Around this time last season, Bismack Biyombo was just a second-string center for the Toronto Raptors. Brought to Toronto for one year at $2.8 million, Biyombo was likely to decline his player option at the end of the season, but he wasn’t in line for much of a raise. After all, who would shell out mass dollars for a one-dimensional rim protector of unsure age?

Then came the Eastern Conference Finals. The Raptors lost the series, but Biyombo put up 10.3 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game, including dazzling performances in Games 3 and 4, both Toronto victories. When July 1 came, the Orlando Magic paid Biyombo $72 million over four years, mostly based on his playoff performance.

A year in, that deal doesn’t look too great (turns out paying a player based on one playoff series isn’t too smart). But that doesn’t change a simple reality — a strong playoff performance can jack up a player’s value in free agency, big time.

This list examines eight players who could enjoy the Biyombo Effect with a strong performance in this year’s playoffs. All it takes are a few big games.

Tim Hardaway Jr., point guard, Atlanta Hawks

Hardaway is a restricted free agent after this season, and he’s already upped his value. Considered a rotational player at best before the season started, Hardaway has averaged 19.2 points, 3.0 assists and 3.7 rebounds per 36 minutes with a 53.7 effective field goal percentage — all career highs. Offensively, Hardaway has broken league average in PER for the first time in his career, and he’s only 25.

As a team, Atlanta’s offense has been absolutely horrendous with Hardaway off the floor. Without him, they score just 97.6 points per 100 possessions; with him, that number shoots up to 106.1. So why exactly is so much on the line for Hardaway this postseason?

Well, the Hawks already have replacements lined up. With a teardown coming, the front office may be comfortable with Malcom Delaney and DeAndre Bembry manning the shooting guard position in the near future, both on cheap deals, the latter being a rookie deal.

Hardaway is also going into restricted free agency, meaning he doesn’t have much leverage unless other teams are willing to compromise cap space for precious days in free agency knowing that Atlanta can match any offer. There’s also the matters of defense and shooting.

Hardaway’s box plus-minus is still in the negative, thanks to defense. He isn’t a disaster on that end, but he’s not a positive either. And in crunch time, that could make for a liability. His 35.8 3-point field goal percentage will invite opposing defenses to duck under picks and dare him to shoot in the playoffs.

But if Hardaway steps up these two facets of his game, he’ll reap the rewards come July. If not, he may have to crawl back to Atlanta, hat in hand.

Michael Carter-Williams, point guard, Chicago Bulls

Carter-Williams is a near-perfect encapsulation of how the point guard position has changed in the past 15 years. He’s a good passer, a serviceable defender and even averages 6.5 rebounds per 36. Transport him to 1995 and Carter-Williams might be an All-Star. In 2017, though, his lack of shooting ability makes him potentially unplayable in a big game.

Carter-Williams is shooting 23.4 percent from 3 and 36.6 percent from the field, which is not good. He drives to the basket just 4.7 times per game, according to, and gets to the line just 3.3 times per 36 minutes. Opposing coaches can more or less ignore Carter-Williams in the playoffs based on these numbers. They can use Carter-Williams’ man to send double-teams at Jimmy Butler, turn him into a roamer, or have him stand near the basket and patrol the paint so long as they avoid 3-second violations. They can make the Bulls play 4-on-5 offense.