Andrew Bynum, in my opinion, the Most Improved Player in the league. 18.7 points, 11.8 rebounds, 1.9 blocks
Andrew Bynum The Beast: 30 rebound game in a shorthanded road victory over the Spurs, stretches of the season where he embraced the defensive captain’s role, incredible triple-double to open the series against Denver, most 30-point games of his career.
Andrew Bynum The Petulant Emerging Star: 3-point shot vs. Golden State, multiple ejections vs. Houston, incendiary and divisive comments to the media throughout the year.
Let’s face it, Andrew Bynum has been an absolute enigma. We can all agree, the young man has talent galore, and looks as though he could be the last of a dying breed of primarily back-to-basket post players. Although oft-injured, Bynum has displayed the type of skill-set and promise that has many basketball pundits already willing to prematurely crown him as the best big man in the game.
Bynum, for the record, should receive a ton of credit for rehabbing and working his way back from injury time after time. In fact, he’s transitioned from a puffy-faced gangly kid into a chiseled, noticeably graying veteran before our very eyes. I use the term “veteran” very lightly, as maturity and leadership seem to be the remaining issue with Bynum. Keep in mind, the same guy that says “Note to self: The more defense I play, the better we’ll be“, following a dominant performance in Game 1 of a series, acknowledges he simply wasn’t prepared to play and compete in the very same series, not one calendar week later.
While those comments angered an understandably frustrated fan base even more than ever, given they came after highly underwhelming 10 point, four rebound, zero block performance, the Lakers have never been a knee-jerk reaction organization. If the front office determines they can improve the roster by moving Bynum, I’m sure they will. Otherwise, I don’t seem them rushing into ushering away such a highly talented player that is still just 24 years-old.
Regardless of where the front office decides to go, Bynum remains an emerging player that will go as far or as high as he permits himself to go. Put simply, if Bynum determines he truly wants to be dominant, he will be. The question is, will he ever be able to locate the consistent head-space it takes to maintain any such dominance.