Itâ€™s no bit news that one of the keys to the Lakers improving this year is better play out of the center spot. And most Laker fans would wish for Andrew Bynum to be the guy takes a big step forward, improves his game and takes charge of the position.
But what weâ€™ve seen through the first two preseason games from a more fit looking Bynum is some of the inconsistency that weâ€™ve seen in years past â€” for example he looked great in the first half against Golden State last Thursday, then like the worst player on the floor for a stretch in the second half.
Drew realizes this is a year he should step forward, and said that in an interesting interview with the LA Times last week. He also understands that Phil is leaning another direction right now (although Bynum may not fully understand why).
“This year’s the year,” he said. “I kind of think we go as far as our young guys take us, me and Javaris [Crittenton] being the young guys, going out there and getting some things done on our second unit. I’m still trying to go out there and be a starter, but as of right now, I think Phil [Jackson] is favoring Chris Mihm — veteran status and all that.”
Note to Drew: Coaches are big on consistency. Real big.
Tom Ziller read that article and posted some interesting thoughts over at Fanhouse, talking about how he is impressed with Bynumâ€™s maturity.
Bresnahan brings up comparisons to Jermaine O’Neal’s long maturation process with the Blazers. There’s a big difference, though: Bynum’s been given a real chance. Drew logged almost 1,800 minutes last year; J.O. didn’t get near that level until his age-22 season (his first in Indiana). And Bynum had a good year — his offensive numbers were solid, his defense was no worse than any other Lakers big.
All this Kobe ‘win now’ business has flipped our conventional wisdom on Bynum — sure, he’s not ready to dominate right now. But he’s on the path to being a very good player within a few years. He’s certainly a mile ahead of where J.O. was at this age.
Itâ€™s tough to gauge how much faster JOâ€™s game would have matured if he had been given minutes early in his career. But even if you think Bynum can someday be a JO level player (and Iâ€™m not sold on that), the question of time is a real one for the Lakers.
There are no easy answers to this one.
If you want to see some thoughts on the Lakers season as a whole, a Lakers preview I did for Dennis Velasco at about.com is up. The themes in that preview â€” better defense, need for better play at the five â€” will look familar to regular readers here. To cut to the bottom line, I have the Lakers at 46 wins this season if the roster remains as is (sorry, Dr. Buss, but you need a lot of breaks to reach 50 wins and I don’t think they’ll all fall your way). I’ll have a more detailed Laker preview on this site closer to the end of the month. In the mean time, check out the about.com one, as well as the previews of the rest of the Pacific and the NBA from other team bloggers.
Also, over at Clipsnation, the 51st Carnival of the NBA is up, with thoughts (and lots of video) from NBA bloggers around the spectrum.