NBA Roundtable

Bismack Biyombo Drawing Pre-Draft Attention

In Draft on April 10, 2011 at 9:14 am

Great article by Ian Thomsen over at SI.com on the Nike Hoop Summit

Biyombo produced the first triple-double ever seen at the Nike Hoop Summit on Saturday, with 12 points (5-of-7 from the field), 11 rebounds and an astonishing 10 blocks in the World Select Team’s 92-80 loss to the U.S. Junior National Select Team.

The internationals arrived with more size, but the Americans performed as if they were the taller team thanks to their superior athleticism and teamwork. They’ve been playing together in international competitions, and their cohesion was intimidating from the opening minute. The World players were alarmed by the speed of the game and were forced to hurry their shots against the fast-closing American defenders.

Team USA ran out to a 20-12 lead while blocking six shots and holding the visitors to 3-of-21 shooting (14.3 percent) in the opening quarter. Duke-bound guard Austin Rivers (son of Celtics coach Doc) continued to make a name for himself by going 7-of-11 (3-of-4 from 3-point range) for a game-high 20 points, while the frontcourt play of future Wildcats Anthony Davis (16 points, 10 rebounds) and Michael Gilchrist (16 points and five blocks) suggested that Kentucky will be back in championship contention next season.

On Biyombo

Chief among them was Biyombo, who exploited his 7-7 wingspan and the most NBA-ready body on the floor. After a disappointing first quarter, the visitors adapted as Biyombo asserted himself defensively and Polish guard Mateusz Ponitka (who scored a team-leading 17 points) attacked the basket. “He runs the floor, he defends and he’s cat-quick,” said an NBA scout of Biyombo. “His offensive skills need to be developed, but his athleticism screams out.”

“He’s Ben Wallace, basically,” said another NBA executive.

The NBA evaluators spent the week guessing at Biyombo’s age as they attended the World Team’s practices. A half-dozen NBA scouts and executives told me they believed Biyombo was older than his listed age of 18, based not only on his mature body but also his leadership skills, as he led the Internationals through their pre-practice stretches and was their most vocal and energetic player. Questions of his age won’t necessarily damage his stock in the draft, as his maturity will be viewed as strength. He is forecasted as a first-round pick with a chance to sneak into the lottery.

On Biyombo’s basketball background

On Saturday he said he had been playing basketball since he was 12, both on an outdoor court near his home as well as on an indoor floor at his high school.

He began his professional career in Yemen in 2009, and then moved to the Spanish fourth division in 2009-10. He quickly worked his way up to Spain’s ACB, the top national league in Europe, where he is currently averaging 6.4 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.3 blocks in 14 games with the club Fuenlabrada.

“The way I play here, I play everywhere,” he said following the Hoop Summit. “In the ACB I play with a lot of smart guys, I play with a lot of strong guys, and when I step on the court I just want to kill them.”

Biyombo is a highly engaging character. His favorite NBA players are a couple of All-Star power forwards, Kevin Love and Kevin Garnett. “Kevin Garnett is intense player — every time he’s not on the floor, his team is missing him,” said Biyombo. “I want to (play) defense as a team. I want to help everybody on my team and I want to win the game … That’s what I heard from my first coach, that the good offense is defense. If I block a lot of shots then it’s good offense. If I get a lot of rebounds, then it’s good offense.”

Another prospect of note – Lucas Riva Nogueira

Another potential first-round pick is Brazilian 7-footer Lucas Riva Nogueira, an 18-year-old known as “Bebe” (Baby). He is a slim 218 pounds, though he has gained 20 pounds in the last year. And while he is extremely raw offensively, he intrigued scouts by driving left-handed from the top of the key to finish with an explosive dunk during practice Friday. But the competition appeared too fast for him Saturday, leaving him with just four points, six rebounds and one block in 13 minutes.

Thomsen doesn’t say much about Nogueira but he is a raw skinny seven footer with great athleticism. Terrific speed.

There was also some great praise for Dario Saric – just 17 – as a 6-10 combo forward with a beautiful jump shot. He is another guy to keep an eye on down the road.

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