If third-year center Bismack Biyombo feels threatened by the Charlotte Bobcats adding big men Al Jefferson and Cody Zeller, you wouldn’t know it from his approach.
Biyombo started 80 of 82 games last season, averaging 4.8 points and 7.2 rebounds. After the season, the Bobcats used the fourth pick on Zeller and signed Jefferson to a 3-year, $40.5 million contract.
Biyombo likely isn’t starting this season, but he doesn’t see himself as extraneous.
“My job is the same as it was last year – be a defender, protect the paint, rebound, block shots. Nothing is going to change,” he said after the first practice of training camp at UNC Asheville.
Never miss a local story.
The Bobcats drafted Biyombo seventh overall in 2011. He’s a long athlete and tough guy, but he arrived in Charlotte from the Spanish League with minimal offensive skill. That hasn’t changed much.
New coach Steve Clifford has told Biyombo not to fret about what he can’t yet do.
“We talked about that – to keep it simple, do what you do best and help the team however you can,” Biyombo said. “There’s no pressure and that gave me time to work on my game. If I’m here, then I’m here for a reason.”
Jefferson is a premier low-post scorer, but not a great defender, so there’s a contrast in strengths between Jefferson and Biyombo. Zeller will likely be used more as a power forward than a center.
In Patrick Ewing, the Bobcats have a former superstar center on the coaching staff. Biyombo said Ewing will be of great value to his development.
“(Ewing is) very helpful. We talk a lot about the game.” Biyombo said. “We work out all the time together – before the others and after the others. He’s going to make me a lot better.”
Adrien’s challenge: Although power forward Jeff Adrien played 52 games for the Bobcats last season, his contract this season is unguaranteed. He’s one of five players in training camp without that financial security.
The Bobcats have a crowd at power forward with Zeller, Josh McRoberts and the recently signed Anthony Tolliver. Zeller is projected as a star, McRoberts improved the Bobcats’ ball movement last season and Tolliver was signed to improve the team’s shooting range.
Where does that leave Adrien?
“You could say I’m accustomed to it,” Adrien said of the uncertainty. “Even after the (guarantee) deadline last season when they kept me, I felt I had to prove myself. That’s why I’m here now. Even after I ever get a guaranteed contract, I’m undersized, so I’ll have to prove myself. I can’t take a day off.”
Adrien is short for his position at 6-foot-7, but he’s a rugged rebounder. He averaged a board for every 3.6 minutes played. Clifford has called rebounding one of the Bobcats’ shortcomings.
“We have a lot of great 4s, a lot of skilled 4s, but I feel like I bring a different element to this team,” Adrien said. “I feel I’m needed. And hopefully I’ll get a chance to show that.”