NBA Experience: 5 years
Contract Status: Signed thru 2011-12 (Team option for 2012-13)
2010-11 Averages: 11.3ppg, 9.4rpg, 1.9bpg, 57% FG, 66% FT
There might not be a bigger conundrum in all of basketball than Andrew Bynum. When you look at the NBA landscape you’ll notice that true centers are a dying breed. True centers that are more than just big stiffs are even rarer. Thus Bynum sits atop the list of most untradeable Lakers not named Kobe.
His health is always a concern. His maturity might be an even larger issue. His salary seems outrageous for a player with a career average 13 points a night. Still, there is no substitution for an active 7-footer that hits the boards, defends the rim and controls the paint. Bynum is truly a luxury even if it costs more than $16-million for the right to see him suit up 50-60 times a year.
The 2010-11 season was truly a lost year for Drew. He was out of action early due to yet another knee surgery. This time around Drew’s prolonged absence was due to his immature nature. Bynum delayed surgery in order to attend the World Cup in South Africa. A once in a lifetime opportunity no doubt but one that didn’t do his teammates any favors.
It took Drew a few months to get up to speed and it wasn’t until February that we finally saw Bynum begin to dominate the paint like we all know he’s capable of. Then just as he was hitting his stride Bynum suffered another minor setback on the same problematic knee. While he didn’t miss any time his game was never the same.
The season ended in unceremonious fashion as Bynum was ejected from the Lakers’ lopsided loss to the Mavs. Drew’s infamous elbow to a defenseless J.J. Barea showed all the immaturity of a 23-year-old with a multi-million dollar deal. The act will cost Bynum game checks if and when the next season starts. But what he lost in respect may never be regained. Playing for the Lakers means doing all things with class, both winning a losing. Hopefully Bynum has learned his lesson as he’s quickly gaining a reputation as a dirty player. For his sake let’s hope opposing players never stoop to his level otherwise that knee brace could become a bulls-eye.
Going forward the big question is just how does Drew figure into the future of the franchise?
Jim Buss loves him some Bynum so it’s not too far fetched to assume the Lakers will be building around Andrew in the post-Kobe era. The health concerns are cause for alarm but his potential is too tempting to ignore.
Can Bynum be a dominant force in the league?
That remains to be seen. Thus far he’s has had brief moments of brilliance and his supporting cast certainly has masked his inconsistencies. The truth is we have yet to truly get a good view of Drew. Due to constant rehab the league has yet to know what Bynum can do on a night in and night out basis. As a defender and rebounder he’s among the league’s best. His low post game grows more and more deadly each year. Still Drew’s game leaves you wanting, another sign of those maturity issues.
Overall Bynum is well worth the risk. We’re not talking Greg Oden here. He proved a lot to the world by toughing it out in the 2010 Finals. In the near future the conversation for best big man will most likely be a debate between Dwight Howard and Drew. Howard is more explosive and has proven to be a franchise player. Bynum is the one with the most to prove. If he wants to get into the conversation of best Laker big ever Drew has got to get healthy, get consistent and check his young baggage at the door. What makes Drew so unique is his ceiling seems to have no limits. What makes him so frustrating is that he’s been a victim of untimely injuries and at times has been his own worst enemy.
The good news is hopefully we’ve seen the worst of Bynum. The great news is that we still have yet to see his absolute best.