A Live Blog Special: Examining Andrew Bynum

nomuskles —  January 17, 2009

I owe Mr. Andrew Bynum a half-hearted apology. Half-hearted because he contributes more than I thought, but still has some glaring deficiencies. After the past few games, and really the entire season, I have been a little bit down on the young’n. I believed that his lack of fitness and tenacity have been hurting the Lakers all season. I was disappointed that many of the problems the Lakers faced against Boston in the finals, including inconsistent effort, seemed to still be present. The comments around here have been pointing out Andrew’s lack of results on the boards and last night’s game hardly disagrees with those sentiments. He has not been garnering rebounds at anything nearing a respectable rate. Why is that? Was it laziness? Was it lack of fitness? Something else entirely?

I re-watched the game against the Magic and how Andrew faired when pitted against his supposed future rival in Dwight Howard. Instead of watching the ball, all I did was watch Bynum (and some of Howard for comparison). After closely examining Bynum, my overall opinion of him has not changed, but I understand his strengths and weaknesses different than before. While it’d be hasty to judge Andrew on just one game, especially against a force like Howard, it’s what I’ve got so we we’ll go with that. (The frustration of losing another one has driven me to look at the details a lot more closely.)

Andrew was not a terrific rebounder last night mainly due to lack of positioning and effort. Being focused on the negatives of the game due to the loss, I already had a hunch this was the case. Watching more attentively to Bynum opened up my eyes to a couple of other tendencies I hadn’t noticed before. Andrew takes a lot of offensive possessions off. He often sits on the lane opposite the side of the ball and does nothing to demand the ball. When he does catch it, he’s often like an archer at 1000 meters: too far out of his range to be effective. Another trend I noticed was Bynum is far more effective on the defensive end than I give him credit for. Many plays finish without Bynum earning a stat in the box score, but he actually contributed greatly to the success of the defense.

Observations

Rebounding: First and foremost, I considered his rebounding. If you read the notes below from the first half, you’ll notice, as I did, that Bynum doesn’t set himself up to be in good position to rebound at the defensive end, nor does he chase down rebounds. And on at least one play Bynum was too tired to reach up and grab a rebound that went straight over his shoulder to Howard. I’d say, without a doubt, Andrew’s lack of interest (or ability?) in rebounding is his single-most frustrating attribute. Andrew has two major habits that contribute to his shortcomings in rebounding. On defense, he doesn’t always block out a person. Sometimes he just puts a hand on a player from the other team, not getting a seal (more often) and sometimes he just stands around under the basket (occasionally). A lot of times, he relies on his height to cover up his lack of effort to establish position. Andrew’s teammates also cover-up for his disinterest by hustling after the rebounds themselves. Kobe, Lamar, and Ariza hustle for rebounds and often snag ones that seem Bynum’s for the taking. I might be remembering it wrong, but I believe Bynum was much more interested in skying for rebounds last year. 

The other habit I noticed was Bynum will go to the basket during offensive penetration looking for an offensive rebound (until he gets tired). His height was good for a couple of offensive rebounds, especially when Howard left Bynum to help his teammates. That being said, he does not go after rebounds (offensive or defensive) fiercely. He only grabs the ones that fall in his hands. Last night, Andrew did not hunger for loose balls; he passively collected rebounds that came his way. The bad news is this indicates a lack of desire. The good news is, he’s young and maybe he’ll figure out how to go after rebounds as time goes on. Cross your fingers Lakers nation, this is one of the main factors that will effect how high Bynum’s ceiling really is.

Offense: I hadn’t noticed before, how many possessions Bynum is just a non-factor. He touches the ball infrequently and when he does, it’s often in the midpost or further, where he doesn’t have as many moves. I realize that his defender was usually Dwight Howard and that it can be intimidating and fruitless to force it. However, Bynum received so few touches in the framework of the offense that it didn’t matter what kind of moves he could try against Howard, he never got a chance to show them off. You would like to blame the guards for not getting Bynum enough touches, but if you watch Bynum closely, he doesn’t work to establish position the way Shaq used to. He doesn’t make himself a big enough target where a post entry pass will be successful so the ball goes away from him. If he learns how to establish deeper position, he’ll be much more effective. It should be noted that Bynum has a more polished offensive game than Howard. Bynum has learned how to recognize and counter different defensive postures in the low post. Howard rushes himself and doesn’t have anything resembling a reliable midrange game. Howard doesn’t do a great job feeling his defender and exploiting the weakness. When you’re as athletic as he is, maybe you don’t have to. Low post offensive moves is the only place where Bynum has some advantage over Howard, and yet, he never showed off his full capabilities because he couldn’t receive the ball in scoring position.

Defense: Bynum’s defense is where I was surprised the most. Bynum was involved in countless pick and rolls and performed admirably on most of them. He was aided in this game by Howard’s low skill-level with the midrange game. Andrew could just sink down off the pick and allow his teammate to get around the screen while he slowed the dribbler and kept tabs on Howard. His presence discouraged Nelson and Hedo from attacking the basket time after time. There were a few times where Nelson exploited the PnR but for as many times as the PnR was run, the Lakers really didn’t suffer a lot due to Bynum. If Shaq or Kwame was in there I’d bet on at least twice the success rate. Bynum was also there a few times to alter shots that would end up missing as he better understands how to rotate in help situations. Early in the year, he frequently showed up late and got into a lot of foul trouble. Bynum’s presence in the game was definitely a positive defensively but he didn’t earn many stats in doing so. This is where I owe Bynum the biggest apology because he really expends quite a bit of energy trying to stay in a strong position. There are lapses, but much more often he’s doing the right thing. Howard is also good on the defensive end, although he plays a lot more by feel. Like Bynum, he changes shots and provides support for his guards. Lakers didn’t run pick and roll too many times with Howard as a defender, but at least on one occasion they exploited him for Bynum’s alley-oop lay-in.

Conditioning: Some folks will never been endurance runners, but Bynum would benefit greatly from more conditioning. Because he’s sucking wind, Bynum picks his spots to give bursts of energy. He plays hard when he’s involved in Pick and Roll and he plays hard when he’s got the ball. Those are the only two times he turns it into high gear. Setting screens, going after rebounds, and boxing out are not where he spends his energy. Better conditioning would improve all aspects of his game and it’s probably the crux of most of his weaknesses. You’ll notice that he mostly disappears on the court in the second half of the second quarter when he gets fatigued.

Conclusion

At 21, Bynum still has more years to grow, but he will only do so if he shows the willingness to do so. Based on this season and last night, I’d say the magic 8-ball is “not enough information.” If Bynum can correct some of his lazier habits he can be a cornerstone for the team in the future. But if he cannot, he will be merely good, not great. Conditioning is one of those things that NBA players should have in spades and Bynum is frankly lagging in that department. I consider that to be a lack of effort on his part to get in shape, which does not bode well for him putting in the effort to become a great player and improve all aspects of his game. Contradictorily, if you read the LA Times recently, they did a spotlight on Bynum and Kareem’s work together. They review tape at Bynum’s house going over specific ways in which Bynum can improve. Kareem mentions that Bynum will be aided by seeing how he can move without the ball, especially when Kobe is double-teamed. This is something Pau does well and Bynum would do well to learn. Beyond that and conditioning, Bynum needs to work on displaying tenacity in chasing down rebounds and establishing himself on offense BEFORE he has the ball. If he can do that, his contributions to the team will be much more significant. I am greatly encouraged by his defensive presence and hope that he continues to develop into a much smarter and effective defender as the year progresses. We all hope that Bynum turns into an all-star but he’s got a few obstacles to conquer before he does. 
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Below is the Delayed Blog I put together. After three hours and only finishing the first half, I gave up taking detailed notes.
Positive plays by Bynum in bold.

1st Quarter

Tipoff: Dwight Howard employs the Shaq-like quick tip into his own backcourt.
11:40 – Defense: Bynum forces a pass on screen and roll with Dwight Howard and Hedo Torkoglu. Magic earn a good look from the corner that misses and Bynum faces Howard outside the restricted area to prevent Howard from getting the rebound. The lack of good position forces Howard to concede the rebound to Kobe who hustled for the ugly rebound.

11:34 – Offense: Quick bucket in semi-transition for the Lakers as Kobe took the ball all the way and as Bynum was jogging (not running) trailing the play, kobe found him. Only then did Bynum kick it into gear and finished with a strong slam. It was basically uncontested as Howard came over to help against Kobe.

11:15 – Defense: Andrew gets stuck on Jameer Nelson on a pick and roll play at the top of the circle. Bynum gives him to two steps of cushion to prevent penetration and then provides a late challenge to Nelson’s shot which splashes in. The key to the play is actually Dwight Howard using his size and his hands to make sure Fisher can’t get back to Nelson by taking Fisher down into the paint. In my opinion, it was an illegal screen (which is rarely called in the NBA). Since it isn’t called, it’s a very effective move. Bynum hasn’t shown an ability to provide that kind of screen consistently and should be on his list of things to add to his repertoire. Besides the mismatch of Bynum on Nelson, the Magic actually have Rashard Lewis moderately open as Pau is shading in to help Bynum against penetration and Hedo Turkoglu is wide open in the corner as his defender is Radmanovic and he goes into the paint to help Fisher guard Howard. The effective screen and roll compromised the defense. It’s not necessarily Bynum’s fault, but he was involved in the initial breakdown.

11:08 – Offense: Another quick hit from the Lakers who show much more energy early in the game. Kobe fed Andrew with deep post position against Howard. He had beaten Howard down the floor and earns himself a slightly contested layup. 4 points so far for Bynum. Great job on this play of hustling down the floor in transition.

10:55 – Defense: The Magic try another pick and roll on the side with Nelson and Howard but Nelson goes away from the pick and Fisher deflects the pass. Bynum did a good job discouraging Nelson from penetrating while guarding Howard at the same time. Result is a turnover. Bynum is already starting to get winded. His defensive position is too upright.

10:50 – Offense: Bynum lags behind the play as fisher brings the ball up. Bynum is the pressure release out high at the free throw line. With Dwight Howard sagging off him to guard against Gasol’s presence in the low post, Bynum decides to shoot an uncontested 15-footer. Not a bad decision, as no one else had a better scoring opportunity, but it’s off the mark. I have to believe Andrew’s conditioning played a part in that one. Pau’s work down low earned Bynum that shot. Lakers fans would hope bynum could repay him with a bucket.

10:28 – Defense: The Magic don’t bring the ball near Bynum and Howard doesn’t go for the offensive rebound. Then again, neither does Bynum. Kobe shows more tenacity going after the rebound and corrals it. We’ll call that a rebound Bynum was in position to grab but didn’t find it necessary to chase. That’s the first laction from Bynum so far. Many more to come.

10:20 – Offense: Bynum sets the laziest screen in history doesn’t get in position to set a screen and Kobe doesn’t get any space because of it. Bynum doesn’t roll with any kind of authority and Kobe passes the ball to the other side of the floor. Pau has a mismatch against Rashard Lewis on the block. Pau shoots a turnaround that Howad goes over to challenge. Andrew floated into the paint and grabs the rebound and gets an easy putback. +1 for being in the right place at the right time, -1 for providing nothing early in the possession.

10:10 – Transition: The camera stays on Bynum and shows how low his lower jaw is hanging as he’s sucking in oxygen. Dwight is clearly not dragging as much on his close up.

10:00 – Defense: Courtney Lee and Dwight Howard pick and roll. Drew had actually fallen down, tripping over Radmanovic and was thus out of position. Kobe goes underneath the Howard screen so completely that Courtney Lee has a wide open shot from 19 feet. Bynum is bent over at the waist (fatigue) while the shot is going up and only stick one arm on Dwight Howard to see if he’s going to go after the rebound. When he doesn’t, Bynum is content to let Pau get the rebound. -1 on the whole team. No one boxed out their man. Seriously? Two minutes into the game and Bynum already wants to put his hands on his knees?

9:42 – Offense: Bynum takes the play off. A tipped rebound is gathered by Jameer Nelson and Bynum provides matador pressure. All five magic players beat him and Fisher to the other end of the floor.

9:36 – Defense: Four lakers in the paint in transition. Two Magic players in the paint and three on the perimeter. Sounds like a recipe for success? Rashard takes a three that misses. Guess who couldn’t get off the ground to get a rebound that goes over his shoulder to Dwight Howard? Mr. Andrew Bynum. He doesn’t put any effort into boxing howard out while the shot goes up, and then is surprised by the fairly hard bounce. His lack of fitness is killing his effort right now. When Howard gets the ball, Bynum walks to cover the space between him and Howard. Luckily for Bynum, Howard lost the ball starting his post move. +1 for being a big enough body that Howard can’t just bowl him over. -3 for lagging in transition, not boxing out, and giving up an offensive rebound.

9:14 – Offense: Another lazy screen for Kobe. Pau goes to work on the block and shoots a running jump hook. Bynum walks the entire possession. Howard’s lack of discipline in going after a blocked shot means Bynum is again free to try and snag an offensive rebound. He is fouled in the process. Don’t make the mistake of thinking the opportunity was a result of work. It was a result of drifting and height.

9:01 – Offense: Bynum does an okay job making himself available to teammates, but he does not try and back Howard into the paint to establish good position when he’s on the block. Instead, The Space Cadet splashes one home from three. Bynum makes no attempt at a rebound.

8:36 – Defense: Howard receives the ball against Bynum in the post but is a little bit outside the paint. He turns and faces. Bynum, in all his wisdom, gives Howard about four feet of space in a good defensive stance. Howard decides to shoot the Tim Duncan bank shot from 8 feet but misses ugly. +1 to Bynum for knowing Howard isn’t a great shooter.

8:23 – Offense: Bynum expends a good amount of energy. Pau finds him in the low post and Bynum feels he has a chance to score. Great footwork getting closer to the basket with one dribble, faking the drop step baseline and then coming back into the lane with a jump hook. The only problem is Howard. Scary athletic play. Howard swiped down to try and stop Bynum’s shot from going up. When he missed, he had time to gather himself and leap (from about two feet away) and reject Bynum’s jump hook. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone make a play on Bynum’s jump hook like that before because he releases it from above the rim. Bynum perhaps should’ve tried to go more into Howard’s body. +1 to Bynum for making that happen. +a little more to Howard for being who we thought he was.

8:12 – Defense: Bynum is providing baseline support against penetration with his arms close down by his sides. Turkoglu takes a dribble to the baseline getting around Gasol. This brings bynum over a little bit further to stop the penetration. Hedo makes the pass to a cutting Howard. Bynum reaches and draws a foul. Bynum’s mistake was only at the end when he reached. He was playing the penetration perfectly but Pau needed to recover more quickly to stop the pass from splitting him and Bynum.

8:10 – As Howard shoots free throws, Bynum has his hands on his knees and is in no mood to go after a rebound.

7:46 – Offense: Bynum isn’t involved in the play but drifts toward the rim to see if he could get another rebound. There isn’t need as Kobe hits that difficult left handed shot. +1 for putting himself in a satisfactory position.

7:39 – Defense: Pick and Roll with Nelson and Howard. Because Howard isn’t a threat from outside, Bynum just sags off and guards the paint. This might be due to laziness, but it’s a good strategy against Howard. He’s much more dangerous rolling to he basket than popping out for a shot. PnR doesn’t result in much for the Magic and they reset. They actually run the triangle offense to get Howard an isolation against Bynum in the post, but outside the paint. Bynum stays at home against Howard and Fisher comes over to help and Howard’s spinning jump hook with his right hand is off the mark.

7:12 – Defense: more pick and roll, this time with Hedo and Howard. Bynum plays it well, again, by sagging into the paint to prevent penetration and the roll. Hedo passes it back out to the perimeter. Rashard Lewis takes it into bynum’s body and throws up a shot hoping to draw a foul. Bynum didn’t go for a shot block, just kind of stood there. No whistle and the shot drops in anyway. Bynum was in no position to get the rebound if there was one. Perhaps due to the contact and thinking he was going to get a foul call, he found himself down by the L of Lakers on the baseline. +1 for providing a resistance to the penetrating Lewis. -1 for then disappearing from the play. SVG is annoyed that no foul was called.

6:49 – offense: bynum is on the weak side with Kobe who shoots the ball from 20 feet. Bynum makes no effort to go after the rebound while Pau actually has inside position against rashard Lewis. -1 for effort. Ariza would’ve gone after it, which is why I <3 Ariza.

6:40 – Defense: Nelson and Howard run pick and roll again. This time Nelson figures it out and dribbles all the way to the bucket. Bynum initially shows but Nelson keeps going and as Howard rolls, Bynum goes back to Howard. Nelson gets a free layup. Kobe was the help man but he was reluctant to leave Courtney Lee all alone on the three point line in the corner. He actually got frozen and guarded neither. Not really Bynum’s fault as Howard is such a threat and he had to make a decision on who to guard.

6:34 – Offense: lakers play 4 on 5 as bynum doesn’t get into offensive end before Derek jacks up a three.

6:11 – Offense: Bynum expends zero energy as Kobe has an iso on the other side. Kobe settles for the jumper that won’t go.

6:09 – Defense: Bynum does a great job racing with Howard down the floor in transition. He actually beats Howard down the floor. Dwight gets the ball in the low post, again outside the paint (Bynum fronted Howard nicely while he was in the paint to prevent him receiving it there). Dwight throws it out to the perimeter because he’s too far away. He and Hedo run pick and roll. Andrew and radman switch. Hedo shoots a jumper that is lightly contested by Bynum. Howard pushes Rad out of bounds and slams home the putback. -1 to the refs.

5:37 – Offense: Bynum facilitated the offense from the high post well, but doesn’t go towards the basket to exploit the Magic rotation. Pau goes up for a shot and Bynum is already retreating even though no one is guarding him. -1 for effort and/or awareness. Howard gets away with a foul on Pau that isn’t whistled. Lakers lead by 3. 13-10.

5:29 – Offense: Bynum isn’t part of the offense and Fisher’s airball is caught by Howard. Howard did a good job keeping the non-effort Bynum on his back. Good job by Howard executing the fundamentals.

5:20 – Defense: Howard isn’t involved in the offense and Bynum does a good job staying with him. Pau provides help on penetration and gets called for a foul. During the second free throw, Pau and Bynum both block out well.

5:04 – Offense: Bynum makes himself available in the low post, but doesn’t work to get good position and receives it too far from the basket. He passes it out and the ball won’t come back to him. Howard makes sure to block him out as the shot goes up.

4:42 – Defense – Excellent play by Bynum here (and all the Lakers). Turkoglu and Howard run pick and roll on the wing. Radman gets caught on the pick so Bynum slides over to stop Hedo’s penetration. Hedo drives baseline but Hedo runs out of real estate as Bynum moves his feet extremely well. Pau slid off Battie to take away Howard’s roll (Kobe then comes off Nelson to take Battie at the top of the circle) and radman and Bynum trap Hedo. Hedo ends up throwing it wildly into the backcourt to get a violation. That was textbook defense by the Lakers and it was due to Drew being able to cut off the penetration, something he has not been skilled at this year. +2 for moving feet brilliantly against a faster man.

4:14 – Offense: Bynum isn’t involved in the offense. He stays on the weak side not doing much of anything, which is sort of what he’s apparently supposed to do (keeps spacing optimal). However, Rad gets stuck at one point at the elbow with his back to the basket – not his forte. Bynum could’ve curled to the basket and put the Magic defense in a compromising position. Instead he just hangs out on his side of the lane. A long jumper goes up and Bynum doesn’t go after the rebound. Turns out okay as the Space Cadet drills it.

3:58 – Defense: Bynum gets caught out of position as Dwight Howard acted like he was going to receive in the post but instead spun around Bynum and goes for the alley-oop. Bynum was caught severely flat footed. Not only that, the pass is off the mark so Howard can’t convert, but because Bynum has given up, he is nowhere to provide any help and Battie gets an uncontested dunk. -1, but it should be pointed out that every big has probably been beaten at some point by Howard’s quickness. It’s the lack of effort to get back into the play that earns him the minus.

3:44 –Offense: Kobe is double teamed and Bynum does not make himself available at all.

3:34 – Defense: In transition, Bynum does a great job preventing Howard from establishing good position and boxes him out. Unfortunately, the magic get a three to fall.

3:20 – Offense: Quick offense this possession as pau receives it down low and Howard goes over to help. Bynum moves quickly to the basket but isn’t in a position to receive a pass, which is fine. He’s there to get the offensive rebound or get an interior pass should the defense get out of position. A slight problem with him going to the basket is that Hedo came over to help and clogged the lane for Pau. Unfortunately Pau gets the ball slapped out of his hands by Howard. That’s not really Bynum’s fault, that means Hedo’s man is open now if Pau could’ve found him. Bynum gets subbed out for Odom.

The couple games of “rest” for Lamar seem to have done him well. He is hustling on defense and making sure to box out his man when the shot goes up. He’s also much more active on pick and roll defense then Bynum.

2nd Quarter

12:00 – Offense: Bynum is back in as Pau and Kobe get to rest. Bynum immediately goes to work against the smaller Gortat. (Howard is still on the bench.) Bynum misses the jump hook in the lane and misses the put back when the rebound falls to him. He doesn’t convert but good energy to start the second.

11:38 – Defense: Gortat smokes Bynum down the floor which Stu makes note of. Then on pick and roll on the wing, Gortat and Anthony Johnson play it to perfection. Bynum shows on Johnson on the sideline and Johnson finds the rolling Gortat who shoots left-handed over Lamar. Nice bucket for the undersized center.

11:15 – Offense: Bynum goes to work on the same spot in the post (still a little too far from the basket). He sets up the drop step and goes to it. The turnaround jumper from 10 feet over Gortat splashes home. +1. 8 points for Bynum so far.

10:55 – Defense: Bynum is guarding Gortat on the interior who never receives the ball. Bynum is playing lazy defense, standing straight up and down. Fisher intercepts a pass on the play.

10:43 – Offense: Bynum on the weak side is content to watch the rebound go to the Magic.

10:37 – Defense: Magic in quick transition. Lakers completely go to sleep. Ariza gets beat off the dribble by Hedo. Sasha reaches in without moving his feat. Lamar is there to challenge the layup but Hedo feeds Rashard who is wide open for three in the corner and he nails it. Fisher tried to get to him but was super late. Bynum didn’t box out anyone even though Gortat was standing right next to him. -1 for not boxing out.

10:20 – Offense: Ariza drives and dunks over Gortat and gets the foul. Spectacular play. Andrew not involved.

10:10 – Defense: After a foul. Magic run late into the clock. Hedo takes it strong to the hoop and Bynum is super late on the help. Hedo draws a small amount of body contact (Bynum was trying to jump sideways). The foul goes against Bynum. Questionable call but fairly common. Bynum reacts demonstrably.

9:49 – Offense: drew isn’t in view. Lamar gets called for a moving pick.

9:35 – Defense: Bynum lets Gortat roll to the bucket on the high pick and roll. Gortat doesn’t get the ball and Drew is lost. He’s running around not guarding anyone. The shot goes up and because he’s got such a height advantage, he manages to take the rebound away from Gortat. Good job trying to recover, but he shouldn’t have needed to recover on that one.

9:20 – Offense: Ariza and Bynum run a weak side pick and roll. Bynum sets a good enough screen to earn Ariza an open jumper from 19 feet that he drains. +1 for Bynum’s screen.

D 9:10 – Pick and roll. Gortat gets a moving pick call. Bynum was in good position to stop penetration by Johnson.

O9:00 – sasha shoots a three that doesn’t go. Bynum uninvolved.

D8:40 – bynum does a great job blocking Gortat out. The ball goes to his side but he just lets Fisher get the rebound. He never takes a step towards it.

O8:44 – PnR mismatch at the elbow with Fisher. Andrew slips the screen perfectly and his height allows him to receive the alley-oop pass from Fisher. Magic read it, but couldn’t do anything about it. Bynum is fouled and misses the dunk. +1 on footwork to get open. Jason Lezak interview. Free throws: Bynum gets the first and the second.

D8:38 – howard is back in. Andrew shows well on a pick and roll with Nelson. He’s in a great defensive stance and forces Nelson to pass. No one has picked up Howard who found his way into the paint and bynum is far away and tries to recover. Luckily, the Lakers deflect a pass that goes out of bounds. Good sequence by the Lakers. To force the Magic to operate with only 10 seconds on the shot clock. More PnR with Nelson. Andrew contests Nelson’s shot that misses. Lakers can’t get the rebound (Howard’s activity caused it) and it goes out of bounds back to the Magic. +2 for Bynum so far. Magic get a jumper and Bynum actively boxes out Howard. No one boxed out Hedo, but Hedo doesn’t catch the rebound and it goes out of bounds. Lakers catch a break. +1 more on effort from Bynum.

O7:55 – Bynum not involved in the offense. Fisher draws a shooting foul.

D7:40 – Bynum involved in PnR with Howard and Hedo. Howard gets away with a questionable screen. Hedo takes the jumper and makes it over Bynum.

O7:15 – Bynum isnot’ involved as Kobe has a mismatch iso against JJ Redick.

D7:10 – Howard/Nelson PnR. Bynum rejects Nelson’s runner. Hedo tracks down the ball. Bynum holds his ground against Hedo’s layup and causes him to miss. Howard picks up the rebound and is fouled by Fisher and Bynum. Bynum lucky not to pick up his second. Bynum is alert on the free throws. +1.

O6:53 – Lakers run the triangle. Weak side screen and roll Bynum and Kobe. Bynum rolls and help is late so kobe lobs it over the top for Andrew to drop it in. easy deuce. Great pass by kobe. SVG calls timeout.

D6:38 – Bynum and Howard have tea together at the weakside elbow and after a while, the Magic turn the ball over on a traveling call without either big man moving more than a foot in any direction.

O6:22 – Bynum’s size shields Hedo from getting to Ariza who shoots the three. It misses. I’m fairly sure Bynum meant to do that, so +1.

D6:15 – Howard establishes DEEP position in the middle of the paint with Bynum on his back. Jump hook good for two. Bynum didn’t fight for position at all. -1 for letting Howard get so deep. (Again, to be fair, no one is able to keep Howard out on every possession.)

O6:06 – Drew does not establish himself as a target in the post—standing with his knees locked. And then he just floats around the lane like a piece of bark floating in a river. However, when Fisher drives and Howard goes to help, Drew does go towards the basket for the possible rebound. Fisher makes a reverse layup.

D5:45 – Magic go early in the shot clock with a Redick three. Bynum boxed out Howard and Ariza gets the long rebound. Ariza misses the contested layup on the one-man fast break. Bynum didn’t get above a light jog and when he got to the free throw line he saw what was happening and turned around the other way.

O5:30 – Howard/nelson PnR again. Kobe holds Nelson going around the pick. Bynum still plays his sagging defense. Kobe picks up the foul. Drew will sit for Pau. Howard immediately goes to work against Pau and draws a foul in the lane. Bynum 12 points, 3 rebound. 5/9 from the field. 16 minutes. Not bad so far.

Pau and Howard are both active. Pau does well during this stint. Howard struggles a little bit. He might need a breather too. He goes out at 2:28. Bynum comes back.

O2:23 – Bynum uninvolved.

D2:03 – Bynum involved in Gortat/Nelson PnR. Nelson gets a jumper to fall.

O1:50 – bynum uninvolved.

D1:33 – Bynum boxes out no one.

O1:25 – Bynum runs the floor well but doesn’t’ get it right away. He then disappears from the play.

D1:15 – Bynum barely boxes out Gortat. Lakers get the rebound.

O0:54 – Bynum just kind of leans on his man when Pau’s fadeaway in the lane goes up.

D0:35 – Bynum does okay defending the paint. But doesn’t do a good job boxing out, or going after a rebound. Magic get a second chance and convert it. Drew did force Nelson to kick it out on the penetration, but Courtney Lee nails it from three. It was a great pass and nothing anyone could do about it. The Lakers were in scramble mode.

O0:10 – Last try for the Lakers. Bynum is momentarily matched up against Nelson but Fisher takes the three instead. Bynum isn’t in the mindset to go after the rebound as Gortat puts a body on him.

D0:05 – Orlando’s last second look is way too good. Point the finger on this one at Kobe who left Courtney Lee wide open and decided to guard no one in the paint. I was livid when I saw this the first time around. The Lakers give up way too many good looks due to laziness because they think the clock will run out. Lakers lead 44-52.

Dwight Howard has 9 points, 7 boards, and 2/7 FGs. Not exactly lighting it up. Bynum’s size has bothered Howard enough that he’s a little bit off his game.

3rd quarter

Bynum has a good start the third quarter. Showing good hustle. A few nice offensive moves. He is in a bad defensive positions a couple times and is forced to foul Howard. Still shows no nose for how to get himself in position to get rebounds (offensive or defensive). Howard struggles a little bit but does good work as well. When Bynum goes to the bench, Howard shows more activity and picks up a few rebounds. He’s also more aggressive offensively.

4th Quarter

Defensively Bynum struggles. He doesn’t rotate well, doesn’t play the PnR well, and has mixed results one on one with Howard. At 6:15 – Bynum let’s Dwight get an offensive rebound (no box out) and then Dwight gets an alley-oop because Bynum is flat footed.

Offensively, he draws more attention from Howard, which allows others to have just a little more space. One of Bynum’s habits that comes out is that Bynum floats towards the basket when the shot goes up if no one guards him, but he doesn’t go to the rim with purpose.

During Drew’s second stint after a quick breather, Drew never touched the ball on the offensive end. It’s a result of him being on the opposite side of the ball and not making himself a big target in the post. Drew doesn’t get into the game for meaningful minutes in crunch time.

nomuskles

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38 responses to A Live Blog Special: Examining Andrew Bynum

  1. Speaking of effort, it must have taken a long time to write that up.

    Nice read, good job!

  2. If the main deficit is attitude, conditioning, and passion, maybe it wasn’t the best idea to have Kareem tutor the kid. That’s no knock on Kareem, who had a sort of inner intensity and tons of heart to compensate, but I could definitely see his approach as being too cerebral to work on a 21-year-old without much appreciation for the nuances of the game.

    Maybe Bynum needs someone to get in his head and promote the idea that he has all the physical tools to go out and kick ass and physically dominate 95% of the centers in this league on a nightly basis. Something tells me that that person might not be Kareem.

  3. Next time please make your posts more detailed – this was way too flimsy!

  4. While Drew certainly has added polish to his post game, he needs to realize that proper positioning will be the easiest way to get to his 20-10 goal. He works way too hard for buckets because he catches them too far out, and his lack of aggression on the boards costs him not only in rebounds but also easy putbacks.

    My hope is that it has more to do with his conditioning than his “motor,” because you just can’t teach desire.

  5. Damn, nice analysis. Been checking out this website the last few weeks. Between watching the games (And JD2K’s vids when I miss the match) and reading DB (of LG fame) and this blog, keeping tabs on the Lakers is easier then ever, as well as more informative.

    Thanks for the effort, much appreciated, look forward to continuing to read the insights posted here. If anyone knows any other great blogs (even for other teams, but laker/NBA in general would be preferred) a link would be greatly appreciated.

    Take it easy,
    Peace

  6. What worries me is that Andrew has been working with Kareem since he was drafted. If he doesn’t respect conditioning and has some lazy habits around the basket, I have doubts he will develop these. He won’t have Kareem for too much longer, methinks. Then what? An average working stiff?

  7. This Lakers roster doesn’t NEED greatness from Bynum, but it would certainly help!

  8. re: bynum, has anyone else noticed that there seems to be little interest by the coaching staff of bringing bynum across the lane from weak to strong and trying to get him the ball as he crosses as they used to do with Diesel Who Must Not Be Named… (ideally with DWMNBN stopping right under the rim for a quick dunk before his defender could push him out)?

    specifically, i’ve noticed that when bynum is on the weak side, more times than not, the ball never swings back over to the strong side but rather, the ‘advantage’ the lakers apparently try to exploit is the space between the (strong side) perimeter defender and the post defender, i.e., the midrange jumpshot. oddly, to make matters worse, it seems to me that the players over on this weakside are rarely the few slashers who could best exploit the opportunity to get the rim (kobe, trevor).

    for those who know more than I do:

    1. why so little interest in bringing bynum from weak to strong in the hopes of getting him the ball in ideal position before the defender can set?

    2. if the goal is to plant bynum on the weak side and keep him there and never swing the ball around, why is kobe usually over on bynum’s side and not playing opposite him (weak side) where all the space is? is the goal of the triangle really a Fish or Sasha PUJIT?!

    I watch every game but admit that I don’t know the Xs and Os as well as so many here, so please elucidate/correct my idiotic mistakes.

    Love the site by the way– a welcome contrast to the usual ‘Kobe rulez and you know it!’ garbage.

  9. sorry, it would have been more accurate to have written ‘is the goal of the triangle really a Fish or Sasha PUJNIT (pull up jumper NOT in transition)?

  10. Great detailed Live blog about Bynum in his last game, just what I like to see here now and again. The conditioning issue confuses me, he even said in his own blog that he was running drills on his own to improve in this area during the summer after the surgery. Attitude cannot be teached but we will see what happens over time with him.

    We are in charge of our attitudes.

  11. Perhaps the Lakers and Rockets could make a differ type of trade.
    Let Kareem work w/Yao for a summer and Olajuwon work w/Bynum.

  12. Look, if the Lakers are gonna win the championship this year, they need not a good Andrew Bynum, but a great Andrew Bynum. Great equals 15 points and 10 boards a night with a few block shots. Andrew has improved his point total and has certainly added more to his offense, now he needs to improve the rebounding, but the only way he is gonna do that is by trying. He needs to work hard and go at the ball more. I want to see more effort from Bynum.

  13. tbh I don’t think we need the 15 points, I’d prefer he went Dennis Rodman on the league and got 15 rebounds! Its just so important to get rebounds. I noticed the whole game van gundy was going ballistic at his players as if they were losing the rebounding battle, when we were the ones who generally looked pretty weak on the boards.

    Counterintuitively, I think when we go ‘small’ in height we are actually going ‘big’ when it comes to rebounding. Lamar is a beast and at least Pau tries if he isn’t Dwight Howard. I’d prefer Bynum got technicals like Pau for trying to hard than what he serves up sometimes.

    I think the reason a lot of people are frustrated is that we can understand if Bynum never becomes Shaq or Kareem or even an all star, what we can’t understand is not boxing out and chasing rebounds. It is talentwise one of the easiest parts of the game but also one of the most important. Hell, there are players who can’t do anything else that make a living out of it.

  14. Nomuscles,

    I have long felt that Andrew should play about 20 or so minutes per game–not always paired with the #1 guy on the other team. Unfortunately, I couldn’t present a good detailed rationale for such heresy. Your analysis helps.

    Unfortunately, the game with Orlando may not provide the best data to draw such a conclusion. Howard is such a special player, other game analyses might turn out quite different.

    In your analysis of this game, Andrew is virtually done by halftime. He only gets 2 points in the second half and has totally worn down by the fourth quarter. The extra minutes that Phil got out of Andrew past the early 3rd quarter weren’t of much value to the team.

    I’m not that concerned about Bynum “resting” on some offensive sets as you describe. Odom has been doing even more of that for years. Kobe even does that some times in the first half. What has always been of more concern with Andrew is his speed at the transition game and his interest in rebounding–especially at the defensive end. Your analysis supports those concerns.

  15. Truly great superstars get mad at themselves and their teammates for not winning it all. Really good basketball players get mad at their teammates and coaches when they dont get their touches so they can’t get their next contract.

    I have a feeling Andrew will be a really good basketball player who won’t realize what he missed out on until the latter part of his career, when he joins a contender for less $ just to win a championship.

    He’ll look back and realize he could have done it early in his career if he had only wanted it more.

    I say this alot here over the years, but I’m tired of players with potential. More often than not, it turns out to be the potential to disappoint our lofty expectations.

  16. the other Stephen January 18, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    i ALWAYS see andrew merely jogging up the court, as if he’s going for a morning constitutional. it’s like he watched a tape of slow basketball big men, and got the idea that that’s how all big men are SUPPOSED to run.

  17. Very timely post, as debating Bynum’s play has become the most popular topic among Laker fans. I’ve had my suspicions but never took the time to focus on Bynum during a game, but these parts of your analysis confirmed what I always felt:

    “On defense, he doesn’t always block out a person…A lot of times, he relies on his height to cover up his lack of effort to establish position.”

    100% agree. I’ve often noticed that Bynum does not body or box out his opponents, but uses his length to corral rebounds.

    “That being said, he does not go after rebounds fiercely. He only grabs the ones that fall in his hands.”

    Exactly the problem Bynum’s critics have. A lack of skill is forgivable, but a lack of effort is not.

    I think nomuskles might have finally figured out the underlying reason for this lack of effort – it might not be that Drew doesn’t want to rebound, it’s more likely that he doesn’t have the conditioning to do so. He spent a lot of time bulking up, but not enough on cardio, it seems. He seems a lot slower moving around the court than he did last year.

    I also noticed in the Orlando game how well Bynum showed on PnRs and even baseline drives. His role is two-fold, 1) defend and 2) rebound. He’s halfway there, his help defense is strong and his individual D solid.

    I think this string of low-rebound games is a blessing in disguise. Bynum will hear the criticism, especially from Kareem and Phil, and this might result in the necessary fire – and we’ve all seen how he responds to criticism from others. I think he’ll be fine. Maybe Kobe should take another shot to edge him along.

  18. Lil Pau

    The reason it ends up being a pujit from fish or sasha while kobe and bynum are on the weak side is the design of the triangle offense…

    its about patience, if they continued to run the offense, the ball would eventually get rotated to Kobe, when Bynum would then be on the strong side with him, or would have rotated again to the weak side and thereby giving kobe the space for his midrange jumper, or to back down his opponent for a killer turnaround fadeaway.

    sometimes we dont show as much patience in the offense, especially if sasha is in the game or if fish is looking for his shot

  19. Great post nomuskles. There’s a lot of good insight into what’s going on with Bynum. The interesting thing to me is that we know that he’s a rebounder. We saw it last season and we’ve seen it in many games this season. I know, in the upcoming games, I’m going to be watching more closely to examine some other factors that could be playing into his decline in rebounding numbers. On too many levels it doesn’t make sense that his numbers would fall off the way that they have over the last several games.

  20. Great post. I’ve been watching Bynum closely after he complained about not getting time in the fourth and this pretty much confirms what I thought. Some observations:

    Offense:
    From what I’ve seen, Bynum has the most polished moves and complete offensive game of any young center. You can really see how much he’s improved in this aspect when you compare this year with last year. Last year he’d get virtually all his points on allyoops and touches right next to the rim. When he was given the ball in the midpost you can tell that he lacked confidence and he was still working out what worked and what didn’t. This year, he’ll get get the ball and you can almost see a switch turn on. He’ll start working his defender and make a nice move that often results in a good shot, given the position he started out with.

    Oddly enough, I think his development of midpost moves, including that mid-range jumper that he has now, has actually regressed his overall offensive game. Last year, the only thing he could really do was dunk the ball, so it seems to me that he spent much more effort establishing good position. This year, he seems to think that he can do his damage no matter where he’s at and consequently seems content with being pushed out and receiving the ball in the midpost. This is especially frustrating because if he just made the same effort to get good position that he did last year, he’d be a beast.

    Defense:
    I didn’t pay as much attention on Bynum’s game on the other end of the court but thought that it was pretty obvious that our defense was much better with Bynum in. That’s why I didn’t understand Phil’s comment that Bynum had to learn how to defend better before he got crunch time minutes. Now that nomuskles pointed out Bynum’s lack of conditioning, I can see some sort of justification. I did notice that Bynum wouldn’t box out on many possessions but I didn’t realize it was so bad before I read this post.

    Overall, I agree with the general feeling here that Bynum’s overall contribution to the team has regressed compared to him last year pre-injury. However, I’m alot more optimistic that the guy has it in him to turn a corner. I don’t think people remember just how raw Bynum was when he first entered the league. Even Kobe who spent his entire life working on his game and had a professional basketball player for a dad was making dumb mistakes in his first couple of years. As long as Bynum shows that he’s developing different parts of his game from year to year, I’m confident that he’ll put it all together.

  21. Worthy J.,
    Thanks for your concluding paragraph. I have spent a lot of time detailing just how raw Andrew really is – and why he needs Kareem so much. After this much time I too get frustrated that he seemingly hasn’t learned more about defense.

    This post has enlightened me about his defense and his greatest single deficiency – his conditioning. Get that right and all the rest becomes much easier.

    Now, about his being 21…well, only time will tell on that particular point.

  22. Drew will be fine . I say let him practice his offensive repertoire more in games so we can go to him in the post more later in the season. The desire part shouldn’t worry anyone he’ll show it in the playoffs when re games really matter

  23. I am not too worried about Andrew’s learning curve, after all he has not played one full season in the NBA. Played in what a mere 30 games last season (give or take a few) and has yet to play every opponent enough to know their nuances and subtleties. That my friends takes time!

    When asked why he is so effective this year as opposed to previous years, Jameer Nelson stated that, “he has faced his opponents enough times to know what he can do against them on offense and what he can expect from them on defense.”

    Craig W: (6)
    However, I too am worried that Kareem will be given a chance to coach, someday and that he will leave young Bynum to grow or blunder on his own.

    Remember when Kareem worked with Olowokandi aka “The Candy Man” during his finest years (what?), well lets say his more productive years. Until Kareem was let go due to legal matters and Olowokandi never could reclaim that measure of success. Even though he bated Minnesota into a long term contract with that success.

    On that note, I do worry about Andrew Bynum! Security (long contracts) does soften some peoples appetite and desire to work hard.

  24. it’s the kid’s first year after a big contract that came just after his first big injury. lack of ‘effort’ can still be tagged to tentativeness, as it also took a specimen like Amare a year to come back in full strength.

    also, he was thrown under the bus last year(by you know who), so i won’t be surprised if players around him are extra careful not to say something this year.

    anyway, it’s still pre-allstar break. maybe seeing Li Jianlian or even Sun Yue get more votes than him for the allstar game will give him some motivation.

  25. PeanutButterSpread January 19, 2009 at 12:34 am

    Maybe the Lakers should revert back to the old Pau as Center lineup from last year and have young Bynum as our backup center?

    I think right now, we’re having a lot of stagnant offense where we keep needing Kobe to bail us out contrary to last year when we had LO and Pau together, the chemistry was fluid (until the Finals) but really, it was a thing of beauty because LO and Pau would just find each other whenever they got the ball.

    Is it too hasty to want LO back in the starting lineup with Pau and move Drew to the bench?

    I am still convinced the Lakers should have beat the Magic BOTH times this season, especially since we were able to beat them last season in that crazy road trip without Drew.

    Which is probably why I’m a little more upset at this loss than I was at the San Antonio’s.

    Still, for all the praise for the Magic, I know come playoff time, they’re still not getting past the Celtics or the Cavs … maybe not even the Pistons.

  26. PeanutButterSpread January 19, 2009 at 12:38 am

    Maybe the best solution is to get Kobe or another Laker to film another leaked “ship his *ss outta here” video to light Bynum’s fire.

    It worked last year.

    I jest of course.

    But it did work.

    I’m just saying.

  27. The kid is 21, an age where you’re learning a lot more about life other than basketball. He’ll be fine.

  28. The idea that Bynum isn’t in great shape is kind of hard to comprehend; on the other hand, it seems to be something that still plagues Yao.

    I wonder if part of the reason Bynum doesn’t have that “I have to get every rebound” mode is that he was never on a team where he had to do that for the team to win. I’m sure the vast majority of NBA players have that experience (and have the opposite problem of having to learn not to try to do everything).

  29. Why’s everyone bashing Kareem? A little respect for the leading scorer in NBA history, please.

  30. Number 24, harold made an intriguing point. After an injury like Bynum’s players become much more tentative in their style of play. Its partly psychological, the fear of another injury. So they dont jump as high, cut as hard, or fight as vehemently because to them, and understandably, that one rebound, basket, or steal, is not worth the injury it could cost them.
    Hopefully Bynum regains his confidence soon, but it wouldn’t be fair to blame his deteriorated play simply on a lack of effort.

  31. Guys,

    Drew will be fine. Remember that he is still young and that as a big man, the ball must be given to him. Most of our players are guards and wings who can move out and make their own shots. I was at the San Antonio game and I was immensely happy with the superb defense that Bynum played against Duncan. Duncan only had a few of his baskets down low. Bynum had great position on him and forced Timmy to shoot the jumper or the bank-shot. True, Bynum could have rebounded better, but he did have a few blocks and altered at least four shots in the lane (by my count). Also, remember that with so many other mouths to feed on the offensive end, Drew is not even the 3rd option with the starting crew, with Kobe, Pau and Fish getting many of these looks. Bynum will rise up when needed and help us win the title.

  32. I am not too concerned about this losing streak even if it continues against the Cavs tonight. The Lakers have been without four bench players off and on for the last few weeks. Also, Pau has been off for the last several games. Add to that your typical midseason doldrums and you have our current predicament.

    But what gives me hope is that the Lakers have been competitive in each of their matches and they have had a chance to win each of the last two games. And another thing I like: the Lakers haven’t lost a game by more than 12 points. They have remained competitive all year. No blow out losses.

  33. I think in fairness, his two main issues (fitness and fierceness) are fairly easily explained, and will improve with time.

    1) Fitness. Recovering from the injury he had, and all the time off he took, simply takes time. He is not getting back “into shape”. He is getting back into top NBA shape. It will simply take time. Probably all of this season, and the off season.

    2) Fierceness. Early this season Andrew was much more fierce on the boards and box outs. He paid the price in quick fouls, and lots of bench time. (His fitness did not help, as being tired does contribute to fouling.) I think he is trying to find the balance between being aggressive, and being smart. At the moment, he is too smart.

    All that said, he is a very young player, and what we are all having trouble with is his flashes of brilliance. We can all see what he can become, and has been for a game here and there, and we want him to grow up and be at his peak now! Simply won’t happen for a season or two, and we can only hope his peak is a nice 5-6 season run from 24-29 or so…

  34. If I were Phil, I would be using Bynum in bursts.

    Andrew has said he wants to be in at the end of games. Challenge him to earn it.

    Let Andrew know, in no uncertain terms, that his playtime will be 7-8 minutes a quarter for the first 3 quarters. If at the end of the 3rd he has 10 points-10 boards-1 block then he gets end game time. Effort and results are rewarded.

    Allow him the freedom of clear goals, in a clearly defined time, and as the coach dictate how he paces himself.

    Isn’t that the job of the coach?

  35. Great post! I appreciate the insight, which confirms what most of us expect. Drew is lazy when rebouding. There is no excuse for Kobe have 11 rebounds and Drew under 10. I know he will grow into the role, but unlike scoring, defense or even passing, rebounding is about desire. If Rodman can get 17 a game and do nothing else, Drew can get 10 a game and still score 10 points. My big concern is his comments lately about going back at the other guys and scoring. I feel like he is losing focus on playing D and rebounding and thinking his scoring will compensate.

  36. I commend you for this thorough analysis…someone needs to call him out a bit.

    Hey the truth is the kid needs to start stepping up and show some improvement…

    Simple Hustle and Effort would be a great start (rebounding!)

    And who knows, this kind of scrutiny may possibly help him to gain some more focus (human nature!)

    Tonight he played better against Cleveland (no inside presence), now he needs to start playing up to par against teams with interior size…

  37. Finally got around to reading this, and that was an incredible post!

    I have been paying more attention to Bynum recently (and no one can pay more attention than you did in that Magic game), and I have noticed Bynum showing off a plethora of post moves. Especially in that Cleveland game – last year Bynum would get 14 points on lobs and putbacks, but on this night it was almost all post offense. I have noticed he is doing that more this year than last year. So while I would like to see more hustle and effort in rebounding (especially battling for position), Bynum now has as impressive a post game as any 21 year old in the league.

  38. I believe Drew is getting the ECS…Eddy Curry Syndrome.

    After realizing that he’s at a point where he is good enough to have set minutes (~30min) score points consistently (~9.5 fga), his desire to rebound diminishes inversely to his desire for baskets…

    Maybe we undervalued Turiaf’s energy and how that may have initially rubbed off to Drew last year.

    I would also consider the lack of bench competition as a possible source of Drew’s lack of energy/effort. It could be like how having Crittenton may have pushed Farmer during for half a year; Mihm doesn’t cause Drew to fear losing minutes.