Tracking Andrew Bynum

Kurt —  December 28, 2009

[picappgallerysingle id=”7101010″]
What is up with Andrew Bynum’s shot? In his last three games he is shooting 38.5% at the rim, although he is 2-4 from the rim out to 10 feet (Bynum rarely shoots beyond that range). In the last five games that improves to 57.9% at he rim (thanks to a good showing of 5 of 6 against Detroit) but that number is still low for what you would hope he could do. And this doesn’t even bring up the questions of rebounds and defense.

Things can change fast, the back-to-back that starts tonight is one where Bynum can break out — the Suns and Warriors cannot handle him on the block, he has had success there before. These are the games that could boost his confidence.

What needs to change? Last night I rewatched the last two Lakers games, simply tracking Bynum, and here are a few notes:

• He’s just missing shots he can make. For the most part, these are not terrible shots, they are 5 to 9 foot jump hooks or other shots where he is single and sometimes double covered, but stuff he can make. He’s just not. Call it a shooting slump or a confidence issue or if you want blame Dr. Facilier’s black magic (hey, I have young daughters, what movie did you think I watched this weekend?). Whatever the reason, he is missing shots he can make.

Perfect example, the Lakers first possession against the Kings: Gasol is out at the three point line and feeds Bynum on the left mid-block, then makes his cut baseline and moves through. Bynum waits for the double but it never comes hard (Kobe has slid over as the three point release for Bynum and people are afraid to double off Kobe for some reason), so Bynum makes his move to the middle on Spencer Hawes and gets a good look 8 footer that rims out (Gasol tips it in).

• At times he seems to try to do a little too much. Not trusting the simple jump hook to fall, there are moments he seems to try to put on a couple moves when one would do. Again against Hawes on Boxing Day, Bynum had the ball on the low block and tried a fake middle, spin back through move but Hawes does a good job just keeping a body on a body. Bynum drops the ball, picks it up and tries to dribble again and gets called for it.

• On defense, he has been inconsistent at protecting the rim, and had some bad luck. A couple times he was back on Tyreke Evans and forced him to alter his shot, it’s just that Evans is a wizard and makes them anyway. But then there was when Ime Udoka drives and Bynum picks him up forcing him baseline, but Udoka stopped, spun back into the paint and with a head fake got Bynum up and out of position, The result was basically a layup.

• Drew is passing, and I don’t just mean that beautiful three-quarter court baseball pass to Kobe last game.

If the double team comes early, Bynum usually recognizes it and makes the pass to the right relief point (and often good shots ensue). But if the double comes once he puts the ball on the floor and starts his move, he is pretty likely to shoot, once his mind is made up he just goes.

• Bynum’s one basket against Sacramento is something I’d like to see him do more of (and get touches that way). He is the big on the weak side of the triangle and when the ball swings out top again he goes from low to high post and gets the ball from Adam Morrison at the elbow. Ammo then runs the standard little rub cut off he big — essentially a pick and roll action — and Bynum hands the ball off to him, but now both defenders go out on Ammo to trap and cut him off (I’m not sure that was great player recognition by the Kings), so Bynum rolls to the hoop, gets the pass back and has a clear path. I think he can be effective in that role more.