Online Extra: Biyombo a key to Bobcats’ defense
By STEVE REED
AP Sports Writer
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Bobcats coach Steve Clifford knows center Bismack Biyombo’s offensive game is still a long way from a finished product.
And he’s OK with that.
Clifford said Monday he wants Biyombo’s focus next season on becoming a dominant rebounder and “anchor of our defense.”
Biyombo, the No. 7 overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft, has demonstrated in two seasons he doesn’t have a great jump shot, needs help on his low post moves and his free throw shooting can be a liability.
But Clifford believes all of that will improve in due time.
“I love his attention to detail,” Clifford said Biyombo, who won’t turn 21 until August. “I love his effort on the practice floor and I love his coachability. And that’s a good place to start. Step-by-step, we’re still learning. But I know the game is important to him, he’s hard working and he’s bright. So when you have (those qualities) you have a chance to get better.”
Biyombo is buying into Clifford’s program.
He wants to become a better defender and shot blocker.
He’s been pretty much attached to the hip of new Bobcats associate head coach and Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing this week at summer league practice, seeking out any tips he can harvest.
The 6-foot-10 Biyombo started 65 games last season for the Bobcats and averaged 7.3 rebounds but only 4.8 points per game.
Yet Clifford isn’t worried about the scoring part.
“Right now I want him to concentrate on being a great rebounder and get his rebounding numbers up and anchor our defense,” Clifford said. “Be great with his talk and help us get organized.”
If Biyombo is to improve, he’ll likely have to do it off the bench.
The Bobcats agreed last week to a three-year, $40.5 million contract with free agent center Al Jefferson from the Utah Jazz, said a person familiar with the situation. The person spoke to The Associated Press last Thursday on condition of anonymity because the move cannot be made official until July 10 in accordance with NBA rules.
The Bobcats also drafted 7-foot power forward/center Cody Zeller from Indiana with the No. 4 overall pick.
Their arrivals will give the Bobcats a pair of low-post scoring threats, which is in some ways could be good news for Biyombo, who can simply focus on rebounding, blocking shots and using his athletic ability to run the floor.
Jefferson, who has averaged 18.8 points per game over the past seven seasons, has proven capable of handling the role of scorer.
“It’s going to be a good competition for everybody,” Biyombo said. “We’re going to have a lot of tough guys down low, so we’ll be able to play a better game. Obviously Jefferson is coming in and will be a great player for us.”
All of big men on the roster are better offensive players than Biyombo, and he knows that.
That’s why he was so excited when Ewing joined Clifford’s staff.
“Someone like him has a lot of experience,” Biyombo said of Ewing. “Obviously he knows the game. So it’s great for me.”
Ewing has not only been working on Biyombo’s defense, but his low post moves and short-range jumper, too.
Despite rarely attempting a shot behind 12 feet, Biyombo shot just 45 percent from the field and 52 percent from the foul line last season.
“We’re trying to make sure I have my go-to move that I can beat anybody with, and then we can build from there,” Biyombo said. “Obviously I need to work on my jump shot and my free throws. But I think I’m going to get better and the team will get better, too.”
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