Andrew Bynum was drafted #10 in the 2005 draft. He was fully expecting to go to the University of Connecticut under Coach Calhoun. The ascension of his draft stock was completely based on limited high school footage, great physical tools, and the overused word, “potential.” His individual workout to display his skills in front of NBA teams didn’t reflect highly of his skill level.
What did potential look like for Andrew Bynum? Despite NBA executives knowing he had knee injuries in high school, he was effective. He was on the All-American 3rd team as a senior in high school. Greg Oden, as a sophomore was on the 1st team. Bynum had the 7’7″ wingspan, soft hands, and did a great job of building his body to handle NBA-level athleticism.
Andrew Bogut was a proven commodity. People asked me back then what Bogut’s upside was. They laughed when I said, “He’s a polished Vlade Divac“. They responded, “Who would draft Vlade Divac #1?” We got the answer that night; the Milwaukee Bucks. As a 20-year old sophomore, the Australian player had plenty of Olympic experience, NCAA experience, and proven skills in the NCAA tournament. He was a healthy player, ready to contribute from day one. He had all of the skills Vlade had at his prime, only a stronger body.
The Lakers were a rebuilding team in 2005. They had lost Shaquille O’Neal in a trade for Lamar Odom, Caron Butler, and Brian Grant. Kobe Bryant was entering his prime. The Lakers could take a big risk in the draft. They had trade pieces as well.
Back then, I wanted Danny Granger. He played point guard at 6’7″ for New Mexico during crunch time. He had good athleticism, elite size at small forward, triple threat skills, and defensive ability. I saw him as a Scottie Pippen-type player.
Granger went on to having a great career for Indiana, eventually becoming their franchise players. He hasn’t been the same since his injuries. Andrew Bynum was integral to the Laker championship runs. He hasn’t been the same since his injuries. Andrew Bogut, once so full of promise as a Milwaukee Bucks franchise player, hasn’t been the same since his injuries.
But, of the three players, Andrew Bynum was the biggest risk. When the Lakers gambled, they got two championships for it. He had the best upside of the three players.
No one saw that coming.