Is Dewayne Dedmon This Year's Version of Bismack Biyombo?
Dewayne Dedmon's professional career has changed significantly in the past 12 months.
A year ago, he was toiling away as a sparsely-used big man for the Orlando Magic. Still, for a guy that didn't start playing organized basketball until his senior year of high school before going undrafted out of USC in 2013, forging an NBA career was never going to be a cake walk.
The athletic Dedmon bounced around the league in 2013-14, catching on briefly with Golden State and Philadelphia before finding a home in Orlando, where he spent the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons. He averaged 14.2 minutes per game in his first year with the Magic, but that slipped to 12.2 the following year. He did make a combined 39 starts over this span, usually filling in for an injured Nikola Vucevic.
Still, Orlando struggled to integrate him into the normal rotation when Vuvevic was healthy. It actually got to the point late last season where he was briefly sent to the D-League to get more playing time, at his own request.
In the offseason, Dedmon signed a two-year, $6 million contract with the San Antonio Spurs, with the second year being a player option. Given his excellent play thus far, it wouldn't at all be surprising to see him decline that option in order to search for a more lucrative deal as a free agent.
Does his rise to prominence remind you of anyone?
There are striking parallels between Dedmon and Bismack Biyombo, who also toiled in obscurity for a while (with the Charlotte Hornets/Bobcats) before landing with another team on a short-term deal and suddenly becoming a under-the-radar success story (with the Toronto Raptors).
Their stories align, but just how similar are Dedmon and Biyombo as players? Let's have a look.
Biyombo played a slightly larger role for the Raptors last season than Dedmon is handling for San Antonio this year. An injury to Jonas Valanciunas led to him starting 22 games, but he was used heavily as the primary backup, often pushing Valanciunas for minutes. He finished as the only Raptor to play in all 82 games, averaging 22 minutes per night.
Dedmon has made 24 starts for the Spurs because of some injuries in the frontcourt -- including Pau Gasol's broken hand and LaMarcus Aldridge's scary heart issue. The 63 games he's appeared in are already a career high, and assuming he continues taking a regular shift, he'll play in 76 overall.
He's currently averaging 17.6 minutes played per game, but those minutes have been rising -- he's averaging 19.1 per game since the calendar flipped to 2017. That number has climbed even more to 20.6 since February 1st, which is much closer to Biyombo's total from a year ago.
For the sake of consistency, it's best to compare the production of these two via their per-36-minute numbers.
Dedmon and Biyombo both profile as rim-runners on offense and shot blockers on defense, so there's a defined set of categories we can use to compare them.
|Per 36 Minutes||Points||Rebounds||Blocks||Field Goal Percentage||Defensive Real Plus/Minus||Offensive Rating||Defensive Rating|
|Dedmon 2016-17||10.9||13.2||1.6||64.80%||4.36 (3rd in NBA)||124||99|
|Biyombo 2015-16||9||13||2.6||54.20%||3.02 (17th in NBA)||118||101|
While they're similar, there are a few discrepancies.
Dedmon has not only scored at a better rate, but he's but much more efficient, while Biyombo gets the clear edge in shot blocking. Despite that, Dedmon still has the decisive edge on defense thanks to an elite defensive real plus/minus number.
Dedmon has been better than Biyombo was last season, but these numbers still need to be taken in context. Biyombo posted those statistics for a Raptors team that ranked 11th in the NBA in defensive rating, allowing 102.7 points per 100 possessions, and his counterpart is on a Spurs team that ranks as the NBA's best defensive team, with a 101.0 defensive rating.
His performance with the Raptors last year netted Biyombo 5.9 win shares, but Dedmon has 4.5 and counting. His win shares per 48 minutes currently sits at .196 (Biyombo was at .156), so he has a good chance at overtaking him in this category, too.
It's no secret that Biyombo has struggled for Orlando this season. There are plenty of reasons why (Orlando's roster is a structural mess) but the bottom line is that despite getting paid like a starting center, he's only averaged 23 minutes per game and has been on the court for the opening tip just 27 times. His per-minute production is also down across the board.
Although Dedmon is having an incredible year and would hypothetically be a great fit for most teams, one has to wonder if Biyombo's situation will give some front offices pause before shelling out a ton of money for someone with such a specific set of skills.