Bynum = the future?

Kurt —  August 7, 2006

Lord knows at age 19 I was not ready for serious responsibility or anything that would have required a concerted work ethic — I was more focused on trying to figure out how to steal a bell off the old-school Taco Bell near my college campus, because I knew how cool that would look in my dorm.

But Andrew Bynum passed on his bell-stealing days to go straight to the NBA, and he has been thrust into a difficult position — be slowly developed into a cornerstone of a legendary franchise but, by the way, do it fast enough to overlap with Kobe’s prime.

The questions about how fast — and how far — Bynum can develop remain unanswered. There certainly has been improvement, but can he give the Lakers 10-15 solid minutes a game next season? After this year’s Summer Pro League I said he showed flashes but was inconsistent, plus seemed not to understand positioning himself for rebounds or how to use his frame.

Roland Lazenby has a pipeline to the most honest and knowledgeable critiqer of the Lakers right now — Tex Winter. That’s good for us because Lazenby is a great sports writer in the classic sense, he lets the people with the insight tell the story.

Even if we don’t always like what the story says — in this case about Bynum.

(After the summer league games), Jackson and his coaching staff wanted to see what Winter thought of the play of the team’s young players, especially teen-aged center Andrew Bynum.

“We all were in hopes that he would really arrive,” Winter explained.
However, after studying the tape, Winter offered the truth. The 7-1 Bynum had “a couple of really good games,” Winter said, but the 84-year-old guru came away with questions about Bynum’s intensity, his lack of “fire in the belly.”

“His energy is a question,” Winter said.

Winter also raised questions about Bynum’s quickness, his reaction to the ball, to events on the floor.

Is Bynum still a couple more years away from being a solid contributor? If so, where does that leave the Lakers? While I think we need to be somewhat patient with a challenging rebuilding process, the clock is ticking on Kobe’s prime and the Lakers can’t afford setbacks.

That isn’t to say Bynum isn’t both working on his game and improving. Along those lines there is a great article by Eric Stitt at Hoops Hype, talking about why the skyhook has gone the way of the dodo — what’s more crowd pleasing, a dunk or a skyhook? — and about Abdul-Jabbar’s the effort to teach the shot to Andrew Bynum.

Bill Bertka, former longtime Lakers’ assistant coach, said in the early 1980’s the coaching staff designed a number of plays for Abdul-Jabbar to shoot the skyhook on the left block, which made the shot even more effective because of its versatility.

“On this block over here (sketching the right one), he’d always wanna step into the lane here, which was deadly,” Bertka said. “Anytime he got that, it was money in the bank. But they took that away. And that’s when he developed this drop step on the left block. A counter move. Kareem had the shot mastered to perfection and with his agility and shot concentration, you couldn’t reach the shot.”

But Bynum’s offensive game is a long way from Jabbar’s. While we never expected him to score 38,000 points, the questions of how much he can contribute and when will be keys to seeing if Kobe can raise another banner at Staples.


You need to read all of the Roland Lazenby talk with Tex Winter for other reasons. First, Winter likes Farmar but is not sure how much he can contribute this year. Personally, after watching him at the SPL, I still think by the end of the season (if he can stay healthy) he’ll be taking key minutes from Smush and Shammond. But either way he can be the guy in a couple years. Second, he thinks Pinnock is a keeper.

43 responses to Bynum = the future?

  1. I believe Bynum can do it, Bynum will be one of the forces in the paint. he has the body, work ethic, the coaches, the basketball hungry Kobe has must also be contagious so lets hope all those things arround Bynum will create our Future Center and maybe cornerstone.

    Kobe also had a couple of bad seasons at the begining in the NBA, he had the desire, talent and work ethic. he found Jackson at half way to make history.
    Now Bynum may have a couple of hard seasons, he have improved since the first day, he wants to improve, he has it all, and he has met Jackson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at 17.

    I’ll go with Bynum, he has my support

  2. Bynum is a stiff if Phil is not playing him then there is a reason hes not.

  3. There’s been a lot of talk about a Bynum/Smush/Picks trade for Al Harrington. Kurt, I know its not your habit to comment on what may well be wild speculation, but if it WERE a real trade possibility – would you do it? I’d fear Bynum turning into a potential Shaq or David Robinson type – hell, even if he only turned into a more consistent, effective Elden Campbell, it would give me pause …

    BUT, we do need help for Kobe while he’s in/near his prime … Do you think Harrington would mesh well ,or should be look forward to the Bynum/Farmar tandem of 3 years from now?

    Speaking of Harringtons, I believe Othella Harrington is available. Not a bad shooter, solid player. If Othella H. has anything left, I’d sign him in a second.

  4. A lot of people are probably higher on Al Harrington than I am.

  5. Al Harrington is better then Bynum right now thats for sure Kurt don’t you think? or are you in support of the Lakers wasting Kobe’s prime years for a Stiff center in Bynum?

  6. No NBA fanchise can ever be just about right now. What about two years from now? Five? There certainly is a window of about 4 more years of Kobe at his pirme (and a couple good years after that), but, like I said, I think a lot of people think more highly of Harrington than I do. I think at this time of the summer, the value of the handful of guys still available can get inflated.

  7. Oh okay, so hey let’s wait 4 more years BABY!! let’s keep wasting his best years for a Stiff turd center in Bynum what else is new? i do hope they waste Kobes prime years cause they don’t care and i don’t care either hopefully Shaq wins 6-7 wins and spits on the Lakers faces once Kobe retires with his 3 little shiney rings Shaq got him.

  8. A couple of things about Bynum…

    As Tex said, “He’s huge.” He may not develop into the offensive player that Jim Buss imagined he would, but how many centers in the game, esp in this era, are merely space eaters, shot blockers, and rebounders?I have confidence that those things can be taught and developed in a timely manner.

    In a trade situation, who would value Bynum and his potential above where the Lakers value him?

    I say he gets a least one year of consistent albeit limited minutes off the bench before it is decided that he needs to be moved, or before we decide if he’s the next Shaq, the next Mutumbo, or the next Sam Bowie.

    When I was 19, I was going to Tiajuana more days a week than class…

  9. LIke Tex said, “The Lakers face some tough choices.”
    The value for Bynum remains high right now because he’s still something of an unknown quantity. Acquiring him looks like a smart move for a GM. Just as it has for Mitch.
    My guess is that management is not ready emotionally to give up on him.
    Keep in mind that Tex has always said the tough things for Phil. Like everyoone who has ever played for Phil says, “Tex makes things easier for Phil.”
    Tex just gave Phil a heck of a gift. Tex just challenged the Lakers’ talent level. If Phil did the same, it would bring a major conflict with the front office.
    Tex is just a tough old guy speaking his mind.
    He saying things so that Phil won’t have to say them, not that Phil would anyway. But they need to be articulated. And Tex has always been good for that. He has no fear. It’s significant that he said them on the eve of meeting with Mitch in Los Angeles to discuss how much he can do for the team this year.
    Now that’s brass.

    Roland Lazenby
    author of The Show

  10. LakeMan
    Your comments on Bynum and the Laker organization are beginning to sound like Steven. Being objectively critical is certainly needed, but just being a ‘hater’ like Steve Hartman (radio guy) is only justified if you are an ardent Clipper fan.

    Kobe took 3 yrs, Jermain O’Neal took 5. Remember Bynum not only was drafted out of high school, but played only 31 games at that level. It’s ok to ‘bitch’ about why the Lakers drafted him, but it is now a year later and throwing him under the bus(s) doesn’t really accomplish anything.

    Even if we go Harrington the Lakers probably have to mesh for a year before going anywhere serious. If we continue to develop it is quite possible that next year, at this time, we will be looking toward a really good – and somewhat deep – Laker squad.

  11. From what I’ve seen of Bynum, he looks like he has the frame for the position. No one denys that he has the physical gifts and he’s not exactly Shaq-sized either; the kid is light for his body frame and could probably get up and down the court well enough. Hopefully Bynum can become a student of the game and really work with Kareem on his offensive game. The defensive side of things will come more with experience and maturity, whereas if he works on that offensive game everything will come easier to the Lakers.

    I’m not worried about our centers, both Kwame and Bynum are guys with a lot of potential that could turn out really well.

  12. I think we are expecting too much too soon from bynum. The laker organization got him because of his tremendous potential. According to tex, he is still growing. From what i see in him, he is very agile. Now, how often do you see agile, athletic 7-footers? It’s not as if he is already starting 82 games and not producing, or eating up 25% of our cap space. He is a project (a long term at that). Trading him for Al harrington will be a short term and non-successful solution. Now, if he were to be packaged for a garnett or lebron, then we can take a chance of letting him go. We have two other capable and promising centers in Kwame and Mihm. These are not desperate times that call for desperate measures

  13. I’m hoping Bynum has the desire to be great, but we haven’t seen it yet. I you think about it, few big men really have that KG type fire and desire. After all, 7 footers play basketball because they have to, 6 footers play it because they LOVE it.

  14. As it has been said before the Lakers drafted him knowing full well that he would be a project. He is only making what 2 mil next season. I can’t remeber who said it but on draft night someone commented that you can’t hit a home run unless you swing for the fences. I am happy with letting Bynum develop for a year or two longer, and if he still does not start to show some major improvement then I will consider him a bust. I’m not saying he should be the second coming of David Robinson by the time he is 21, but I wouuld hope he would at least be able to put in a decent 30 min a night.

  15. I would also like to ask the question of what KG has accomplished with all that competitiveness and desire to win? 7 first round exits, one trip to the conference finals courtesy of Cassel and Sprewell, and the last two years out of the playoffs? While I feel McHales ineptitude is a big factor in this, it still does not say alot about KGs ability to win (is A-Rod a fitting comparison?)

  16. KG never had a legit #2 superstar on his team either. He’s had a few really good players, but no superstar like him. In the modern NBA that’s been the formula to winning the title. I’d like to see what a 1-2 punch of Kobe and KG could do. (They should’ve won that series against the lakers in my opinion.) I wish Lamar had KG’s fire.

  17. I’m putting this here because i’m not sure what else to do with it but it was too fun to ignore. From the Associated Press, via the New York Times:

    The United States Department of Justice yesterday sued Donald Sterling, the real estate mogul who owns the Los Angeles Clippers, for housing discrimination, claiming he refused to rent apartments to blacks and families with children.

  18. I was under the impression that a Mihm, not Bynum, for Harrington deal was being discussed. Am I wrong?

  19. Paul, yes, any deal would be Mihm + filler (cook?) for Harrington. However, without Mihm you are asking Bynum to take on a larger role next season and I think it’s fair to question whether he can handle it. Some people are also floating a Drew Gooden senario. The question remains, are either of them really smart moves or just a trade for the sake of making a trade?

  20. Kurt, you act like we have a good team man, why the hell are you saying sake of trade ANY Trade is a good trade right now for us you can’t just accept you’re GM nothing doing anything. at this point a average trade like James Jones or Jeff McInnis is a upgrade because the REALITY is thats the truth.

  21. LakeMan…
    So, you know we don’t have a good team. Okay. So James Jones and Al Harrington will turn us into instant contenders? To get back to championship level basketball, we have to be a little patient. The Lakers drafted Bynum knowing he’d be a project during Kobe’s prime years. They knew that on draft night and they made that part of their plan.

    Any trade is NOT a good trade. Just ask the Dodgers. Sometimes the best trades are the ones you don’t make.

    I’m not against trading Bynum, but unless we get a superstar, we’re not going to become instant contenders by trading him. I really don’t think Al Harrington is the answer.

  22. Then who is? Mr. Inconsistent bum Lamar Odom?

  23. If you bring in Harrington, where does that put Vlade? And do the Lakers really want another average 6’9 forward? The Cook/George/Walton era hasn’t been enough? Specifically, as Mr. Hollinger pointed out in chat yesterday, what does Radmanovich bring that Cook didnt already supply? And Harrington isn’t necessarily a significant upgrade over either. And Cook already knows the system. Once more from Pro Basketball Forecast “As I mentioned in the section on similarity scores, Al Harrington was the most “common” player in this season’s book.” Trade a bunch of players/prospects for the most “common” player in the game?

    You guys could do with more from us Clippers-loving haters, methinks.

    Not to mention starting Harrington over Vlade makes the Lakers liars, but whats a little lie among milionaires right?

    Kurt, everyday its looking more and more like Lakersground around here. I’m sorry.

  24. Tex is just a tough old guy speaking his mind.

    Mr. Lazenby,

    I had that thought as well, thanks for confirming it. Tex seems to be the guy who can still accentuate the negative aspect of a player’s game and still get that player’s respect. Phil, for obvious reasons, seems to have moved away from tweaking his player’s through the media ways of the past…


    I saw that about Sterling as well and was really surprised to find that this was not the first time it has happened. Apparently he has had to pay $5 million dollars to plantiffs for the same discrimination charges in the past.

  25. We’ve already discussed to death the Radmanovich deal. Stat wise, they are similiar; reputation wise, there is a huge gap. Defenses don’t respect Brian Cook and he doesn’t really do anything to make them do it, so they brought in someone who would command a defender. To be honest, I didn’t like the trade when I heard it. I think we needed to focus on either establishing a point guard like Banks or let the cap space sit for next year. There are more people at the 3 that we can get fairly good shooting out of that play better defense than Rad, but we took what was available at the time. Whether that turns out to be a good thing or a bad thing, we’ll find out this year.

    Neither Al Harrington nor anyone else that everyone has mentioned will do anything with the Lakers to boost them any higher this year. Harrington is no upgrade – Jeff McInnis is certainly not an upgrade over Smush Parker in my book; not for relative value or what he brings to the floor in terms of growth and actual play. If the Lakers do trade for Al Harrington it would be ridiculous and a waste; I would be extremely disappointed there.

    Honestly on paper our starting five right now isn’t terrible, but it isn’t exactly good either. Mihm/Brown, Odom, Rad, Kobe, and Smush give us a fairly decent core to work with and Walton is a pretty good 6th man. I’d like for Brown to develop into an asset where we can push Mihm out of the picture for trade bait and upgrade on Smush to get him into a bench role. Maybe I’m being optimistic but to me the Lakers seem, even right now, just a defensive stopper at the 3 and an upgraded point guard (more consistent shooting, better defensively) away from being a serious contender even with these pieces. Any development from Bynum/Brown/Farmir/Walton etc would just be a bonus.

  26. “Stat wise, they are similiar; reputation wise, there is a huge gap. Defenses don’t respect Brian Cook and he doesn’t really do anything to make them do it, so they brought in someone who would command a defender.”

    I love the notion that the league’s coaches, scouts, and players are so far beneath this blog in terms of understanding basketball that they will continually be suckered into improperly defending Radmanovic all season long. Let’s just hope none of them log in here and find out the truth! 🙂

    I understand the need to be optimistic, but apologizing for your team’s misjudgment of talent by claiming that the rest of the league will follow suit seems a bit absurd. At the end of the day, only one team was mesmerized by Vlade’s aura, and one team will pay for it.

  27. Andrew, I certainly don’t think that NBA coaches/scouts/decision makers are beneith this blog, quite the opposite. But I will say that the information in the post I did on how team’s will react to Vlade/his reputation came from someone within an organization. It was not my origional idea. In that I also said that there is a book on defending Vlade (run a smaller player at him) and it is something apparently known around the leauge.

    In fact, I was (and still am) not in love with the Vlade signing, but the fact the scouts and GM of the Lakers clearly wanted him should be a sign I was missing something. They know far more than I do.

  28. Cook has proven that, in the Laker system, all he can do defensively is take charges and block an occasional shot from the help position. He CANNOT play individual or team defense effectively. Since the Lakers do not have a center to cover up for this (Brown and Mihm will foul out in the 1st half), they had to go for someone who shows a glimmer of team defense ability. Vlade is as good a shooter as Cook and will also drive to the basket (another need). The fact that he shows an ability to attempt to cover his man makes him an upgrade. Now we have the ability to switch the 3 and 4 (Vlade and LO) as the situation warrents.

    My thinking is that we covered our immediate weaknesses up front (while Quame and Roni develop). Our problem is PG. We have a several-headed solution here. My guess is that the Lakers feel Smush will be ok for the season and someone else will have stepped up by the playoffs. Besides, remember last year was Smush’s first in playing for the entire campaign and he was probably exhausted by the time the playoffs rolled around. That won’t be true this coming year if he has been properly working out.

    I really don’t understand the ‘doomsayers’ continually sounding off with ‘the sky is falling!’

  29. The rumor mill seems to think Al Harrington won’t be coming to LA, so moot point on a trade. Also, I didn’t know that summer was troll season. Or that our magical, mythical friends were drawn to purple and gold so frequently.

  30. “the fact the scouts and GM of the Lakers clearly wanted him should be a sign I was missing something. They know far more than I do.”

    So you would say that Lakers management has a pretty good track record for evaluating talent and making smart acquisitions over the last few years? The safe money is that they made another savvy rather than another misstep?

    “Also, I didn’t know that summer was troll season.”

    Haha… sorry Rob. I’m not a fan in any sense, and as a guest I should probably be more respectful of the feel-good environment here. I’ll try to be more positive in the future, despite the demands of credibility. 🙂

    So yeah. Maybe the Lakers are on to something here. Any more over-rated talent we could target and sign this summer? If we can fill up the roster with that, no one will know who to guard!

  31. Rumor Mill thats the only freaking place we get news these days. LA Times is more slower on Laker news these days then anyone i have witnessed has been dead DailyNews is garbage is there any FREAKING media member these days in LA who gets SOMETHING or anything that is related to the Lakers? we have to have the worst Local update news in the whole freaking league.

  32. LakeMan, please say something positive. Just once. I beg of you.

    Here are some possibilities:
    1)PJ, one of greatest coaches ever, is the coach of the Lakers.
    2)The LA media is slow, but at least we don’t have to suffer through the endless rumors, and rants that the people in Boston and NYC are plagued by.
    3)The color scheme of this website is incredible.
    4)The Laker girls are still around.
    5)We can say that the artist formerly known as #8 is still playing for us, and actually be happy about it.
    6)Remeber peoples predictions for what the lakers would accomplish last summer? I’ll give you a hint: The playoffs were not even a possibilty.
    7)There are no actual Lakes in LA so the mosquito problem is practically non existant.

  33. So you would say that Lakers management has a pretty good track record for evaluating talent and making smart acquisitions over the last few years? The safe money is that they made another savvy rather than another misstep?

    I would say anyone who sits in front of his computer and “knows” he is a better GM than a guy who has spent his lifetime in the game and has an army of scouts giving him information is a fool. At best.

  34. Yeah, don’t question Kupchak, whatever you do. =)

    And whats with the calls for artificial positivity and loyalty? Aren’t objectivity and truth the preferred currency? Or does that start to fade as we enter the fifth and final year of the Sports Guys’ 5 year rule?

    Did the Lakers complete that trade for Garnett yet?

  35. I’m not calling for people to be artificially positive. Many people have made critical comments here. I take no issue as long as they are respectful in tone and well written. And that’s not respectful to the Lakers, that’s respectful to the readers of this site.

    Objectivity, truth and civility would be me preferred currency.

  36. I can’t wait until The Diesel Shaq gets his 6-7th ring while Kobe still has his 3 rings with Shaq-less. you know why? because i know this Organization doesn’t have what it takes… even Shaq quoted saying Buss doesn’t give a damn about winning hes RIGHT ON.. Shaq is revailing what this crappy Organization really is right now enjoy the mediocre years Kobe cause sadly thats what you’re facing in the next few years.

  37. I’m happy for Shaq that he has matured enough to realize he cannot carry a team anymore and must defer to the better player. If he had done that in LA rather than demanding the offense and attention run through him he might still be winning titles here (same with Payton).

  38. Boy, what the world needs now is love, so I’m all for the civility on these websites. Perhaps the thing I’ve done a poor job of conveying in my articles in Tex’s humility. He criticizes and coaches, but experience has made him oh so aware that all of this personnel stuff is much about art and luck and little about science. Still, he knows that you must call them as you see them.
    When he said Phil is not a dreamer, that’s the ultimate compliment. Basketball, indeed all sports management, is not a business for dreamers. Only realists survive.
    In my interviews with Jerry West about personnel, he would always tell me, you can watch what they do on the floor. You can document their skills and talents. You can’t read their hearts. You can document talent and skill. Greatness is another issue.
    My goal is preparing the article was to help the fans have a realistic view of the team. I’m not proposing one trade or another. Tex certainly isn’t.
    It is fair to say the Lakers face some tough choices. Throw everything at the here and now, or plan wisely for the future and hope for the best. If you try to do both of those things, you’ll likely fail at both.
    I didn’t write the article to attack the Lakers or seed disillusion. Just to report the opinions and the efforts of the Lakers coaches as they try to find a balanced perspective on the upcoming season.

    Roland Lazenby
    author of The Show

  39. Roland, Lazenby it’s not about looking at the reality or the clear picture i do infact know this Management has been making bad decisions in the last few years i don’t have faith in them at all if the Lakers feel bad about it then let them prove me wrong or in a better way “PROVE US WRONG”.

    I’m a dieHARD Laker fan but i am through hoping for this management to do the right thing.

  40. I live in Vancouver, Canada. I lived in Baltimore, Maryland before that. I can pretty much say that the vast majority of sports fans, no matter what their teams may do, no matter how many championships their teams win, they will always be negative. The Canucks have had one of the best, most talented teams in hockey for the past 5 years but fans don’t appreciate that; they DESTROY goaltenders and rip into the hearts of the star players. Baltimore football had about a 5 year grace period until we won the Super Bowl, and now if we don’t shutout the other team every game the season is a disappointment; the Orioles.. well, let’s not get started on them.

    The blame for this goes on the shoulders of the fans and the sports media, whose job it is to make you feel like your team should win every game and if they don’t the season is a wash. That’s why people like Platzchie, Paige, Bayless, Mariotti, etc. piss me off so much; they get paid to continue this cycle of sports hatred. Fans, however, like to be negative. They like to blame things and take out their anger, lower their expectations because they don’t want to feel that hurt and disappointment.

    Being a sports fan – a true sports fan – is being with a team through everything and remaining positive about your situation. The situations where there is absolutely no hope are few and far in between, and those cities (Hello Hawks fans!) deserve every second to bitch and complain about the way their teams are handled. Being a fan is finding the optimistic points of view about your team and cheering them on, standing by their side through thick and thin – just like a relationship. Sure you can quit on your team and go find a new one, but then other sports fans will see you as someone who jumps around on trends. You can whine and moan about the team you are with, but eventually people will just get tired of listening to you (that is unless all of your friends are that type of whiner).

    This is why I love FB&G – the majority of the usual posters are intelligent, thoughtful, and above all – POSITIVE. Not homers with the blinders on, but people who love the team they cheer for and want to shed light on the positive aspects of the team.

  41. Andrew Bynum is finally showing his true colors of purple and gold!

  42. “It helped a lot when he (Kobe Bryant) found out he (Andrew Bynum ) really worked this summer,” Coach Phil Jackson said Tuesday. “But I think there’s also proof in the pudding. He (Kobe Bryant) saw him come out this preseason and play hard and be in condition to play with the guys instead of being trailing all the time with stamina problems