Mock: Bismack Biyombo, No. 5
A gamble worth taking.
by Sam Riches / @sam_riches
I’ll be the first to admit it, it ain’t easy being a Toronto Raptors fan.
We watch with anxious and perhaps naive intrigue, as season after season the organization treads away on a never-ending wheel of mediocrity.
We watch with fading confidence as player after player turn their back on our city and our team.
We watch with tired eyes as coach after coach fails to produce wins and we watch with shattered expectations as team after team fails to find the right mixture of chemistry and talent to be a viable contender.
Our draft history has not been kind to us.
In 1999 we took Jonathan Bender fifth overall and then seven picks later, Aleksandar Radojević. In 2001 and 2002 our first round selections were Michael Bradley and Kareem Rush. And then in 2004, we used the No. 8 pick to draft Rafael Araújo. None of these players remain in the League today.
In 2006, we thought things changed for the better. The MLSE ponied up top dollar and brought a proven talent to Toronto in Bryan Colangelo. The mastermind behind the reemergence of the Phoenix Suns, a reigning Executive of the Year, and the man who took a chance on Amar’e Stoudemire, a high-school kid with only two years of high-school experience.
In his first draft with the Toronto Raptors, Colangelo was handed the number one overall pick. The first in franchise history and a legitimate opportunity to add a critical piece to the organization. He chose Andrea Bargnani and despite some criticism of the selection, things seemed to fall into place. The Raptors captured the Atlantic Division for the first time in franchise history, Colangelo was once again named Executive of the Year and the Raptors seemed to be constructing a core that could eventually contend for a title.
Then we started to hear the hum of a familiar tune.
This time, regardless of being one of the top media markets in North America, we were told our city just wasn’t big enough for our franchise player. So we waved goodbye to Chris Bosh, though some of us with only one finger.
We were told, despite not having made it past the first round of the Playoffs in 12 years, we were ‘retooling.’ We would soon be returning to our previous state of dominance which we never held.
But recently, Colangelo has come clean and finally admitted this team is in full rebuilding mode. It’s a painful but necessary step, it means peeling the band-aids off the roster and competing with hungry, determined and unproven talent.
This past season was our first step in that process, and it was painful. Twenty-two wins, 60 losses. A young and athletic core, but a weak franchise cornerstone and a future filled with uncertainty. But there is talent on this Raptors squad and certainly some pieces to work with. The futures of Amir Johnson, Ed Davis, Jerryd Bayless, DeMar DeRozan, James Johnson and Andrea Bargnani still hold promise.
Playoff contenders? Not yet. But with some significant roster moves this offseason the Raptors could climb out of the basement and move forward with a direct plan.
With the fifth pick in the 2011 SLAMonline Mock Draft, the Toronto Raptors select…
Bismack Biyombo from Club Baloncesto Illescas.
The Congolese sensation!
The only other players who seriously warrant consideration at this spot are Kemba Walker, Jonas Valanciunas and to a lesser extent—Jan Vesely and Kawhi Leonard. I’m not entirely sure any of these players will be able to translate their games successfully, or evolve past the middle of the bench at the NBA level. Nor am I convinced that any of them possess viable talents that are greater than those already contained on the Raptors roster. Biyombo is a massive gamble, but in this draft, he’s a gamble worth taking.
For far too long the Raptors have been plagued by the forward-center problem. Forcing players out their natural position of power forward and planting them in the middle of the paint. Biyombo gives them their center piece.
The Raptors already have some potential in their front court, but no-one with an upside as high as Biyombo. He is years away from reaching his ceiling, if he ever does, but the Raptors are years away from any serious Playoff contention.
His shot blocking and rebounding prowess are a skill-set that has been woefully lacked by the Raptors for years and from that standpoint, Biyombo would be able to contribute immediately. He is pure and raw potential, or in other words- pure risk, but in a draft that holds no certainties, that risk is minimized. If Biyombo turns out to be Saer Sene version 2.0, at least the Raptors took the opportunity rather than meddling with mediocre talent. Walker and Leonard would likely be able to contribute at a faster and more substantive rate, but their potential is nowhere close to that of Biyombo.
His work ethic is apparently off the charts, he competes to the point of physical exhaustion, and he possess the size, length and quickness to lock down the paint. Pairing a developed Biyombo alongside Andrea Bargnani would allow both players to play to their strengths, letting their unique individual talents compensate for the others weaknesses. The killer B’s.
Reports indicate that Biyombo is a vocal leader and a coachable talent. He’s willing to listen and learn, he just needs the opportunity. It’s a high-risk, high-reward play, but in a frighteningly weak draft, it’s worth the gamble.
|2011 SLAMonline Mock Draft|