In this microwave society, fans don’t want to hear that. But Charlotte Bobcats center Bismack Biyombo is a kid. A very directed, driven kid, but a kid nonetheless.
Sometimes coach Mike Dunlap reminds others of that. Sometimes he has to remind himself. Recently one of Dunlap’s mentors, Denver Nuggets coach George Karl, told Dunlap that Biyombo will eventually average a double-double. It was important for Dunlap to hear that.
“Let’s say he’s doing that at 23,” Dunlap said following practice Tuesday. “There will be plenty of guys drafted at 23 who can’t do that.”
That’s the course the Bobcats set: Each of the past two years they used a lottery pick on the youngest player in that respective draft. In 2011, it was Biyombo. In 2012 it was Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Both of them start in a season that hasn’t produced many victories.
So player-development is atop the agenda. Biyombo isn’t where he’d like to be, but he’s way beyond what he was when he signed with the Bobcats two Decembers ago.
Some measurables: He made all six of his free throws Saturday night against the Detroit Pistons. In his rookie season, when he shot just 48 percent from the foul line, that would have been inconceivable. Biyombo is shooting 55 percent from the foul line this season, which sounds little different, but the trend line is moving up.
Now he’s making jump hooks fairly regularly. He’s taking and making the occasional jump shot from beyond 10 feet. These are baby steps, but that’s what the Bobcats bought into when they drafted a guy with great natural gifts and minimal coaching. In his second season he averages 4.4 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.66 blocks. That’s not a dramatic improvement on his rookie season, but Dunlap is encouraged by Biyombo’s 14 double-digit rebounding games and sees steady progress offensively.
“I’m patient with myself. From the starting point to where I am now, I’m a lot better,” said Biyombo, the last player to leave practice Tuesday.
“Stephen (Silas, a Bobcats assistant coach) tells me all the time it doesn’t happen overnight. Over time you’re going to see that I produce. My free throws have gotten a lot better. My whole game got better. I think I’m doing the right things.”