Tuesday, June 21, 2011

In Defense of Bismack Biyombo

Editor's Note: I am excited to welcome Kevin Draper as a regular contributor to The Diss. Like yours truly, Draper is a lifelong fan of the Golden State Warriors, faithful throughout the malaise, and our brief return to respectability a few seasons back. He will focus on team building and culture changing during this transition period for the Warriors. He earned a BA in Political Science/International Relations from Carleton College, and currently lives and works in the East Bay, California.

"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results."

2007 – Brandan Wright
2008 – Anthony Randolph
2010 – Ekpe Udoh

If you can’t see the similarities there, well, you aren’t trying very hard. Power forward? Check. Shot-blocker? Check. Thin. Young. Offensively challenged.

Three out of the last four years, the Warriors have drafted offensively inept power forwards. Two of those are no longer on the roster. Brandan Wright is likely a bust and Anthony Randolph is still trying to figure out how to tap into his enormous physical gifts. Under Coach Don Nelson, Wright was a frequently injured afterthought, while Randolph was habitually asleep in the doghouse. Nelson couldn’t tolerate two offensive liabilities on the court at once, and since Andris Biedrins was the only true center on the roster, the young power forwards got the short end of the bench.

Last year, under Keith Smart, defense was a bit more of a priority. After coming back from a hand injury Ekpe Udoh was able to get decent playing time, and even moved into the starting lineup for eighteen games. Udoh showed great shot-blocking ability and was a valuable help defender, but pulled in an astonishingly low amount of rebounds for somebody standing 6’10”, and his stone hands contributed to a 16.1% turnover percentage.

Ekpe Udoh and Keith Smartphoto © 2011 Keith Allison | more info (via: Wylio)

And now we might go through this again? Previous versions of both Chad Ford’s mock draft and the DraftExpress mock draft had the Warriors selecting Bismack Biyombo with the 11th pick. Biyombo is a young, raw, thin, power forward that excels at shot-blocking and defense. Sound familiar? I know there is a lot of consternation over following the same failed model, but I say bring on the déjà vu, pop in a copy of Groundhog Day and get excited for the Biyombo era.

I get the reasons not to pick him: the Warriors haven’t had success picking similarly skilled players in the past, he’s too raw, shooting guard is a bigger need etc. But here is the reason to pick him: the Warriors are still closer to a lottery team than a playoff team, and Biyombo is more talented than anybody else they can draft at #11. Even after Joe Lacob and Peter Gruber, Mark Jackson and Mike Malone, Bob Myers and Jerry West, the Warriors are still a bad team.

After struggling through the first year of Lacob’s ownership, waiting for the team to fire Robert Rowell (still waiting . . .), Warriors fans are ready to cheer for a winner. They embrace MarK Jackson’s pronouncements about the playoffs, are confident that the three-headed dragon in the front office can extract trade value out of Monta Ellis, and believe that David Lee and Andris Biedrins will finally figure it out this year. But Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will the Warriors. For the first time in 20 years there is a seemingly competent group in the front office, which is reason enough to celebrate. Talent on the court is what matters, however, and in this department the Warriors are still lacking. In a rebuilding year, with only two coveted players to draft, I would much rather the Warriors took a flyer on the most talented player available, and unless Kyrie Irving or Derek Williams miraculously slip to #11, that player is Bismack Biyombo.

Yahoo! Sports writes: "Among this year's lottery prospects, Bismack Biyombo is perhaps the best candidate to be a boom-bust player..." That isn't the type of player you pick in a deep draft, or if your team is on the verge of competing for a championship. But if your team has been mired in mediocrity for 17 years, and are picking eleventh in a weak draft, that is exactly who you pick! The Warriors are in the position they are in because the Cohan era eschewed risk. The Warriors never picked the high schoolers who were high risk/high reward type players, they never hired young and up-coming coaches, and they never made that one big trade (though they gave it a valiant attempt with Kevin Garnett in 2007). There is a decent chance that Biyombo will be out of the league in five years . . . but there is also a chance that he could fulfill his own expectations: "I don't care how tough people are over there. I don't care how strong they play over there. I know that I'm strong, too. I know that I'm tough, too. I never let people just beat me easy. They're going after me and I'm going to go after them."

Of course, if Biyombo gets drafted before the Warriors choose, this entire argument is moot. But if he is available, if only to prevent me from breaking my TV screen, I hope the Warriors select him.Besides, how can you not love a player whose nickname is B-Smack?

1 comment:

  1. so you're saying, essentially, that despite:

    - todd fuller
    - adonal foyle
    - ike diogu
    - andris biedrins
    - troy murphy
    - patrick o'bryant
    - anthony randolph
    - ekpe udoh

    we gotta draft b-smack? i oughta b-smack you in the grill. you should see if the dubs are hiring.