Bismack Biyombo seems to have reinvented his game in the past few weeks, and the Charlotte Hornets climbed significant places in the Eastern Conference standings.
In absence of centre starter Al Jefferson, who returned to action on Monday night from a groin injury, the Congolese started in nine games.
The 22-year-old Lubumbashi native averaged six points and 8.7 rebounds per game in the last ten games.
He put on consistent performances to help the Hornets build on a five-game winning streak, before falling 98-93 to the reigning champions San Antonio Spurs last week.
The Hornets no longer hold the worst record in the East this season, instead they seem to have readjusted and heading for a steady rest of the season.
As a result of the team’s consistency, the Hornets are now 17-25, trailing the Brooklyn Nets by just one game in the battle for the eight place in the East.
On Monday night, Biyombo – who was nominated for the Eastern Conference Player of the Week, but saw Atlanta Hawks’ Al Horford scooping the award – contributed eight points, six rebounds and a block shot, as the Hornets saw off Gorgui Dieng’s Minnesota Timberwolves 105-80.
Senegalese Dieng contributed nine points, a team-high ten rebounds and a game-best four blocks, but Minnesota (7-33) conceded their eighth defeat in the past ten games.
Biyombo, who recorded his third double-double of the season against the Spurs, dismisses any personal plaudits. It it is all about team effort, he argues.
“I’m trying to help my teammates play to their strengths,” said Biyombo.
Even three-time Coach of the Year San Antonio tactician Gregg Popovich applauded Biyombo’s performances.
“I think he’s a monster. He’s just so strong, so athletic, so young . He’s just too much of an athlete for us.”
Jefferson poured in eight points and five boards for the Hornets in Monday’s victory over the Timberwolves.
Biyombo might return to the bench, but he has become a valuable asset for coach Steve Cliford’s Hornets.
On Wednesday, the Hornets will host Luol Deng’s Miami Heat, while the Timberwolves will host the Dallas Mavericks.