The Black Hole?

Darius Soriano —  December 13, 2009

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Examining Andrew Bynum’s post play is a task with several layers to it. On one hand you have a highly efficient post player whose ability to score on the low block is a highly coveted trait that any team would love to have. On the other hand, you have a team that runs a read and react offensive system where passing to (and from) the post is one of the main (and most effective) ways to initiate and create offense for other players because the post entry dictates a myriad of cuts and screens off the ball designed to get those players good shots. So, evaluating Bynum on the low block can be a bit tricky. As Bynum’s touches in the post have increased, he’s become more of a focal point in our offense. However, with that focus there is also the question of how he can be most effective when he has the ball and how he can most help the team.

First, let’s explore Andrew Bynum’s post game and how effective he truly is at scoring the ball. As you can see from the statistics, Andrew Bynum is a traditional (and quite effective) low post player. He takes 50% of his shots right at the rim with 86% of his shots coming from within ten feet of the basket. He is shooting 57% from the field with a TS% of 61.3%. Bynum, by any statistical measure, is showing an offensive potency that only a handful of other post players currently are. Plus, he’s getting more refined and is showing a smoothness and polish with a diverse attack. He has shown the ability post up on either low block, finish with both hands on his jump hook, and has exhibited a variety of counter moves where he use his defender’s aggression against him to create any easy opportunity to finish. He’s developed a very nice face up game where (if given space) he can shoot his developing jumpshot or (if crowded) can power dribble to either hand to explode and finish at the rim. He’s showing better footwork and a greater ability to feint moves to get opponents off balance and throw off their timing so he can make his finishing move that much easier. When it comes to offensive basketball, the guy is a beast.

However, that ability to score effectively is really all Bynum is accomplishing when he has the ball in the post. Bynum averages 1.3 assists per game. His assist rate (% of possesions ending with an assist) is a paltry 7.5. Among Centers that play 25 minutes or more a night, that assist rate ranks Bynum 19th and places him right below Brook Lopez and Dwight Howard and right above Chris Kaman – not bad company as far as scorers go, but not really a great group of passing big men either. However, that 7.5 assist rate is quite poor when compared to other Centers on this list like Tim Duncan (15.93) and Marc Gasol (14.77). And Bynum’s rate is horrific when compared to teammate Pau Gasol (20.2, though listed as a PF). (On a side note, the player that leads the league in assist rate for PF’s that play 25+ minutes? Lamar Odom at 28.49)

And that comparison to Pau is the one that matters the most to Lakers fans and also what has earned ‘Drew the nickname of The Black Hole. As we all know, the Lakers run the Triangle offense. And as I stated earlier, this is a read and react system where motions, cuts, and screens off the ball lead to player movement. Then we expect to see the ball handler reading the option(s) in front of him and make the correct reads that lead to getting a high percentage shot. Obviously, like every other team, the Lakers have go to players that become the focal point of the offense. So, the Lakers are going to feature Kobe and Pau (and Bynum). But because this is an equal opportunity offense, even when those players are featured we want to see them to operate within the flow of the offense and execute all its options. This is explemplified by how Pau operates within the Triangle as he is the best player at evaluating all the options of the offense after he gets the ball in his hands. And when looking at how Pau contributes to this offense by both scoring and passing, we wonder why Bynum is not doing the same things. What is Pau doing that Bynum is not? The obvious answer is passing. But the truth is a bit more hidden than that.

The thing is, that even though Pau and Bynum are similar players within this offense, they are very different in terms of style. Yes, they both score on the low block. Yes, they both show a capable jumpshot. Yes, they both have a diversity of moves that make them effective offensive threats from multiple places on the floor. (It should be noted that Pau is better at all of these things, but Bynum is close to his level in all these aspects.) However, they operate much differently within these similar skill sets. Essentially, Pau is a more paitient player that likes to read the defense. Many times when Pau makes a catch, he likes to hold the ball. When he faces up, he loves to jab step and analyze what his next move will be. When he has his back to the basket, he’ll consistently look around the court to see what the defense is doing and then make a read as to what to do next (pass to a cutter, pass back out and re-post, shoot, etc). He wants to know “Is the double team coming? Where are the cutters moving from? How is my man playing me?” and then react with the appropriate move. But Drew is a different player.

When Bynum makes a catch, he’s thinking one thing – Where is my opening? He’s decisive and goes fast. Rarely does he wait. Rarely does he hold the ball (unless he’s waiting for the side to clear). He’s the type of player that has confidence and an understanding that can’t be stopped on a cosistent basis when he’s guarded one on one. So, as far as he’s concerned, Bynum knows that all he has to do is catch the ball and make a move and it’s likely that he’s either going to score or get fouled. And honestly, this is a good approach. When you teach a young big man to play post offense, there are certain concepts that you stress. Fundamental ideas like keeping the ball high, keeping a solid base, and using your defender’s leverage against him. But, you’re also stressing to be decisive. Often times, when on the low block, waiting can get you in trouble. Big men are notoriously slow developers when it comes to passing and reading defenses. Unlike guards who operate from the wing and have the defense in front of them the majority of the time, post players often find themselves in the eye of the storm. The ball goes into the post and that player is surrounded. He’s got a guard digging down. He’s got the player defending him on this back. He’s got the potential of a double team from the weakside middle. He’s got the potential for a double team from the weakside baseline. And those are only the defensive concerns that a post player is analyzing (and only some of them, to boot). But reading the defense is only one factor because after a post player makes the catch he’s also got to be concerned with where his teammates are – Where is my skip man? Is there someone diving? Is the post entry passer stationary or sliding? Is he sliding towards the top of the key or to the baseline? That is a lot of information to take in. So, you teach them to be decisive and to make their move when they see the opening. And that is what Bynum is doing.

And at this point in his career, it’s likely his best approach. Understand that by going quickly and decisively, Bynum elimates many of the defensive strategies that are used against post players. Many times Bynum’s move comes before a double team can be established. He’s already executing his move when guards try to dig down on him or when players try to come from the weakside to double team. Also, because of his counter moves, there are times when those late double teams don’t even come to side where Bynum is executing his shot. Going quickly also elimates some of the openings that are byproducts of our offense. Bynum rarely hits the dive man from the weakside because he’s already going into his move which then makes the cut of his teammate is inconsquential. Going quickly also means that you’re less likely to see Andrew kick the ball back out or skip the ball to the opposite corner (other staples of our offense) because the defense hasn’t dicated that pass nor have our offensive players actually established those positions on the court.

In the end, I think we all agree that Bynum is not using all aspects of our offense. And I too would like to see him pass more and utilize his teammates better. I think one of the reasons that our offense is not as efficient this season as it was last season is because Bynum has taken on a greater role within the offense and he’s not executing ther finer details with as much precision as Gasol/Odom. That said, Bynum is still young and still learning. As he continues to establish himself as an offensive force, the double teams will come faster and force him to pass more. As he gains experience he’ll read defenses better, understand what the opposition’s strategy is against him, and become more patient. But it all comes in stages. Our young Center is learning and getting better each season. The passing will come as his development and maturation continues. And if it doesn’t, then the monicker will stick. But, I think those skills will improve and we’ll all look back at the times that Bynum was single covered and not passing (because he was scoring so easily) as the good old days.

-Darius

Darius Soriano

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63 responses to The Black Hole?

  1. usually i would say that Phil should make an example of bynum and bench him everytime he does not read the defense properly and look at passing but i think Jackson has said before that bynum is still imature and needs to be coddled and the coaching staff take the softly softly approach to him. Maybe once Bynum gets his first all-star team, he will start playing team ball

  2. In Bynum’s defense, IIRC, I haven’t seen too many players cutting to the basket or moving to open spots on the perimeter.

    In contrast, Pau has the benefit of Odom playing out on the perimeter, making that post-entry pass, and diving to the hoop. When Bynum’s on the block, Pau is usually stationary on the opposite block.

  3. Darius has developed such a well-thought, descriptive, rigorous treatment of the nickname which I bestowed on Andrew Bynum, full of eloquent analysis which I could not hope to achieve.

    I could not be more happy.

    I think I’ll keep calling him The Black Hole even when he finally learns how to pass; it’s just too catchy.

  4. First of all, great article. I agree with the Bynum and Gasol comparison 100%. Pau is a more peripheral player and Andrew is one track minded. I can empathize with Bynum though because the inside dish often takes too long to execute and when he finally gets the rock he has about 5 seconds to react. #17 is definitely maturing as you said Darius and I am hopeful that Andrew’s inner Olajuwon will come out soon!

  5. He should aspire to be the black hole, drawing the opponent’s defense too when he gets the ball.

    I think it’ll come to him. Sooner or later, opponents will react quickly and double him as he gets the ball, and he’ll have to give the ball up even if his instinct is to score, and it can go from there.

    But I can see Pau’s frustration here. He’s definately our 2nd best (and now that Kobe’s injured, I’d say our best) option on offense, but he doesn’t get the touches that Bynum or Kobe gets.

    And again, I say the burden falls on Kobe here. He can lead by example, passing to Pau and Bynum, and Bynum will learn.

    Bynum is at the stage where he has to make a name for himself, if only to get the respect from the refs so that he can stay in the game, so it’s a bit unfair to ask him to be like Pau all of a sudden.

    Also, I think people forget that Pau is not a player that anyone can become. We take him for granted, just the way we take Kobe for granted, and think a bit of hard work can turn anyone into a semi-Kobe or a semi-Pau.

    Oh, and awesome post. You put more effort in that post than I do when writing term papers.

  6. This just got me curious as what the assist rate was for Shaq while he was on the Lakers running the triangle as compared to Pau and The Black Hole, and I am too lazy to go searching right to figure it out so was wondering if somebody else could do that for me?

  7. Substitute “Bynum” for “Kobe” and “Wing” for “Post” and suddenly its 2006.

    In Bynum’s defense
    1) Phil is probably telling him to be aggressive on offense. The laker’s need his early scoring.. especially while Pau was down. Plus.. why pass out of the double when your wings are shooting 20% from 3? His FT shooting is pretty decent (vs say dwight or shaq) so even drawing fouls from the double team he’s generating efficient offense.

    2) He’s made some effort to read the offense more the past 3 games.. Saw a couple of good passes out of the post or across the lane to the corner shooter in the Utah games.

    I’d be more worried about his passiveness on the boards.. When he’s having a good game offensively he’s great on both ends.. but when the lakers stop involving him on offense he tends to sulk and just stand around.. He needs to give a much more consistent effort on the boards.. Offense will come and go but defense wins..

  8. I think we need to remember that Bynum has not played that many years of organized ball.

    The ability to read and react to defenses and recognize passing angles is partially natural talent and partially years of experience playing in a structured system.

    Yes, Pau Gasol is better than Bynum. But Pau has been playing professionally for 14 years. Bynum has been playing about 6 years of High School and pro ball *combined*.

    Given how Bynum has shown the ability to learn, develop, and adapt, I think he’ll become a better passer as his career continues.

    Right now, I’m more concerned with his lack of rebounding and the many nights when he doesn’t block a single shot.

  9. Pau,
    All we have to do is look back at Pau’s days in Memphis to see that he is not the answer to the dominant go-to player. Andrew is in the process of becoming that person as Kobe ages. That is a fundamental difference between the two of them.

    Pau is what we always wanted from Lamar, only better. Lamar is his unique self.

    I never cease to be amazed at how impatient fans are. Andrew was drafted as a future project – at the center position, no less. He is coming along beautifully, but he still has a ways to go to reach his full potential. The light is not going to come on at a particular time – he will develop over time.

    Darius put it very well and our impatience will not change his development one whit.

  10. Zach, to answer your question: The three-pete years, Shaq’s assists rates were 19.3, 18.8 and 16.4. Not coincidentally, those three were the highest assist rates of his career, although he stayed above 16 through his stay in Los Angeles. Shaq, when he wants to be, is a pretty adept passer and can play smart basketball. For comparison, his assist rate was 12.4 his title year in Miami, and 10.8 so far this season.

  11. Darius, that is a great article about “The Black Hole”, also about centers in particular and how they need to think and react, depending on what is happening at the time. You sound like a basketball coach talking every single time I read your writings. I will proudly address Bynum as TBH, as a very good thing. I will take a 57% FG average any day. He is a decent FT shooter as well for a 7 footer, heck, he is better than some guards on our team. It is probably an advantage for him to go to the rim and shoot as soon as he gets the ball anyway. Most important, he is back to where he was before the injuries, if not better.

  12. I just don’t agree that Bynum is shooting when he should be passing. That is a black hole. The last few games he has been passing more than shooting because he is constantly being doubled. Furthermore I feel his passing is very good. I guess I just don’t agree with very much of the post.

  13. I definitely agree that Bynum can find a better balance between hoisting up shots and passing out of the post to catalyze our offense. I just think that more often than not his passes out of the post end up in Fisher or Artest’s hand when they are semi-open and can’t really get off a good shot or create for themselves. I think Bynum has reached a level where I am comfortable with him taking shots in one-on-one situations, so long as he has worked to get himself in good position to take – its his rushed shots off early post entries, bad positioning, hoisting up w/ inadequate spacing, or jumpers that I think can be reduced. I also believe Pau’s post touches should come at the expense of Fish taking long two pointers or Artest on the block, not Kobe or Bynum.

  14. I’ve noticed this with Bynum’s game and ask myself, why not kick it out or a pump fake
    layup to the bio. That said, his game has continued to grow and AB continues to get stronger. Pau’s lighthouse looks and AB’s quick post play make for a nice offensive contrast. Great read.

  15. Very good post. For anyone that thinks Bynum should be benched, consider this: we are so much more efficient this year on defense (3rd in the NBA at defensive efficiency, I believe?). Bynum and Artest has given our defense a much different look this year; one can simply look at all the shots Bynum is altering (and actually blocking on occasion) to see how he is contributing. The offense will come to Andrew as he develops. Also, our offensive efficiency (which has us around 12th in the NBA) did not take into account that Gasol had been out for so long. Look at the offensive efficiency in the games Pau and Andrew have been in (can someone look this up?), and we’re probably close to where we were last year.

  16. the other Stephen December 14, 2009 at 1:32 am

    this is true.
    taking the time to hold the ball and survey passing options instead of immediately backing down into the post is one of the first things i learned from watching pau. and it never seems to hurt.

  17. Craig, if we look back to Pau days in Memphis he went to playoffs in years 3-5 of 6 years stay there (got hurt before the final season started and comeback after the team decided to tank for the Oden/Durant lottery). So far, so good, but his best teammates during the whole period were Mike Miller, Shane Battier, James Posey and Jason Williams. Somehow he took those guys to 50 wins in a loaded conference. Anyone that gets 50 Ws out of those guys has the chops to be a dominant go to guy. I’m not saying Lakers should build around him, Bynum is clearly the team’s future and he will develop to a great big man to build around, but right now if Kobe is struggling due to healthy problems, I’d rather turn to Pau.

  18. The fact that he’s this good offensively and still has SOOO much more to improve on at the age of 22 has me giddy for the future.

  19. Great article, I was getting annoyed with all the flak that Bynum’s been getting because of this. At 57% FG shooting and mid-70ish% FT shooting, I don’t exactly see how/why Bynum got this name. The guy knows that he has an advantage over most players either with his height, size, and/or skill, and I’m glad that he’s using his advantages. Like someone pointed out earlier, I don’t see too many people diving while Bynum’s in the post or facing up, which is how our other 2 big men get a percentage of their assists. If he continued to get trapped in double teams and turn the ball over like Dwight Howard in last year’s finals, then I would think a name like “black hole” would be fitting. But I don’t see that from Bynum so far, and when the double comes, he passes it out, which can be the pass leading right into the assist, something that we’re not taking into account.

    If anything, it should be his rebounding that we should be focusing on. I would rather see around 12-15 rebounds each from Gasol and Bynum instead of Gasol grabbing 20 boards with Bynum not even reaching double-digits.

  20. Assist rate isn’t really the percentage of a player’s possessions that end in an assist. At least, not the way I’m reading the definition on b-r.com

    Assist Percentage (available since the 1964-65 season in the NBA); the formula is 100 * AST / (((MP / (Tm MP / 5)) * Tm FG) – FG). Assist percentage is an estimate of the percentage of teammate field goals a player assisted while he was on on the floor.

  21. Good post and good point.

    Bynum´s monicker The Black Hole is becomming two sided:
    1- Passing him the ball is finding the last destination of that possesion.
    2 – Bynum with the ball, is a decisive, beast of a got getter – a force so strong, it overpowers everything in its vicinity.

    Expecting huge improvements in Bynum´s passing game this season might be pushing it. But at the same time Pau has a point when complaining about his number of possesions.

    Solution might not be changing what happens after Bynum catches the ball – let that situation be live by TBH/die with TBH… but just don´t go that way as often. Let Pau be the main facilitator, let Bynum work the boards to get some of his shots.

  22. In my opinion, going to Bynum early and often at this point in the season is a good coaching move by Phil. Bynum is the difference maker on this team. The guy that can take us from good to great. The more touches he gets, the more he’ll figure out how to operate efficiently in the offense and it will pay dividends in the playoffs. He probably won’t get as many touches in April/June, but he’ll be more efficient and confident when Pau is on the bench and we need to go to the post through him.

  23. #20. Simon,
    Thank you for the clarification. And the formula that was used to calculate Assist Rate (courtesey of HoopData) is:

    (Assists x 100)/(FGA + [FTA * 0.44] + Turnovers)

  24. When I watch Andrew Bynum I always remember the guy is 22 years old. He cannot be compared to Shaq during the 3-peat years. Granted, I know the topic was assists. But Shaq was 28, 29, and 30. At Drew’s current pace what do you think he will look at 28? What was Shaq’s assist numbers at 22? We need to make sure we keep all this in perspective.

  25. Also, RE Pau wanting more touches: I’ve maintained for a while now that Bynum’s and Pau’s stats usually come at the expense of eachother. As I mentioned in the post, they really are similar players as far as skill sets are concerned (they just play different styles and attack under different premises) and their roles in the offense (primary post up players) are also similar. So, unless we change our approach and decide to feature one player over the other, I think this is going to be an ongoing issue for Pau. And, in case you were wondering, I’m in favor of having Pau be featured over Andrew. Not that I want to start some sort of beef between the two players (I am that powerful, BTW), but I think it’s clear that Pau is the better player and we’ve won a ring with him being the clear #2 for us. If I could divvy up the shots in a “fair” manner, I’d have Kobe in the 17-20 range, Pau in the 15-18 range, Bynum in the 10-12 range, and Ron/Fish/LO in the 6-10 range (depending on matchups, who has it going that night, etc). That may not be realistic, but it’s what I’d like to see for a variety of reasons that I won’t get into right now.

  26. I agree with ZT (no 19), I think the bigger issue with Bynum is not his blackhole tendencies but rather his rebounding effort. It definitely seems like Andrew has been passing out a bit more as of late, but at the same time his rebounding effort has been dropping. Over the last 5 games he has averaged 6 rebounds in 30 minutes of playing time. Over a full game that comes out to a 9.6 rebounds per 48 rate, which would be good for 78th in the league.

    His numbers look even worse when you compare them to Gasols. Pau pulled down 20 boards in 43 minutes, while Andrew pulled down 4 in 31 in Utah on Saturday. 16 more boards in only 12 more minutes. The night before at home? Pau – 20 boards in 38 minutes, Bynum – 8 in 24; so again, Pau had 12 more boards in only 14 more minutes. Lets not forget that they are the same height, while Bynum outweighs him by 35 pounds and is 7 years younger (according to espn).

    It seems to all come down to effort to me, even just watching the games and neglecting the numbers. Andrew has quite the repertoire when it comes to post moves, but doesn’t seem to have much interest in one of the most fundamental fundamentals – boxing out. I love the guy, but we should be way more dominating on the glass when we start two of the most skilled 7 footers in the game

  27. On a related note, good to see Pau demanding the ball a little more. I wouldn’t mind him switching roles with Bynum for a bit and being a blackhole for these next few games as Kobe mends his finger.

    http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-lakers-fyi13-2009dec13,0,3944737.story

  28. But doesn’t he make a pass to the basket 90% of the time? Granted he only connects 57% of the time, but that’s downright machinistic relatively speaking.

    Seriously, I’m happy with Bynum’s development. He is taking a little more time with his shots as opposed to rushing it like he’s afraid somebody will rip the ball out of his hands, the ref will call 3sec on him, or heaven forbids the double team will come or someone will make a cut and he’ll have to give it up.

    I do wish he worked harder on the board and had a more positive Divac-like attitude but well he is who he is.

  29. It isn’t very good timing for this article, Andrew will be more of a focus for offensive scoring if Kobe can’t shoot the ball properly.

    Also, its like complaining that a great three point shooter is always looking to shoot – that’s what is valuab;e about what he does. The same with Andrew’s inside scoring, you throw the ball in there because he can score. His passing will improve as he understands double teams better and learns to anticipate more.

    His rebounding is a problem though. On offense he hardly ever looks to fight for position in an opening, he is too often content to be blocked out and try to reach over his shorter opponents.

    He needs that mentality of becomming a force in the paint in all respects. He has to look to dominate the paint, this is something Gasol can’t do.

  30. Point made by Brian Kamenetzky at the LA Times about this post: “As we’ve pointed out (in reference to Bynum, but it applies to Gasol) for LA’s system to work, guys down low have to believe they’ll get the ball back if they kick it out. Sometimes, they have a right to be skeptical.”

    http://lakersblog.latimes.com/lakersblog/2009/12/lakers-links-hot-and-sizzlin.html

  31. 22) Travis,
    I disagree that Bynum is the “difference maker” (i.e. what pushed them up into the true contender category) on this team. I think that pretty clearly is Pau. I think Bynum COULD be that level of player, and hopefully will be. But at this point the Lakers would be hurt more if Pau was unavailable than if Bynum was unavailable.

  32. Anyone else catch Trevor’s swing-of-an-elbow-out-of-frustration vs Raptors? Who would’ve thought that he’d be the first one to lose his cool in a game before Ron did.. I’m just sayin’!

  33. I feel for Trevor, he is having a frustrating season, and he was brought in there with a lot of hype on a team that was just not going to be THAT good (that they are doing as well as they are is impressive). Not that it excuses the swing, it doesn’t. But what has Artest got to be frustrated about — he knew coming in his touches would go down. Ariza is in a tough spot.

  34. 32) exhelodrvr,

    I disagree with you as far as Bynum not being a difference maker. When we went to the finals with Boston we had everyone healthy except for Bynum and Ariza. Ariza played but you could tell that he wasn’t anywhere near healthy. Bynum not only puts us into an elite dynasty status in the NBA, but HE IS ONLY 22 YEARS OLD. Nobody should complain about this kid because he is the future of purple and gold once Kobe and Pau fade away. He is not just some lumbering 7 footer. For the ripe old age of 22 he has a beautiful game–its not fully developed but you can see the enormous talent. Decent jump shot, good moves in the post, and a decent FT shooter.

    PS-I love D-Fish but I think that Shannon Brown should get way more minutes and I would actually consider starting him–I’m telling you he is a hidden talent and will run the triangle to perfection with some experience.

  35. 32) agreed. what I’m trying to say is that given the upgrades the other contenders have made, Drew is the guy that will keep us as the clear cut #1. as Kurt puts it, he makes us the team with the largest margin for error.

    in the meantime, I think he’s getting the high number of touches right now because Phil knows its early in the season and we’ll be better off long-term if Drew is used to the pressures of being the focal point of the offense. In the playoffs we’ll probably go to Pau much more often, but there will be times when Drew will need to perform efficiently as the focal point ie. if Pau is on the bench.

  36. Regarding rebounding:

    I wonder if that is where the lingering mental effects of the knee injuries come in to play. Basically Andrew doesn’t like jumping very high in a crowd of people.

    Plus, at times he does seem to get a little timid around the rim defensively. I think that may be out of fear of picking up ticky tack fouls that take him off the floor.

    This is not to make an excuse. It’s just an attempt to look at the big picture. Also, with Pau Gasol, Ron Artest, and then Lamar Odom coming off the bench we cannot expect everyone to get double digit rebounds every night. Pau’s 20 rebounds are impressive. But he averages about 9 a game. So if he is 11 above his average someone else is likely coming up short. The last couple of games it’s been Drew. You’d like to be someone else. But when the two of them are both playing so close to the rim they are bound to take boards from one another. Keep in mind the Lakers did out rebound Utah as a team 42-35 in that last game.

  37. really interesting post and great responses. but i wonder if this might be a case where statistics don’t tell the whole story. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems to me that for the most part this season, we haven’t been facing teams with dominant centers, teams haven’t been doubling bynum (with kobe and pau, who would?), and bynum has been working really hard at getting the ball deep. so, you’ve got a dominant 7-footer getting the ball at the front of the basket in single coverage … why pass?
    And personally, i HATE the nickname “The Black Hole” because that was what I called Kwame Brown.

  38. 36) Travis,
    I agree – a healthy Bynum gives this roster the potential for “all time greatest.”

    Of course, they would have to stay focused for that; not sure if they can.

  39. I saw the following headline at MSNBC and I nearly fell off my chair:

    “Injured Bynum Questionable for Tuesday’s Game.”

    Naturally, I cliked on the link (see below)…. and then I realized they were talking about Will Bynum.

    WHEW! Black Hole or not, I love our chances with young Drew.

    http://nbcsports.msnbc.com/id/34418875/ns/sports-player_news/

  40. Food guy, not sure Kwame really was a black hole. Balls thrown to him in the post did come out — usually out of bounds, but they did come out.

  41. All I’m really trying to say WRT Bynum is that I agree with how many touches he is getting in comparison to Pau. To maximize our potential, we need Drew to be comfortable when defenses start to key in on him, and the only way to get there is by going to him a lot. There will be bumps along the way given Drews lack of experience and feel as compared to Pau, but it will make us better in the long run.

  42. Back in the day I had a quarter season package with the Clips. Lets just say, I could afford those10 games with the 2 Lakers tickets in the package, much more then just getting those same seats for two Lakers home games. I remember very distinctly thinking that Lamar was a Black Hole on those Clipper teams, so considering LO’s current numbers, that could bode well for young Drew.

    Regarding his rebounding, Simmons was talking about Moses Malone’s rebounding method and it made me think of guys like Chuck and Rodman, great rebounders that I remember watching. According to Simmons, Malone would see a shot go up and coming from the endzone, he would push his ass into the scrum, get position and just box his competitors out. Chuck could jump but he also had great anticipation of where the ball would rebound. Rodman, man, that guy was a freak with his length and ability to pogo-stick to the ball. He just tipped the ball until he was the only one that could wrap his hands around it. All in all, all three exemplified a sense of rebounding premonition and desire. I don’t think Drew should be leaping high like Chuck but if he had some combination of Malone’s use of his mass and strength and Rodman’s use of his length, I think Drew could give us what Gerald Wallace gives his team. But, then Drew might be tempted to knock himself unconscious.

    How much of Pau’s 20 Reb performance was created by folk concentrating on keeping Drew away from the ball?

  43. Kurt,
    Could you put up a synopsis of the NY Times article (#27). They won’t let you on there unless you are a member of their website.

  44. lakersfansincemagic December 14, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    The important thing we see is that he’s developing and I think he’ll continue to develop at a reasonable pace.

    I just hope Kareem is a good teacher because he’s a known antisocial and I don’t know if he knows how to build a connection with Bynum to teach effectively.

    As long as Bynum keeps developing, he’s my #3 guy on the team.

    Who are your top 6 players on Lakers? Mine is:
    1. kobe
    2. pau
    3. bynum
    4. artest
    5. odom
    6. fisher

  45. The top 6 question is hard, thinking about it:
    1) Kobe
    2) Fish
    3 or 4) Odom/Pau
    5) Artest
    6) Bynum

  46. Personally, I always referred to Kwame Brown as “The Human Turnover”.

    I think T. Rogers is on to something about lingering mental effects of rebounding. Bynum has been in the NBA four years now (I think), and has already had to deal with two season-ending injuries, one for each knee. Though he obviously has a fire and toughness in him that never really had a chance to develop fully, thanks to those injuries again, it’s inevitable that somewhere the injuries have affected him. Andrew is young after all, and his subconscious is still very vocal and active. He’s simply scared of getting injured again, and I can’t say I blame him.

    That all aside, I enjoyed reading this article (thanks Darius!) and I agree with those who have said that I have a hard time finding fault with a 7-footer who shoots the ball if he finds himself alone with it under the basket, or alone against a single defender. I do wish that even the thought of passing would go through his head, and I wish he would try for more rebounds. At the same time, I can understand why his past two injuries may make him a little reluctant to get into the middle of a crowd and jump high… he might have someone land on his leg again.

  47. Craig W

    This link took me direct to the article without membership:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/14/sports/basketball/14triangle.html

    Synopsis:
    Rambis + Cleamons: Triangle good.
    Flynn: Triangle hard, wants to pick and roll.

    I hope Jonathan Abrams continues with these NBA trends/offensive structure pieces, they’ve been great.

  48. You will all remember that for the first 5 years of his career, Tim Duncan’s achilles heel was his inability to pass out of double teams. This deficiency was exploited by Phil’s first 3-peat team – who threw the blind-side double team at Duncan, creating turnovers. Duncan learned how to pass out and the around-the-horn corner 3 generated by a kick-out from Duncan became the staple of the Spurs’ attack.

    Bynum handles the double team at his age better then Duncan did. With his excellent hands and touch, I fully expect him to master this skill. To become a master at passing out of doubles, you first have to become good enough to encounter it.

    It is to his credit that the league has started to double him this year. The big question is: when Andrew kicks the ball out, will the Lakers bury the corner 3?

    They are shooting 36% . The spurs shoot 42% – which is low for them.

  49. @Bill,
    So when Andrew learns how to pass out of the post he’ll become the next Tim Duncan?

    I can live with that.

  50. The thing that didn’t get mentioned here is Bynum’s propensity to leak out after missed shots in order to get early position on offense. Obviously, this has to be affected his rebounding numbers.

    there’s no mistaking the seeming lack of desire to grab rebounds, even offensive ones. Gasol has responded to less than desirable touches by rebounding the ball – especially on the offensive end – like a madman… perhaps the Lakers should look at doing something similar with Bynum?

  51. Oy, comparing Bynum to Kwame “Butterfinger” Brown is cruel and wrong on so many levels, including the fact that they are good friends.

    I am not sure if it’s just me overreacting, but I sense a semi Shaq-Kobe-PJ thing coming up between Kobe-Pau-PJ.

    Surely part of it has to do with his immense talent (some players aren’t simply deserving of such ribbing), as Kobe shows quite a bit of competitiveness towards Pau that we really haven’t seen since Shaq left, but maybe it has to do with Phil doing his old gig of catering to the best player on the team and kind of squashing the 2nd best.

    Although Bynum surely is the young and rising star, it’s not like Gasol is ancient – his best years will more or less overlap with Bynum’s, and although Gasol is already quite polished, it’s not like we can ignore him and think he’ll be happy.

    At worst he’ll be the young Kobe, most likely he’ll just be like Shawn Marion, disgruntled but staying until, well, the system keeps working.

    Maybe i’m just looking too deep into this, but I’m definitely not comfortable with how Pau is being used…

  52. #47. Mimsy, I thought everyone referred to Kwame as “boooooo” as that’s all we ever seemed to hear when he was incorporated into the flow.

    #49. I agree with Bill Bridges in that first you need to command a double, then you can prove how to deal with it.

    #43. P. Ami, there are two major factors that I think can make a rebounder great: 1). Effort 2). Feel. And when you talk about the greatest rebounders ever, I think they had both – like Rodman for example. The story that I thought always made me admire Rodman’s rebounding acumen was how he’d shag balls for Jordan and Pippen before practice and games to get a feel for how they shot and where their potential misses would go. He studied rebounding like other great players study opposing defenses or offensive systems.

    But getting back to Bynum, I’m not sure if he’ll ever have the “feel” of a great rebounder ala Rodman or Sir Charles. Those guys just had a knack for knowing where the ball was going to go after it left the shooter’s hand. But, I do think Andrew can be a better “effort” rebounder and chase balls that are not in his area ala Howard, KG and Odom. Andrew’s already a good rebounder just using his length and size, but he could be a great rebounder if he chased down more rebounds or was more active in general when a shot goes up.

  53. Having read what everyone wrote I think I have to agree with everyone. Really good stuff. Just wanted to add this because it isn’t getting mentioned enough, but Bynum is 22 years old with a big contract. From my understanding he feels like he needs to earn it so people don’t think of him as a bust (I can remember a lot of people saying they should have traded him and his big contract over the summer). I think people make the biggest deal over scoring so he feels like he is proving to the fans he is worth the money when he scores big. Let’s be honest, if he scores 20 points it is a bigger deal to most fans (especially casual fans which make up most of the people and most of the people that probably talk to Bynum) than it is if he scores 14 and has 4 assist. I think that and the fact that he so badly wants to be an all star is affecting his game. I personally think after the all star break (assuming he gets there) Bynum will pass more and do whatever it takes to win the championship (because every player knows that is the biggest factor in their legacy).

  54. #52 … the difference between kobe-pau-pj and kobe-shaq-pj is that all three of them are adults.

  55. This post was ridiculous in my opinion. don’t get me wrong, I agree with a some of its actual message. But the entire “some people have begun calling him the black hole” business is such lazy journalism. The truth is WHO is calling him the black hole other than you and your friends?

    It reminds me of what some political journalists do when they want to take the coward’s route. They say, (implied) I’m not saying this, (said) but SOME people say that you are a scumbag. They are too cowardly of course to say that “I am saying you are a scumbag” and instead say “some people say that you are a scumbag.” It is too funny.

    Forget the fact that i’ve never heard people refer to Bynum as the “black hole” except for some people on this website. Forget the fact that it is NOT a correct and legit insult. The cowardice not to take it on your own shoulders and say it yourself is what gets me.

    Who cares if a couple obscure people are calling Bynum the black hole? Should I write a similar article saying that “some people are calling Magic Johnson racist?” Are people calling Magic racist? I’m surely not, most people definitely not, but i can find some nuts somewhere in the world calling him racist even if they have nothing to support their claims. It would be cowardly of me to write something about Magic Johnson and say: “some people call him racist, will Magic be able to shed this monikor?”

    As for the question of whether this insult is deserved, I completely disagree. Bynum is one of the most efficient players in basketball. Yet he is only averaging 17 points per game. This alone makes the insult irrational. How can one be a “black hole” if they are a starter who plays 34 minutes per game on average, is one of the most efficient players in basketball, yet only scores 17.4 points per game? The numbers simply do not ADD up.

    The parts of the post i do agree with is that Bynum does need to become a better passer. He is an average passer in my opinion, but he can become a GREAT passer. Especially when playing with Gasol.

    Also, I believe that we should not want Bynum to emulate Gasol perfectly. I think that Gasol, while the best big man in basketball, is NOT perfect. One of his imperfections is that he passes the ball TOO MUCH. Yes, Pau Gasol MUST BE MORE SELFISH! This is one of his downfalls. He would be much more positive for the team if he WAS more selfish.

    Not to mention that Gasol and Bynum are different players. Even if Gasol had the perfect blend of selfishness/passing, we would want Bynum to be more selfish. Why? Because Bynum has a much higher ceiling in regards to scoring near the basket. Yes, i believe that Bynum will be a BETTER scorer, if he isn’t already, than Gasol. The author said that Bynum was close. I disagree. The numbers show that Bynum is equal to if not better than Gasol at scoring near the basket.

  56. Kaveh, you really need to relax. First, this is a blog, not the New York Times or Washington Post or whatever you consider “objective journalism” (as someone who works in that field we can have a discussion if you want about if objective journalism has now or has ever really existed, but that’s an entirely different topic). We have a little fun here, which can include nicknames now and again. But you go on to prove the point of the post — you admit that Bynum could learn to pass better. Darius does a fantastic job breaking that down in detail, the pros and the cons. But sadly you can barely get past the nickname to get to the meat of the post. You miss the point.

    This is a blog and the style of it is not changing.

  57. New post up from Bill Bridges.

  58. Kaveh,
    I read your comment, had a lot to say, then Kurt beat me to it. I will say, though, that I don’t claim to be a journalist; I am only a fan. I see the game and its players and like to talk about what I see. And that’s it. Also, the reason there is a question mark in the title of the post is because it really is a question to me. And in the post, I try to go about discussing what I think is actually going on. Thanks for reading.

  59. 56 – I’m not sure why “The Black Hole” has to become a nationalized term that we see on Bill Simmons’ podcasts before someone can write about it on FBaG.

    Darius’ post was a well-thought out analysis addressing concerns some have expressed on this site. And guess what? It appeared on this site, and–wait for it–was written for the people who visit this site…a significant portion of whom expressed those concerns over Bynum’s passing. Shock!

    The whole point of it was that some FBaG’ers had concerns over Bynum’s passing, and so there was a post on FBaG addressing that. I’m not sure why that’s a difficult concept to grasp, but then again I’m not blinded by Bynum’s jockstrap.

    I look forward to reading your piece on Magic Johnson’s racism.

  60. GREAT blog and comments. Besides passing and pounding the boards, Drew must be more focused, energetic and consistent on defense. He has lapses which are infectious or he gets infected by when our Lakers fall asleep.

    Our perimeter defenders screw up not infrequently, and Drew needs to defend the paint better instead of leaving it up to Pau/LO, Artest/KB. Does anyone have stats on how well he does getting back on D after a missed Laker shot compared to LO or Pau?

    On Pau, he deserves more touches. Drew and Pau are our most efficient players. Kobe is our best player but, let’s be honest, he takes more low percentage shots than he should (so does L.O. A.M. (after marriage)) and most of the Laker bench.

  61. 56, I think there are a number of flaws in your logic.

    First, I named Andrew “The Black Hole;” if anything, Darius has been against the name.

    Second, don’t you see all the complaining about how Andrew doesn’t get the ball enough? That’s why he only averages 17 ppg. Guys don’t pass him the ball, because that’s its final destination before heading to the rim. So it’s completely compatible for him to be TBH and still average only 17 ppg.

    No one has claimed that Andrew is not in fact a good scorer, if not becoming a great scorer. But this does not change the fact that he rarely passes out of the post. You can debate the merits of whether he should or should not pass out, but doesn’t change the fact that he will shoot the ball out of a double before he passes out.

    You seem to have it in your head that “Black Hole” is some horrendous insult that I’ve placed on Andrew; if anything, it is a balanced praise/critique. Andrew should be aggressive, but this needs to be balanced against the flow of the game.

  62. Kevin McHale was nicknamed the Black Hole as well and is considered possibly the player with the best low post moves ever. It is not necessarily an insult or a degrading term.