For fans of the worst team in the NBA (sorry Washington, Sacramento and New Jersey; the ‘Cats play at such a low level that your die-hards can only have nightmares about it), a common theme of “what the hell is Paul Silas thinking” binds them together.
There is a rookie who was selected in the lottery of this past year’s draft trapped on the confines of Charlotte’s rotting bench. He’s 6’9″ but has the wingspan of a true center. At just 19 years old, he has the potential to blossom into a star, or at the very least, become nothing short of a solid piece in the Bobcats’ future front-court.
His name is Bismack Biyombo, and, for some godforsaken reason, he plays just 12.6 minutes per game.
Biyombo wears the number zero, which might as well be a black hole attached to his jersey, sucking more and more potential out of him with every minute he wastes away on the bench.
How, in this lockout shortened season, what with it’s lack of practice time and poorly scheduled back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-backs, is a rookie supposed to get better without playing? (The question is rhetorical, Mr. Silas).
I knew Biyombo could ball when I first found out about the physical specimen from Lubumbashi, Congo. Anyone could see that after watching this:
“He’s pretty good,” I told my roommate, Scott, who showed me the video.
“He’s 18,” Scott said.
“…………..,” I responded. My mind was but dust from a just-set-off explosion.
I came-to after Scott sprinkled some water on my face, and immediately searched the web for everything I could find on this “Biyombo Character” as I then referred to him.
It was true (EVERYTHING ON THE INTERNET IS TRUE), the kid really was just 18. Scott and I developed a mutual affection that bordered on obsession for Biyombo.
As a diehard Knicks fan, I knew my team needed this guy. We were weak in every aspect of the game that Biyombo thrives on. Then I found out he was sure to be a lottery selection.
My heart was shattered. Until, that is, I remembered something about an organization resembling an NBA franchise that called Charlotte home.
“My God!” I thought, “Charlotte isn’t too far away from Columbia, SC (where I live), maybe Michael Jordan can snag this guy and I’ll be able to watch him play in person!”
When draft night came my hopes were momentarily dashed once more; The Kings had selected Biyombo with the seventh overall pick.
I turned off the TV and headed for my bedroom, but was stopped dead in my tracks by a primordial scream that burst from the second floor of my home.
“We got him!” Scott bellowed. “WE GOT HIM!”
I dove at the couch, flipped the TV back on and learned that Charlotte had acquired Biyombo from Sacramento. All was right once more.
Then came the debate about his Spanish contract buy-out. Would he pay it? Would the Bobcats? Would he stay another year in Spain?
Well, Biyombo paid 1.5 million dollars to get out of Europe and into The Tar Heel State and I was all kinds of ready to see him in action.
The lockout extended my wait, and now it seems that Silas is either determined to slow Biyombo’s development or waging war with me for something I did to him in a previous life.
What other reason can there be not to play the only person on his team with a defensive rating less than 104?
Biyombo might be “raw”, as the experts like to say, but dammit, he plays hard every time he’s on the floor.
For a rookie, his per 36 numbers of 8.8 points, 4.3 blocks and 9.6 rebounds are more than solid. He doesn’t actually need to play that much, but those stats show just how well he could do if given more time.
The Bobcats are going nowhere this year. Any group of players that loses twice to this season’s Washington Wizards might as well get that through their heads. So, why not give Biyombo 20 minutes a game. The ‘Cats are already horrible on offense, and he certainly wouldn’t hurt them defensively.
Kemba Walker, Charlotte’s other lottery pick, is learning on the fly this year; Because of injuries and a thin Bobcats’ backcourt, the former UConn star has played 27 minutes per game in which he’s averaged 12 points, 3.5 assists, 1.1 steal and four rebounds. Because of the increase in time, Walker has been able to work on his weaknesses like shot selection and decision making.
With such limited minutes, Biyombo won’t have the same luxury of working on his game’s deficiencies.
For a fan base in desperate need of something to cheer for, the teenager might be Charlotte’s last viable option. It would be nice to watch the Queen City’s two rookies hustling, running and gunning and giving it their all together. At the very least it would give some people hope.
Walker has already shown that he’ll give 100 percent night in and night out. In his limited minutes, Biyombo looks like he’d give the same effort.
So, without further adieu, Mr. Silas, I’m sorry for whatever I did to you in some former level of my existence that makes you want me to have the worst possible experience watching Charlotte basketball. Perhaps I led a Roman legion against your quaint, helpless, Greek village. Maybe, as a 14th century English judge, I sentenced you to a harsh flogging for harboring a Catholic in your home. Either way, you shouldn’t take it out on Biyombo.
Let him play. Free him from the sticky grip of your ever adhesive bench. Help him develop. Let Bobcats fans see why the team took a chance on a three-way trade to land him.