The Dominant Emergence of Andrew Bynum
With all the trade speculation coming to a forefront in Los Angeles as we head into the closing hours of the trade deadline, there is an emerging opinion among the Laker fanbase. The majority of Laker fans want Andrew Bynum to stay in purple and gold. After the Lakers early and disappointing exit from the post-season last year, L.A. was ready and willing to make a move for Dwight Howard, even if that meant losing Bynum.
However, as time has passed and Laker and NBA fans have simply grown tired of Howard’s indecision and his play of the ‘should I stay or should I go’ game, Bynum has brushed of potential moves and focused on the game. Well, it has definitely paid off. Bynum is having his best season yet, while averaging 17.6 points, 12.6 rebounds, 2.1 blocks and 35.5 minutes per game. Better yet, he is shooting 56.7 percent from the field. Bynum had a huge game against Memphis last night with 37 points (season-high) and 16 rebounds on 15 for 18 shooting, leading the Lakers to a double overtime victory.
His performance in the first half of the season caused him to be voted as the starting All-Star center for the Western Conference in February for the first time in his career. Bynum is now considered by the majority of the basketball community as the second best center in the league, behind none other than Dwight Howard. The biggest reason for this rapid improvement is the fact that he has remained healthy so far this year. The most influential negative with Bynum is that he is prone to injuries, primarily with his knees. With consistent care to his knees, Laker fans hope to avoid another absence of Bynum on the roster due to injury.
However, if you take out the injury risk, which is a real risk for any NBA player to be honest, Bynum’s performance and presence not only affects the opposing team, but the rest of the Lakers as well. Bynum simply has the ability to make his teammates around him better. Take for example Pau Gasol. Bynum’s presence in the line-up allows Gasol to play his preferred style of ball. Despite being a seven footer, it is no secret that Pau is not comfortable playing the center position. Bynum can play the low-post while Gasol can float around the paint and even take a couple of outside jumpers.
Then take Bynum’s affect on Kobe Bryant. Kobe draws the most attention from the defense, that is a given. Therefore, that opens up easy opportunities for Bynum in the post or for an easy lob. We all witnessed how this can work in last Sunday’s game against the Boston Celtics. Instead of taking the shot in clutch time, which was expected, Kobe threw it to Bynum in the paint for a turnaround shot. In fact, Bynum’s clutch shot revealed an interesting stat as reported by the NBA.com’s John Schuhumann as shown below.
Andrew Bynum is shooting 24-for-27 in clutch time this season.
— John Schuhmann (@johnschuhmann) March 11, 2012
However, it turns out that this stat was corrected to 24 out of 28 attempts later on. Yet, I think all Laker fans would not pass up on a 85.7 percent in clutch situations. Not only has there been an incredible increase of trust between Kobe and Bynum, but there is a great deal of trust in Bynum with Mike Brown as well. This is illustrated during game when rotations are used with the reserves. Barnes, Goudelock, Blake and Murphy seem to perform at their best when Bynum is leading this set rotation. During this time, the offense primarily runs through Bynum and his ability to lead is becoming stronger on a nightly basis.
Bynum is proving to be a major asset in many facets of the team. While we still are uncertain what the fate of Gasol is, know that Bynum will not be going anywhere and will not be going anywhere unless Dwight Howard decides to sign with the Lakers for a long-term contract. However, the majority amount of fans want the Lakers to keep Bynum even if Howard chooses to join LA. The most promising aspect of Bynum is that he is years away from reaching his prime. This is the main reason why the Orlando Magic wanted the Lakers to return to the table to discuss a possible trade. However, the Lakers are very hesitant to do this and will most likely stick with their growing star for the long haul, Andrew Bynum.