We Love Him, We Love Him Not…

Darius Soriano —  February 9, 2010

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Something interesting has occurred the last two games. Lamar Odom has made his yearly renaissance. This season marks the third in a row where LO is making his mid-season push as one of the indispensable Lakers. However, there is a catch that comes with this improved play.  In all these seasons that LO has turned up his game, it’s been because one specific Laker has missed extended time with injuries. That Laker is Andrew Bynum.

Over the past few seasons, some Lakers fans (myself included) have had a “can’t live with him, can’t live without him” mentality about Bynum.  On the one hand, we all see that he’s a fantastic young Center with an incredible skill set – he’s a giant of a (young) man with pterodactyl arms and soft hands attached, he’s got a myriad of post moves that allow him to score with elite level efficiency, he’s a capable rebounder, and he’s a presence in the paint on defense that alters and blocks shots.  Every time I see ‘Drew give Tim Duncan the business or when I see him body up big men and make guys like Kendrick Perkins look small, I can’t imagine not having this guy around. On the other hand, despite his offensive efficiency he has not yet developed a “feel” for passing that would take his game to the next level, he doesn’t always seem engaged in the game, his in-game effort is seemingly completely dependent on how he’s doing on offense, and for all his size he’s still not the rebounder/defender that he could be (though he is effective at both of those things). So when I see missed opportunities to make the extra pass or see big ‘Drew hang his head because a play didn’t go his way, I wonder what his future on this team really is. It’s these thoughts and this quasi pro’s/con’s list that goes through my mind whenever I think about Bynum and what is best for the Lakers’ future.  And I’m not alone.

After the last couple of games, the discussion of what to do with Bynum is heating up (on this site). Again, we love him, we love him not.  Here’s what we’re saying about our immensely talented, but sometimes mismatched big man:

T.Rogers -I hope people aren’t starting to think Bynum is expendable. No doubt there are spacing issues when him and Pau are on the floor together. It is up to the coaching staff to figure that out. But let’s not get too hasty here. The Lakers will need Bynum’s big body if they are to complete their title defense. Every front court is not as undersized as San Antonio’s.

There will nights and teams where the Lakers front court will have to out-muscle the opposing front court. And there is nothing about a Gasol+Odom combination that says “muscle.” And that’s okay. The Lakers won last year because of versatility. There will be nights were they need Pau and Lamar to run circles around the opposition.

But dismissing Bynum+Gasol is like getting rid of your uppercut to fight solely with the jab. It’s the combination of punches that ultimately KO’s the opponent. And for that reason the Lakers still very much need Andrew Bynum.”

Don - “I would rather put Gasol and Bynum out there together at the cost of a few games so that they can play better off one another in time for the playoffs. To bench Bynum and say that they’ve plateaued in terms of their chemistry together is underestimating these professionals and PJ. Besides, the first quarters of NBA games don’t matter anyway. How many times have you seen teams dominate the first quarter and lose?”

Craig W. -In American football there is an adage that the quarterback gets to much credit in a win and too much blame in a loss, despite being the key component of almost all teams.  We may be coming to the same conclusion with the Lakers.  I too am beginning to think it is not the loss of Kobe that is revealing what the other players can do in the triangle, but the loss of both Bryant and Bynum. It’s the combination that seems to point the way.  This is a hard conclusion because I have been in the Bynum camp almost from the beginning.”

Bynumite – It seems pretty evident to me at least, that the offense is less stagnant with Bynum out. Mostly because of the two-man game of Lamar and Pau. While the idea of bringing Bynum off the bench is tantalizing (he would wreck shop on 95% of backup centers in the NBA), I don’t think PJ is looking to do that. There is a way of integrating Bynum into this offense with Pau out there as well. These players are too smart and too skilled to for the Lakers to be average by our standards offensively. Maybe it has to do with Bynum being a more willing passer or reading the play better, I am not entirely sure.”

Rudy – Eventhough Phil Jackson would never do this, I am of the feeling that we would be better off making Bynum come off the bench. In watching these 2 games it is obvious Odom has looked much more energetic in starting alongside Gasol. Although I do think Bynum is needed to play against the powerhouses of the east, there does seem to be more space for our offense to operate more effectively with him out.”

The Dude Abides -Hmm…do people remember a huge factor in our win over Boston nine days ago? Bynum was a beast who pwned Perkins on offense, grabbed a ton of rebounds, and contested seemingly every Celtic shot from 12 feet and in. All this happened as the Celtics played much better for the first 39 minutes than they had been doing in their recent stretch of games, and then the Lakers overcame an 11-point deficit with nine minutes to go. Pau was on the bench while Drew was on the court for most of this fourth quarter comeback.

We all know that Pau is Option #1A along with Kobe on offense, as the offense frequently runs best through Pau. However, a healthy Bynum is another huge factor in the team’s success and versatility. Let’s not forget that.”

And on and on we go.  Let me state this now and in no uncertain terms: I love Andrew Bynum.  I think his combination of size and skill is a rarity in this league and you don’t just give that away – you foster it and develop it in order to unleash it on the rest of the NBA.  That said, Bynum is not the only capable player on this team and he is only one part of its success.  Bynum is flanked by all-stars and all NBA performers.  He’s teamed with talents with all around game(s) and players who do whatever it takes to win.  And that is the rub.  I have no doubts that if Bynum had been drafted onto a team that didn’t have the leagues premier perimeter talent of this generation, but still given the same level of coaching and time to develop he’d be spoken of in the same manner that we speak of Dwight Howard or (pre-injury) Greg Oden.  He’d be one of the players that we thought was the future of this league.  However, just like in real estate, location matters in the NBA.  You are shaped by your environment and have to deal with the circumstances that you are brought into.  And right now, Bynum is on a contender that needs certain things from him – things that may change from night to night.  One night we may need the offensive beast that shoots a high percentage and can be an anchor on offense in the post.  While on other nights, we may need fifteen rebounds and 5 blocks with only a handful of points to go along with all that defensive impact.  Can Bynum play this way?  I’m not sure if he’s mature enough at this point in his career.

There are also X’s and O’s to consider.  As I mentioned at the top of this post, Lamar Odom is a key player for this team.  Much of our success over the past two seasons is at least partly attributed to the versatility of Odom’s game and how he meshes so well into what we hope to get out of the Triangle offense and our help schemes on defense.  Offensively, Odom opens up space for every other player on the court.  The fact that he can play on the perimeter and slash/cut like a SF while finishing in the lane and rebounding on both ends like a PF is priceless to this team.  His ability to be an offensive initiator means that our guards (including Kobe) are forced into more strict roles on offense where they are put into a position where they must to play off the ball more and use the motions of the offense to receive the ball and take shots.  Odom is also a player that is one of our better post-entry passers and can run the elbow P&R that more times that not forces switches on defense and enables our Center to get matched up with a PF on the block or allows LO to use his speed to penetrate against a slow footed defender.  And since Odom has a pass first mentality he’s not only looking for his own offense on any given play, but looking to set up one of his mates for an easy look.  Meanwhile, Bynum is strictly a post player.  While he’s flashing an improved jumpshot, he still lives on the low block and that means whenever he is on the floor, at least one side of the floor will not be penetrable by the dribble.  And when Bynum and Pau share the floor, we will always have at least one of our bigs not in their comfort zone as one of them will almost always be parked at the high post where his offensive efficiency suffers.  And until these two bigs develop more chemistry in playing two man game through either high low or block to block passing, our overall offensive efficiency will suffer.

There is no easy answer here.  Bynum is a young player that needs to be nurtured and given more and more responsibility if we expect him to grow and develop into the player we think he can be.  That means more post touches, more shot attempts, more crunch time minutes, and more understanding when he doesn’t play up to expectations.  However, the Lakers are a team that is built to win now.  And since that is the case, we also need clearly defined roles or players with the ability to play a variety of styles that compliment each other in order to create a balance and generate wins.  Right now, I think it’s clear that Bynum is a player that needs touches while our team seems to perform its best when touches don’t come into the equation.  Bynum is a player that doesn’t compliment Pau in the same way that a perimeter oriented, slashing, passing big man does – but Bynum is a player that can supplant Gasol as a post up weapon that can get us easy points when others are struggling to score the ball.  In the end, I think it’s a nice problem to have.  I’d rather have too much talent, than not enough.  But in order to win as a team, that talent needs to mesh.  These last two games with Bynum and Kobe sitting have shown that to be true more than ever.  Like I said, there is no easy answer here but one must still be figured out anyway if we hope to get the most out of this team.

Darius Soriano

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102 responses to We Love Him, We Love Him Not…

  1. So fun to watch these last two games (though the first quarters have been painful).

    1. It’s been really fun watching the team run the offense. The psychological point of the triangle is to keep everyone on the team involved in offense, reading and moving, so that they don’t just let a superstar dominate (and be swarmed). Unfortunately, the team seems to have drifted into watching and not reading, pre-Kobe-injury.

    2. It’s been interesting watching Popovich try to work Jefferson into the team concept. I really respect what Pop has accomplished over the years, but I think his style plays into the stereotype that a coach really just needs to yell more. That only works on a team whose leader (Timmy, and the Admiral back in the day) will take it and learn from it. Now we’re hitting year 14 of Pop, which is a damned long time to go without losing your team. This year is the biggest crisis to face Pop – how to transition the team to a post-Tim world, and I’m fascinated to see if he can do it. Jefferson is a first test case, and it’s not working. Worse yet, Pop is saying things in the press that suggest he’s given up on RJ.

    The big point is that fans treat teams like fantasy rosters and figure it’s no big deal to get players working together. This year, the Lakers are facing a transition of similar proportions – integrating Bynum and Artest, and figuring how to transition to post-Fisher and (ulp) post-young-Kobe. And I wanted to give credit to the coaching staff for managing it as well as they have, so far. They’re doing a great job, with the caution that the team of course needs to improve to get past DEN and CLE.

    3. As great as the team has played these last two games, we haven’t played a lot of bullies. We need Bynum to play against the big bruising bully teams (BOS, CLE, DEN). He hasn’t played that well against them so far, but he’s our main interior hope. Without Bynum and Kobe, we should have a reasonable chance against UTA, because their bigs are finesse. All the way? Forget it.

    4. Artest seems to have adopted the policy that if he spots up for three, he won’t take it unless he can wind up for two seconds or more. Otherwise, he’ll pass off. This is a solid policy. He also ran some solid triangle plays (a couple of good strong-side options, like the crossing-rub-screen by the wings leading to a dive down the lane. Really encouraging.

    5. Bynum has a small version of the Kobe problem. Bynum one on one versus 90% of the centers in the league is really the best option on O. Bynum double-teamed is still the best option some of the time. How do you score efficiently and keep the others involved and not be a black hole? It was almost shocking to see Pau passing out of the post, re-posting and getting the ball back last game. Bynum hasn’t developed the trust from his team, nor his judgment about when to keep the ball. But he’s young, and it took Kobe years to figure it out (some argue he has to figure it out anew every year). In theory, Phil is working more with Bynum. Let’s hope he figures out just enough this year to take us all the way…

  2. The real problem isn’t getting the most out of the team, but getting the most out of the team now.

    That really is the issue with Andrew – his age and experience (bball IQ). I don’t think he can retain confidence in his game without first going to his offense. How do we utilize his immense skill set without destroying his confidence?

    Perhaps Phil can replace him early in the 1st qtr when playing teams where we absolutely have to have the fluidity and movement that Pau and Lamar provide. If the last two games are any indication, we are not going to be a quick starting team until Kobe is fully recovered.

  3. Andrew will be a very good NBA player for many years. But is he right for this team? When you have a post up in Gasol, a potential post up player in Odom(much preferred then 3-point shooter) and a potential super star poster in Kobe where does Bynam fit in? He dosen’t because he only want to score. Team defense has been great without him because the weak pick and roll defense is gone. Also watch him on d as he often is running down court as the ball goes up instead of crashing board. I counted 7-times in one game I was at. Bynam will be very good but not for this team and the personal we currently have.

  4. isn’t it ironic that the theme of this post (love/not) can be applied to so many of this team’s featured players? Bynum, Fisher (inspired leadership/over-the-hill), Pau (overall excellence/soft), Odom (key to success/disappears for long stretches), Artest (a force on both ends/can’t jump), even KB (best in the west/supremely selfish even when hurt).

    I can’t think of another elite team that has this many issues going for it. ; )

  5. This post basically echoes my thoughts from the comments section of the last post. What I fear/hope is that Bynum is still playing to avoid being injured. Having two catastrophic injuries in back-to-back seasons will likely do that. I expect/hope that Bynum will explode at some point in time where he gets close to forgetting his past injuries. It may be this year, it may be when Kobe/Gasol slow down, but I think it will happen.

    Defensively, I think better perimeter defense from the guards and/maybe better scheming would better utilize Bynum’s talents. But he has to learn not to foul (like Pau has).

    All fans who want to get rid of this kid should really look at the Chris Mihm/Kwame Brown years. Kobe can’t play forever… If he’s damaged goods, then so be it. But you don’t give away 7’0, 260lbs with good post games unless you know that.

  6. Good stuff, Darius. I hope people don’t think I am one of those fans who thinks Bynum is the second coming of Kareem or Wilt. He is not THAT good, and probably won’t ever be. However, he is good, solid, young big man. The challenge for the coaching staff is to figure out how to best make use of the players on this roster.

    In theory, the Triangle offense should be perfect for the Lakers “problem” of too much talent. It is about spacing, cutting, and every player being involved. I think if the team (especially Kobe) made conscious effort of running the Triangle consistently then a lot of the Gasol/ Bynum issues would be resolved.

    As I wrote in the last post, the offense runs a lot better when Gasol is the focal point. How about bringing Drew and Kobe back and letting them work around Pau Gasol? I know some think Kobe would never go for that. But what is the alternative? Surely it can’t be as bad as the their inconsistent play of late (minus the last two games).

  7. Great post summarizing the range of feelings about Bynum.

    The one thing that I always seem to forget about Bynum is that he is so young. He turns 23 this October. While he has been in the NBA for five seasons, this 22 year old man still has a lot to learn. Bynum seems to be taking the Kobe path of going for the individual glory, then pursuing the team objectives.

    Bynum has suffered terrible injuries the past two seasons and a lot of questions have been raised about his durability and toughness. It’s understandable that he wants to answer those questions and prove that he is worth the contract he just signed.

    I have been excited about Bynum since I first saw him summer league five years ago. Even moreso when he dunked all over Shaq at that Christmas day game. He may not put it all together this year, but I am confident that he eventually will.

    I am hopeful that the Lakers can put it all together in the remaining 29 games. When the triangle offense is run properly, it is a thing of beauty.
    When Kobe makes his return, I hope that the Kobe-watching is taken down a notch. I think that the past two games has shown Kobe something, at least I hope.

  8. Could the Lakers beat Shaq or Dwight in the finals without Bynum? Remenber that next year Oden and Yao are back in the Westtern Conference. Do you want DJ as the back-up for 25 minutes a game?

    The only real problem with Andrew is that he still has some emotional growing up to do, the rest will develope over time.

  9. This is just funny. We won the last two games with Gasol at Center because we played two teams that don’t have a Center. Didn’t we all watch the 2008 Finals? How soon we forget. The Lakers would have won the title against the Celts if Gasol was starting at PF and would have lost the Finals last year if Pau again had to start at Center. This has to be the most off based post of the season. Haven’t we seen Gasol and Lamar get punked enough by big front lines?

  10. No one has suggested Kobe off the bench, for that quick offensive spark.

  11. Aaron

    I see that you are not giving Pau any credit for what he did to Dwight Howard in the 2009 Finals. Pau was the biggest reason why Dwight was stymied. While I do agree that if we had him starting at PF for the 2008 Finals, we would have had a better chance, it isn’t a guarantee that we win the title. That Celtics team was a great team with a healthy Kevin Garnett. The loss in the Finals and the ensuing criticism is what drove Pau last season.

  12. Aaron,
    You’re one of the only people I’ve seen that continues to claim to know how events would play out if something different occurred. Playing the what if game is fun – I thoroughly enjoyed that portion of Bill Simmons’ book – but it’s not based on anything but speculation and conjecture.

  13. #9 – Okay, Aaron. I was trying to be nice about it.

    But you are still spot on.

  14. Here is the thing, Bynum starts (for a confidence issue) but doesn’t play at the end of games. Everyone seems to think they need to move him to the bench or trade him away. Why? PJ uses him the way he wants. He can throw him out there to punish small frontlines or when he needs someone to bang. Drew plays like 27 minutes a game so it isn’t like he is killing us in any way. He is basicly a starting 6 man, whom the Lakers aren’t trading because he is 22 and improving. He is the same age as some college seniors and most big men develop slow. Dwight still doesn’t have the post game Drew has. Give him time and relaize it isn’t just now but the future of this team. Don’t be short sighted

  15. I say trade Bynum for Marbury.

    (this is a joke)

  16. I haven’t read the comments yet, so sorry if someone else already posted thoughts similar to these:

    I think there are three things at work here: 1) None of the Odom/Gasol/Bynum trio have a real strong outside game. Gasol’s is OK, but not great, and it’s not nearly as good as his inside game. So they tend to want to occupy the same space. That would be the advantage to having a Bosh on the team. 2) Then add in Bynum’s unwillingess to play hard if he isn’t getting the ball enough, and 3) the fact that he isn’t as good a passer yet. Those three put together put a ceiling on what they will produce as a group that is lower than what you would expect, given their individual talents. I think 2) is the most significant, and would also be the easiest to rectify, but I am not real confident that that will happen.

    It seems to me that Bynum doesn’t really have passion for the game. I think he likes being an NBA player, but how much does he like playing? That would explain his sporadic intensity level, the fact that he didn’t do a whole lot over the summer and stopped working with Kareem, and the fact that he didn’t play much basketball earlier in his life. If I am correct with that, he can still be a good player, because of his natural ability, but I don’t think he will be a great player without that passion.

  17. Darius,
    The person who claims to know how events would play out if something different occurred is only bested by the person who can read the minds of players and their teammates by reading their body language!

    These two people are sometimes the same, and can be entertaining as they love to share their opinions almost as much as they love to hear their own voice.

    Me, I am waiting to see how the Lakers perform against Utah, winners of 12 of their last 13 games, including a win over Cleveland.

  18. @#16
    I think from Bynum’s history as a prep player, we can deduce that he’s not someone who would be playing basketball even if he wasn’t 7 feet tall. Basketball found him more than the other way around.

    But I think emotional maturity comes into the equation. I don’t want to start a firestorm by mentioning Zach Randolph, but I think I have to. Z-Bo was the posterchild for being a selfish knuckleheaded player who was on his last chance and for the past 50 games has put himself together and silenced some of his more vocal critics. And Z-Bo is a full 6 years older than Bynum. It took him awhile to “get it”, but he got it.

    Right now I just don’t think Bynum gets it. At least not all the way. On some level he understands that Kobe’s better than him and Pau Gasol is better than him, and probably Ron Artest/Lamar Odom are better than him so when they one-up him in touches he has to know his role and shut his mouth so to speak. But on a more emotional level he DOESN’T get it. My favorite Bynum expression is after Gasol misses a short hook or a layup or something. When Bynum comes back, look for that expression. It’s a cross between disgust and abject frustration.

    I like the overall tone of Darius’s post that Bynum is an extra club in our bag. We may have a lot of confidence in our big 5 iron and you can do a lot of things with a 5 iron. But we have the luxury of a full bag and we don’t have to go to the 5 iron over and over when it’s time to call on the wedge. If that’s how we use Bynum for the rest of the year, I’ll be OK with that.

  19. Simply put, the Gasol/Bynum/Odom trio presents a wealth of options, something that would be missing if the Lakers moved Bynum for a certain dynamic PF.

    If the Gasol/Bynum starting lineup is ineffective, then yank one for Odom.

    If you want the speedier lineup, put Gasol/Odom.

    If you want length and size, go with Gasol/Bynum…and so on.

    The reason we keep Bynum is that the FO and coaching staff probably wants these options available down the road. A good problem for us to have, I believe.

  20. Bynum gets mentally tougher every season. I remember when he looked like a nervous, pimply teen out there. Now he’s a man. And his footwork’s improving all the time. He’s rarely off-balance. I don’t think he’ll be a HOFer or anything but he could be a perennial All-Star, no doubt.

  21. I like this debate; I’m firmly among those who say Bynum is the future cornerstone of the Lakers, and trading him would be a huge mistake.

    He has some flaws, as his critics have noted here. But in time, he’ll be the one moving this team on as Kobe fades to black.

    Which raises a question: how many here beleive the recent improved play — ball movement, distribution of scoring, wins over two problematic playoff contenders, etc. — has something to do with Kobe’s absence moreso than Drew’s?

    Don’t take me wrong — I am not suggesting that the team doesn’t need Kobe to contend. We just need a Kobe who plays the right way, and of late I think his shot selection has been more than questionable.

    However, of late with his injuries he’s not been nearly as effective. He too often jacks up jumpers, rather than working the offense inside out, or trying to attack the rim.

    I believe a big reason for the improved flow of late is because guys are looking to get good shots, within the offense, rather than just dumping the rock to 24 and waiting for him to do something.

    Aside from Pau missing way to many from inside 5 feet, last night’s game was very fun to watch because we saw the triangle: Farmar slashing to the rim, Odom taking people off of cuts, The Machine even made a cameo.

    Hopefully when Kobe and Drew return, this will continue more than we’ve seen of late when they were on the floor. The team is so much deeper than it’s appeared when the offense consisted of Kobe, Kobe, Pau, Kobe, Kobe, Drew, Kobe, Kobe, Kobe, etc.

  22. I really like Bynum’s game (although ironically not as much as the 20 games before he hurt his knee the first time) but the fact is he’s a space eater that needs a lot of touchs and shots to be effective.

    And while he’s very effective, he’s not quite effective enough to be the “man” on a team as talented as the Lakers, especially since Kobe will never accept being the number 2 guy on a team.

    I think it’s prudent for the Lakers in this 3-5 year window to entertain the idea, of what pieces they can get for Bynum while their championship window is still open.

  23. Archon,
    The Buss family has never run this franchise with solely the present in mind. The only time we have not had some sort of transition in place was when Magic suddenly ‘retired’ in ’91. Even then, we had enough talent to make a real fight of it, but the following years were somewhat depressing.

    It was for this reason we took a chance on Kobe’s signing with the Clippers and got rid of Shaq. Kobe was young enough to build through several tough years.

    Regardless how much we fans may complain now, the Lakers are not going to throw away all the lifeboats just to try and finish first this year or next year.

    Besides — this is a pretty good team as it currently is constructed.

  24. @Aaron (#9): Bynum was such a non-factor in the playoffs last year it’s not even funny. You *should* be saying we won in spite of him playing like present day ‘Sheed.

    Another thing that’s funny to me is how one-sided everyone claims the ’08 Finals were. I don’t know if you remember, but we played pretty well for the first 5 games. If not for a total meltdown in Game 4 when we blew the 20+ point 3rd quarter lead, you could argue we would have won that series. I think we got ahead by double digits in the first half in 4 of the first 5 games in that Finals. It was the beginning of the 2nd and 4th quarters that really hurt us in that series.

  25. Craig,

    I agree with your general point, (although Shaq did force Buss’ hand). I just wonder if Bynum is ever going to be the player that you can build a championship team around. Reasonable people can disagree on that point, but the Lakers should be careful and not do what Portland does, which is overrate their young talent, especially since the Laker’s are definitely, definitely, built to win now…

    Also the Boston finals meltdown aside, I think people forgot how devestatingly effective Gasol and Odom are together these past few years…

  26. Jay’s #18 post had a lot of spot on comments.

    I especially agree with Jay’s initial point: Bynum is most likely not someone who would be playing basketball if he wasn’t 7 feet tall. He wanted to be an engineer before he hit that growth spirt. He started playing basketball really late, and I remember during the draft, when someone asked his high school coach about Bynum’s future, and the coach essentially said, “Well, he was on our team, and we couldn’t get past the first round of the state playoffs.”

    Piggybacking off of Jay’s initial point, Darius, I have to disagree with the portion of your post where you say that Bynum would be talked about as on par with Dwight Howard if he hadn’t landed with the Lakers.

    Bynum had the benefit of hours of one-on-one tutoring from Kareem Abdul Jabbar. He finally developed the chip on his shoulder he needed to really perform at a high level once Kobe called him out publically (even if it wasn’t intended). Does everyone remember how awful Bynum was in his first two years? There weren’t even flashes of good things to come.

    It was only after years of one-on-one work with Kareem and being publically scalded by Kobe that he finally started to morph into the player he is today.

    And what type of player is that?

    He’s basically a poor man’s Shaq (when Shaq was in his prime).

    Shaq, if you’ll remember, didn’t run the triangle, either. He’d sit in the post and scream for the ball. Only Shaq was such a force of nature, he could score on whoever he wanted, whenever he wanted. He was a beast who wasn’t intimidated by anyone.

    Let’s not forgot, too, that Shaq didn’t really try on defense either, but Shaq took it personally if an offensive player went into the lane, which at least was something (I don’t see that from Bynum). Shaq commanded (well, demanded) a level respect right away that Bynum doesn’t get.

    Bynum doesn’t have young Shaq’s power, athleticism, or quite frankly, his toughness.

    So what you have with Bynum is an extremely skilled big man, who doesn’t run the triangle, doesn’t pass, and dogs it on defense if he’s not sufficiently involved in the offense.

    But that’s THANKS to his situation.

    If Bynum was drafted by, say, New York, he wouldn’t even be in the league now. He would have been written off as a soft youngster who didn’t appear to have much interest in basketball.

    It’s thanks to being drafted by the Lakers that he’s the player he is today.

  27. Darius,
    It isn’t all too difficult to predict likely outcomes based on certain outliers. When you start a PF (Gasol) at Center there are major downsides as one could imagine. The first and for most being that when matched up against a legitimate Center (Perkins) there will be a size mismatch. It is not a coincidence that Gasol struggled against Perkins in the Finals making him look like the 2nd coming Arnold Swarchenegger and then a couple weeks ago Andrew slapped Kendrick around like he was Danny Devitto (Twins jokes always work). It isn’t Gasol’s fault… and I don’t think he is soft. He just isn’t a Center.

  28. How quickly we forget the play of Drew before last seasons injury. I dont remember a single critic talking about how him and Gasol cant share the floor. Beyond the few bumps the offense overall has taken I cant figure out where exactly it became evident they cant share the floor. I agree Bynum needs his touches to be effectively, however, and I hate to say it. I think our offensive woes are more directed to Kobe watching. There is a complete lack of movement the second Kobe has the ball or a SINGLE pass into the post is made. Hardly anyone seems to make cuts or move, shooters appear to just spot and wait for the shot.

    Granted Bynum seems to run with his shot more often than Pau and does seem more offensive minded this year than the start of last year. Personally I really think the team as a whole is to blame more than any one player.

    Only reason things look different right now is Kobe isnt there and when your game changer is out you all of a suddenly cant stand around and watch the second best thing. An epiphany of sorts occurs and you realize you just lost that wall you were standing up against.

  29. 24) CHise,
    “Another thing that’s funny to me is how one-sided everyone claims the ‘08 Finals were.”

    Absolutely – the Celtics were a better team, but not by a whole lot.

  30. #26. Burgundy,
    I should have made this point more clearly, but what I said was that “if Bynum had been drafted onto a team that didn’t have the leagues premier perimeter talent of this generation, but still given the same level of coaching and time to develop” that he’d be talked about in the same way that we discuss Howard. I think the key there is the “same level of coaching and time to develop”. I say this only because Bynum is a hard worker. Did Kobe’s rant push him further? Sure. Would an unforgiving media pushed him in the same way? That’s possible too, right? For all the talk of his love of the game or how much he actually enjoys playing basketball, Bynum sure has improved. And in order to improve, you have to put in the time and effort. Credit can and should be given to the people that helped him along the way. But, doesn’t he still need to put in the work? Doesn’t he have to be receptive to coaching? I mean, he’s the one in the weight room changing his body and the one in the gym working on footwork and fundamentals and post moves that make him effective. He’s also the guy that has suffered two pretty bad knee injuries and worked himself back to a high level player when players who didn’t want it as much as he does may have folded or been too down on themselves to put in the needed work.

    I, by no means, want to portray Bynum as someone that doesn’t want to be great because I don’t think that’s the case at all. My only questions about Bynum come from how he can refine his game in a manner that maximizes his potential as a player while still finding a way to fit into the team structure that he currently finds himself in. As I implied in the main post, Bynum is playing with capable teammates and he needs to find his niche and I’d hope that he can become a malleable enough player to know that the best thing he can do for the team may be things outside of being a go to scorer on the block. But he’s young right now and for that he deserves time. Only that time he needs may be at the expense of what this team’s ceiling is in the present. That is why this is complex to me and can’t be easily broken down into camps of “trade him/bench him” or “start him, he’s perfect”. This game, like pretty much every other sport, is nuanced with human variables that can’t just swiped out for statistics on paper or extrapolated based off what makes the most sense. The game is not played in a vacuum.

  31. I’m sick and tired of hearing that Andrew “is so young… with so much potential.” The bottom line with Drew is that he is waaaayyy to lazy on Defense and rebounding and seems to only value scoring. This would be great if he were a PG, but as a center, he needs to understand that rebounding and defense are his primary objectives and offense is secondary. In my mind, this guy still needs a lot of work and with Kobe’s window closing, I wonder if we truly have a good base here for future championships or merely a good player that can help us build a base via trades.

    I know a lot of you see Drew as the new gold standard of centers, but I disagree as the current gold standard of centers is Dwight Howard – who by the way is ONLY 2 years older than Bynum. When Dwight was 21 years old he was pulling about 1000 (yes, 1000!) rebounds a season. Bynum has NEVER rebounded more than 500 in any season. In terms of points, there again DHoward was more productive at 21 than Drew was at 21. In fact, Bynum’s numbers at 21 are closer to Kayman’s than to DHoward’s.

    Before some of you shoot me, yes, I know that Bynum was injured half the season for the past two seasons, and that therefore my comparison is deeply flawed. I get that. But you quickly get the idea that for all the “promise” we have been expecting out of “young Drew”, the reality is that we are getting Kayman-like numbers for a DHoward-like contract. I’m not saying that’s awful, God knows we need him on the team, but I think to label him as the “future” of the franchise or “untradable” is a bit premature.

    In short, I think Bynum will continue to be a good center, but will never reach the legendary threshold of guys like Shaq or DHoward. Sorry guys. That’s the way I see it. I hope I’m proved wrong.

  32. I like Bynum, I like what he brings to the table that Gasol and Odom don’t. Both bring more to the table overall right now, but they’re significantly more experienced players.

    Bynum’s ceiling is actually pretty high. I don’t see him reaching it, unfortunately, but even 80%-of-his-potential Bynum is better than 27 or 28 starting centers in the league. If he could throw up a consistent 15/12/2-3 assists/2 blocks on 53% or higher shooting, I have a high level of confidence the Lakers can contend for most of the next decade.

    Where I see him fall down a bit is that he loses interest after the first quarter. The offense early in games is very Bynum-centric (I’m sure by design), and when he goes to the bench for Odom at the 2-minute mark, he’s not as engaged as he is early on, when the ball is being fed into the paint on every possession, at the very least to help open up the perimeter.

    Now, this may not be his fault entirely–oftentimes the offense shifts focus and the guards start bombing contested 22-footers rather than continuing to feed it inside where there are 2 (or 3) quality scorers ready to go to work. When I say “the guards”, this is not a veiled jab at Kobe–Brown and Farmar, particularly Farmar, chuck up a lot of jumpers too. I think this is also where Gasol gets frustrated–he’s an offensive mismatch on nearly any player in the game, he should get 15-18 shots a game, and instead, backup guards are pulling up and shooting low-percentage shots.

    Watch Bynum’s shooting by quarter–he’ll get 6-8 shots in the first (very frequently 2 out of the first 3 shots of the game are his), one in the second (in limited minutes), 1-2 in the third, and frequently none in the fourth, mostly due to not being on the floor in favor of Lamar than not getting the ball in the post.

    But he’d get 2 or 3 more easy shots a game if he ran the floor hard like Gasol (who gets a few easy dunks a game by busting his butt to beat his man down the floor), or rebounded with a little more intensity. I can wholly understand being conscious of his knees and not wanting to make that extra jump for fear of landing on a foot, but there are times where, let’s face it, he just doesn’t try.

    The other factor that slows his productivity down is foul trouble. Some big men get an early reputation as a “defender” (Dwight Howard) and get away with extra contact without getting whistled. Some players just “hustle” (Varejao, who commits more uncalled fouls–and has for years, I’m not pre-whining about a potential finals matchup–than anyone I’ve ever seen in my life, one possession I saw him commit FOUR, come up with the ball, and the announcers chuckled at his “hustle”), and some, like Bynum, get tagged as “raw”, meaning if they reached, or the offensive player pretends there was contact, it was a foul.

    The only way to lose the label is to change your playstyle–if Bynum played defense like Kendrick Perkins and dared the officials to blow the whistle, knowing they’d risk fouling him out in 3 minutes if they called every reach, he’d hear fewer whistles. He’d foul out of a few games early on, but once he got the “raw player that’s turned himself into a gritty defender” label, he’d be gold. Remember Chris Mihm and the absurd number of fouls he’d get called for? He had the “gawky white guy” label in the officials’ minds.

    Last, since this is already too long, I’ll reiterate what I said a few weeks ago during the Bosh rumor fiesta, I’d only support trading Bynum if we completely robbed the other team(s) blind in some Isiah-Thomas-level absurd package deal (edited for trade speculation). Otherwise, he stays, and I’m completely fine with that–big men with great hands and “raw” offensive skills simply aren’t very common. Dominating the league from the inside with two freakishly good big men sounds like a pretty good aging-Kobe and post-Kobe plan to me.

  33. Aaron,
    I’m not going to argue with you on this. Do I think a healthy Bynum would have helped in the ’08 Finals? Sure. Just like I think a healthy Bynum would have helped in last years Finals. But the fact is, he wasn’t healthy in either series. And against the Magic, he averaged about 20 minutes a game, a shade over 4 fouls a game, and didn’t reach double figures in scoring or rebounding once. All of that is excusable – the guy was playing on one leg.

    But the guy that was playing Center was Gasol. So, call him a PF all you want (I do think that’s his natural position – just like Duncan is a PF to me), but Pau was doing work in the pivot against the guy that most people call the best Center in the league. And we won the title that way. When you look at the entire 2009 playoffs, Bynum averaged a little under 18 minutes a game and got the Lakers 6pts, 4rebs, and committed 3.5 fouls a game. The rest of that time, it was Pau playing Center against Okur, Duncan, Nene, and Howard. In an earlier post, I was adamantly defending Bynum. Like I said, I love him. But, I’m going to defend Gasol – the guy can play Center and we’re pretty damned good when he does. So we lost a Finals with him playing Center. We won one too. The one we lost we played a team with one of the most physical front lines and a great defensive Center. The one we won we played a team that had the DPOY playing Center. Both teams were ranked #1 in defensive efficiency that season. Personally, I think Boston was the better team (over Orlando) and that plays itself out in the results of those series. But, I’d take Pau at Center over a lot of the guys that suit up at that position in the league – and that includes (at least some of the time) Bynum.

  34. Dunk Specialist February 9, 2010 at 2:32 pm

    Yeah I hate when people claim Bynum does want to be great or doesn’t love basketball. Does anyone remember actually learning how to play basketball? You are horrible the first time you touch a ball. Bynum did that at like 16 (add in the fact that he was probably tripping over his own feet at that age). It takes a ton of hard work to get better and get better quickly. The improvement Bynum made from the first year to year three was amazing. You think if Lebron or Kobe had picked a ball for the first time 6 years ago they would be dominating the league right now? Bynum clearly has the drive it is the fans that don’t have the patience. And there are plenty of guys whose favorite sport isn’t even the one they play (Nash and European football, Jordan and baseball, Tmac and baseball, AI and football, etc) yet those players seemed to turn into good basketball players. So I am not buying the Drew doesn’t even like basketball nonsense. He already got paid. If you guys believe that you have to eat and sleep basketball to be great you are wrong. The only players I hear this about is Kobe and Kevin Durant (I don’t even hear it with Lebron). So long as you put in the effort to be great you will be great. Drew can still like engineering. As far as I can see the problem isn’t him its you (the fans and I don’t mean that in a negative way. Fans are fans because they care so much). Bynum will be great but guess what it isn’t coming this year or next. Duncan was 22 (Bynums current age) as a rookie. How can people complain about the third or fourth best guy on the team?

  35. Versus the Spurs, the Lakers got more layups off of the pinch post sequence in one game than the previous 52 combined.

    Make the post pass and cut.
    Get the hand off and make the layup.
    Easy.
    Lay ups for Farmar, Luke, Artest…
    beautifully simple.

    If the sequence works it is always because the cutter makes a committed cut. If you pass the ball to Pau, you make a committed cut because you will get the ball back if you are open.

    If you pass the ball to Bynum, you trot through the sequence because you will not get the ball. Bynum, (as if almost annoyed) waits for you to clear so that he has space to make his post moves.

    On defense, Bynum has never learned technique and is naturally without tenacity. But pre-injury he played with preternatural length and athleticism. While never really knowing how to box out, he just went for the ball, and much like Mr. Fantastic, his hands reached like chamleons’ tongues snatching the rebound out of the air.

    Post-injury, he doesn’t go for the ball with nearly such abandon (and maybe he shouldn’t). As a result, his lack of technique has hurt.

    In some way, Kareem just was not the right mentor for him. An offensive-minded 7 footer with a mild demeanour and poor defensive instincts really shouldn’t be taught by an offensive-minded 7 footer with a mild demeanour and poor defensive instincts.

    A better mentor for Bynum might have been Hakeem, or Clifford Ray. Start with defense, then work on offense.

    If the Bulls offered Noah straight up for Bynum, I’d say no, probably. But would think about it real hard.

  36. I look at the last 2 games and I dont see: “the offense flows better without Bynum”

    What I do see in the the last 2 games is: The TEAM hasn’t played NEARLY as well as we can all season. They haven’t been running the triangle, they haven’t been cutting off passing lanes, we haven’t been winning loose balls or crashing the boards. We just haven’t played well at all. Period.

    Call the Denver game a wake up call, I guess. But these guys have played hard and they’ve played with playoff-type focus the last 2 games. It has nothing to do with Bynum’s skills as a passer, Kobe’s finger, or any other excuse that’s been thrown out this season. The best team in the league just started playing like it.

  37. RE: 30

    I see what you mean, Darius…but I also think you’re hedging a little too much: presenting the hypothetical of Bynum arriving in a situation with the same level of coaching and support, but without Kobe Bryant isn’t necessarily a good “what if” because it would never have happened. I can’t imagine a situation that could exist like that. The Celtics, maybe?

    That being said, I do agree with you that Bynum is a hard worker – and I’m not in the camp that he should “just be traded” unless it was a ridiculously good offer for the Lakers.

    I’m just disappointed in his continued demonstration that he cares more about his own success than the team’s success.

    Truth be told, you can get away with that, to a certain degree, if you’re a dominating, unstoppable force (like Kobe or Shaq, who you could argue put their personal success, at the very least, on par in importance with their team’s success), but Bynum is not an unstoppable force (unless he’s facing DeAndre Jordan in mid-January, that is).

    Bynum may be hard worker (and a very good player), but I haven’t really seen that “fire in his belly.”

    It could be his youth…but as MannyP13 mentioned, we saw it in Dwight Howard right away. He may not always make smart decisions (and he may go 0-2 on critical free throws in Game 4 of the NBA Finals), but there’s always an effort level with Dwight that hardly every wavers. You don’t grab that many boards by accident.

    That effort level isn’t always there with Drew.

    If Drew busted his behind like Howard does every game, he’d at least average 12 boards and 3 blocks. Those are things he can control, but they don’t appear to be important to him…

  38. Dunk Specialist February 9, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    Oh and if we don’t win it all this year it won’t be Bynum faults (he doesn’t play in the last 5 minutes of the game). It will be the fault of the bench for losing the lead or one of the finishing five not excuting. By the way thanks for the topic Darius I am fired up now (you can tell with all the post). It is good to not be bored at work :)

  39. #27 “It isn’t all too difficult to predict likely outcomes based on certain outliers. ”

    File that under HUBRIS.

  40. 28) – I feel the same way, even though you are not allowed to talk like that around other Laker fans. I laugh when people complain about Bynum’s shooting and not passing when the guy is only getting around 8 shots a game. Yet, Kobe gets the lions share of shots on offense and some think that has nothing to do with how disjointed the Lakers look.

    It makes sense that the Triangle offense runs a lot better when there is offensive balance. That was the most beautiful thing about the Spurs game. There was a balance of shots taken. It helps keep the defense guessing when they don’t know where the shots are coming from.

    Last week Kobe had a game where he took more shots than all of the other starters combined. Yet, after a couple of games with him and Bynum out and the offense looking good again the culprit is automatically Bynum.

    And the funny thing is Pau Gasol’s criticism of late (if you can call it that) has not been aimed at Bynum. They have been aimed at Kobe.

    Let’s try not to make Andrew Bynum the fall guy. He has plenty to work on. He could box out better and rebound better. Similarly, Kobe could take less shots and get the bigs quality touches. Also, it would be nice if Lamar would at least show up every other game. There is a lot of picking up to go around.

  41. Burgundy,
    You’re right, I shouldn’t play the “what if” game. Simply put, I think Bynum has the talent and work ethic to be a good/great player regardless of team. Like any great player though, he needs the coaching and help to get there. Would Bynum have gotten that in another city? I guess I don’t know. But I would hope that a franchise would realize they had a hard worker and find a tutor to help a kid that wants to improve. Especially if you drafted him when he was 17. Then again, I don’t run an NBA team.

  42. RE: 32

    I agree with Darius about Pau at center. Pau is easily one of the top five centers (OR Power Fowards) in the league by any metric.

    Pau was the one matching up with Dwight Howard in the Finals.

    The guys Pau struggles with aren’t necessarily good defensive centers (Howard is certainly a good defensive center), it’s DIRTY PLAYERS like the front line of Denver and Boston. That’s the truth.

    Pau isn’t soft (it’s not a toughness issue, in other words), but he lacks bulk. So when he goes against a guy like Perkins, KG, KMart, or Nene who are constantly sneaking in kidney punches, fouling him hard after every whistle, sticking their knee in thighs, elbowing him the ribs every time he reaches up for a rebound, grabbing and pulling at his fingers when he’s trying to gain position, etc…he’s going to wear down, just because of his physical build.

    I don’t necessarily blame him for that.

    And in case you can’t tell, I certainly don’t approve of the thug-brand of basketball that Denver and Boston employs, but I guess it works for them (and yes, I know Artest pulls a lot of that same garbage).

  43. RE: 38

    I completely agree with you on that point. In fact, I’ll take your point to it’s natural conclusion and say Bynum’s growth would probably be better served on a different team.

    If you take the player Bynum is today, and stick him on a team where he’s at the very least, the second option, he would put up a 20 and 10 with a couple blocks every night. There’s no doubt in my mind. That’s not even playing “what if,” that’s just the truth.

    The issue is more from a mental standpoint, would Bynum rather be on a playoff team where he can be option 1B where he won’t win a title, or would he rather be option 3 or 4 on a title team?

    I think he’d rather be option 1B, at this stage in his career.

  44. Burgundy,
    So you’re saying that if given the proposal that was given Shawn Marion when he got traded from Phoenix, he’d take the Marion route. You know what, you may be right. I think winning is something that young players can take for granted. I think winning is something that young players – especially talented young players – think will come naturally based off the fact that they’re young and that their talent will win out in the end. This was evident to me by the things that Reggie Bush was saying if the aftermath of the Saint’s Super Bowl title (and some of the reports that commentators were relaying during the game). Reggie was essentially saying that he knew he’d be in this position early in his career. That he knew that he and his mates would be talented enough to win. In the end, he was proven right. But if you ask guys like Karl Malone or, better yet, Dan Marino you might get different answers about how much winning is directly attributed to how talented you (or even your teammates) are.

  45. Has anyone noticed how many fast break points we had the last game? Lamar did an amazing job moving the ball up the court and getting into the lane as well as distributing the ball. The Lakes actually ran a full court offense! Let me say again the lakers actually RAN a full court offense, something we haven’t seen since Ariza has left. I think Bynum is a victim of his own speed and size. Bynum does not run as fast as Gasol or pass as good as Gasol and I think that’s what people are noticing, and critiquing. When we play a half court game Bynum is a beast, but in a full court press he’s not as good. I say keep him, the playoffs are mostly a half court game.

  46. “However, just like in real estate, location matters in the NBA. You are shaped by your environment and have to deal with the circumstances that you are brought into. And right now, Bynum is on a contender that needs certain things from him – things that may change from night to night. One night we may need the offensive beast that shoots a high percentage and can be an anchor on offense in the post. While on other nights, we may need fifteen rebounds and 5 blocks with only a handful of points to go along with all that defensive impact. Can Bynum play this way? I’m not sure if he’s mature enough at this point in his career.”
    I think Darius nailed it on this part, and unfortunately I’m pretty sure he won’t ever be mature enough for that. I see Bynum as a sort of Kobe+Shaq combo, in the worst sense possible. He was drafted by a team that had(and still has) a very dominant star so he had to fit in but injuries stopped him from developing into a 2nd banana and now the team has added a lot of weapons. He often sounds satisfied with the one ring he got, at least for now while he can’t be the #1.( I mean, in 5 years kobe will be 36, gasol 34 and he still will be only 27 so my guess he might change that by then)
    Also, to the ones mentioning the “future”
    lakers are built for a win now and squeeze as many championships as possible while kobe is still one of best players in the NBA and no one is suggesting to trade bynum for an old player. As far as I know the only rumor was Bosh for Bynum and Bosh is 25, 26 in march, not something like 29. He is still young too. Unless there was some other rumor I’m not aware of

  47. Our top four lineups this year, by point differential per 48 minutes (and the only ones with a spread of more than +10):

    1. Farmar-Bryant-Artest-Odom-Gasol (+40)
    2. Farmar-Brown-Artest-Odom-Gasol (+29)
    3. Farmar-Bryant-Artest-Odom-Bynum (+25)
    4. Fisher-Bryant-Artest-Gasol-Bynum (+12)

    The 4th one (our starters) is solid, but unfortunately it has played more minutes that the top 3 combined.

    The top four lineups from last year (with more than 40 minutes played):

    1. Vujacic-Bryant-Ariza-Odom-Bynum (+32)
    2. Farmar-Bryant-Ariza-Odom-Bynum (+25)
    3. Fisher-Bryant-Ariza-Odom-Gasol (+17)
    4. Fisher-Bryant-Walton-Odom-Gasol (+17)

    The obvious trend: Our best lineups have Odom with either Gasol or Bynum, but it really doesn’t matter which one.

    I think it’s unfair and premature to say that Drew doesn’t fit with the team (not all, but some are saying or implying this). The team does really well when he’s on the court. But, the team just happens to do best when Odom is the PF, no matter who the center is. That’s not Bynum’s fault, or Gasol’s. If anything it’s a credit to Odom.

    And having two all star level centers ensures that we can always have one of them out there — no other team can compete with that. At some point over the course of a game, our bigs will usually overwhelm the opposing team with length and skill, especially when things move to the benches. Some nights we’ll make our big run with Pau, some nights with Drew. Usually, Odom will be involved. But it’s a massive advantage to retain both Drew and Pau, even if it doesn’t always make sense to play them together. I trust Phil to figure out in the playoffs the best way to utilize the three bigs. Much of that will be team to team matchups.

    Now, if a brilliant all star point guard who fit in the triangle was suddenly available on the market, and if that team wanted Bynum, I’d contemplate the move. The decision would depend on the context, but that’s the only circumstance where I even think about moving Drew. We have a solid track record of the team winning games with our three-headed big monster, so there’s no reason to mess with it outside of a homerun deal.

  48. paco,
    No one is going to say Bynum is as fast as Gasol, but he does run the floor – just not as much.

    As I said above, I think it is losing the combination of Kobe and Bynum that has allowed us to become more of a fast-break team.

    It is Kobe, more so than Bynum, who always seems to walk the ball up the court to set up in a 1-on-1 situation. I love the guy, but I could really shoot him for this. Give us a little more Shannon/Farmar in attacking the defense early in the clock.

  49. Darius, I completely agree with that whole ‘location’ paragraph. I think I posted on this site a few weeks back that Bynum is in an unusual position for a player of his age and talent – a role player on a championship team. The fact that his role changes regularly doesn’t help matters. Making that kind of adjustment is obviously going to be difficult for a 23-year-old center with limited basketball experience.

    In any case, I still think it’s way too early to even consider trading Bynum. How much sample size do we have to show that he absolutely positively cannot mesh with Gasol? What happens if/when Gasol gets injured again? Is there a rule that says you can only keep 2 top-notch 7-footers on the roster if they complement each other perfectly?

  50. My apologies for trade specifics, I was just trying to throw out a never-happen kind of deal that you’d have to at least consider if a GM called up Kupchak and pitched it. I probably should have said “Bynum and a bag of Fritos for the Eastern Conference All-Star starting lineup, $12 million in cash, and a pony” to emphasize its not-ever-gonna-happen-ness.

  51. RE: 44 – Darius

    I actually think Bynum winning a title last year exacerbates the situation. Not only is he a young, talented player who takes winning for granted (love your Reggie Bush comparison), but he’s a young player who takes winning for granted and now has a championship ring.

    Kobe was guilty of this, too, on a grander scale. He wanted to be the man. Then he learned his lesson during the 2005-2007 dark ages, and is back to understanding how having a good team is important.

    So now, if you’re Bynum, you have a ring, you have an enormously ball-dominent player who requires at least 20 shots a game, and play next to a big man who replicates your skill-set, to a certain degree. So he’s jaking it and sulking when he’s not involved in the offense (by the way, how many times a game does Bynum set up his man perfectly for an alley-oop, only to have one of our ball-dominant, shoot first guards completely ignore him). I’m not excusing his frustrations, but I understand where he’s coming from.

    I think Bynum is thinking like Shawn Marion, at this point.

    Then again, one would hope, that when the playoffs role around, he’ll go back to playing team ball and help LA win another title.

  52. #45 – Paco, interesting point. But I think the fact we were playing the Spurs (at the end of a long trip) meant that Phil intentionally had the Lakers pushing the ball hard, trying to score in transition and tire them out.

    Bynum has been working harder this year at running the floor hard and getting early post position, especially pre-injuries.

    For all the frustrations of watching him grow, the only part that really bugs me is my perception that he tries less hard on D and on the boards when he’s not involved on O. But that’s probably just human nature, especially for bigs who need to be fed the ball.

  53. Bynum in his heart probably thinks he’s the most effective player on the team, especially on offensive. I’m sure he’s thinking to himself (as I would), Kobe will never accept being the 2nd and 3rd option and Gasol always whines about touches, and we got two pretty good players (Artest and Odom) who don’t want to stand around watching, so will I ever reach my potential with the Lakers?

    The answer, (and I’m sure Bynum knows this) is no

    It takes a rare bird for someone this young to give up on reaching his potential so he can be on a championship level team his whole career. And I don’t think Bynum is that bird…

    Look for a trade demand from Bynum the summer the Lakers don’t win a championship…

  54. Why does the conclusion have to be trade bynum? It seems, not just from the past two games but all season, that LO compliments Gasol better than Bynum does. But it’s not like Bynum + Gasol is a terrible thing.

    I’m good either way with starting bynum and gasol or gasol and odom. The thing I worry about if Bynum comes off the bench is all he’ll be doing is set pick and rolls for farmar all day.

    No trades. keep em both.

    Aaron, Gasol was damn good last year at the center position.

  55. I believe B. Bridges is on to something when talking about the effects of how Bynum was mentored when he first got to the league. Most young big men know how to rebound and block shots( D. Howard) its the offensive side of the ball that they must truly work on. Bynum came into the league and learned an array of low post moves, but still was raw on the defensive end( blocking shots and rebounding). Its as if he is the reverse of the normal big men when it comes to the evolution of his game. Maybe PJ should have brought in a D. Robinson, D. Rodman to teach AB the finer arts of boxing out, blocking shots, and using his wide frame on the defensive end( where LA really needs his contributions). AB is just doing what he was taught to do at the infant stage of his career(score). He must now learn how to be productive other than by putting the ball in the hoop. If he works on the defensive aspects as well as he worked on the offensive, he will become the player that all LA fans will want to see fr oyears to come.

  56. I don’t think Bynum’s role changes from game to game. His primary role is to focus on defense and rebounding. And on offense, his role is positioning himself within the triangle and then handling the opportunities appropriately. It’s the available opportunities that will change, not his role.

  57. So now, Bynum not a team player. He’d have to get the ball in hands enough times to truly disrupt and show he is not a team player. He is thinking like Shawn Marion? Where do you guys get this stuff? So are we trying to get into Andrew’s head the way the media type’s were doing Kobe? Are we over-analyzing everything he is doing and trying to draw some mystical conclusion as to where his head is at?

    Seriously. Why do we Laker fans always have to have heroes and villains? Kobe and Pau are the heroes and Andrew and Fish are the villains.

    I guess we need something to pass the time between games.

  58. This thread is hilarious. I have been hard on Bynum. Very hard. After I saw him no show in the playoffs last year and still whine about his touches, I lost any faith in the guy. The fact that he was injured has nothing to do with it. He complained about his role WHILE HE WAS INJURED, therefore, he is probably going to complain unless he is the front and center Diva. If you are gonna show and injured and complain about your role, you better at least play damn good.

    That said, this season Bynum has performed at about expectations. He can’t jump, or pass, but does create an offensive and defensive body that can bother other teams. The problem is it also bothers the Lakers just as much. I will give Bynum his props in games he played well – vs. Boston this year he seemed pretty focused – but he also is gonna hear it from me when he is a NO SHOW – both Denver and Cleveland games he got punked – and I don’t know his stats, I watched the game and watched him get punked. The game plan for those two teams was to puh him off the block and quick double, and he does not have the passing ability to break those doubles consistently.
    Can Bynum improve, sure. Even Mark Madsen became somewhat serviceable for Dallas, and somehow even guys like Samaki Walker lasted in this league for years. But can he be a multiple year All-Star and dominant Big – No. Once, ok. But after that, unless the fans just love him – and even Laker fans don’t love him – I doubt he becomes that guy.
    So let’s calm it down a little bit. Lower your expectations of Bynum – he’s not gonna be a superstar, but if he works and avoids the injury bug he won’t be a chump either.’
    As for this year, just let the Lakers play the games before too many judgments are made. It is not uncommon for a team to at some point cruise a little bit – we can’t always ride high people, and we still have a target on our backs. Oh, and hope this “knee swelling” doesn’t last too long. Once is a freak accident. Twice is concerning. But three years in a row means there is a pattern – if this sidelines Bynum for a long time, he won’t be in the league as long as you all predict – because he wont have any knees left to play on.

  59. What a thread indeed, this is out here at FB&G. It does seem to bad that some 50m+ is allocated to Kobe, Bynum and Gasol, three players are taking up most of the standard team available salary, and two of them do not seem to play with each other in a complementary style. I think it was Bill Bridges that said maybe the money could be allocated to a more efficient use within the team, but anyway I like two 7 footers around for the foreseeable future. We need the insurance for injuries like now, correct? What other team can say that they lose a 7-foot starter and do not lose a step while that player is out, in fact the Lakers seem to gain a step when that happens.

  60. wow. i never thought i would see kareem getting dinged for his mentoring of bynum. Defense is a lot harder than offense. How many defense stoppers do you know? How many offense greats do you know? I think people need to cut Bynum some slack. Give the kid at least a full playing year (or two – given that he’s improving every year) before you lay the hammer on him. How quickly some people forget Kwame Brown! Kareem was mentoring him too! How’s that guy doing?

  61. T. Rogers,
    Yes, yes, and yes!

    People need heroes and villains. If they aren’t there, they will create them. For the Lakers all you have to do is look at Shaq and Kobe 8 yrs ago.

    We are not very good at complex characters or various shadings of grey. We require simplicity in a complex world. Heck, Perry Mason was a famous lawyer for a reason — sorry, I’m showing my age.

    We think there are always answers to be had. I think that’s why we aren’t the movers and shakers, but the commentators.

  62. Darius, pls send me your addy.

    warrenweelim@yahoo.com

  63. t. rogers… whoa whoa whoa.

    my heroes list goes
    pau, sasha

    in the middle can’t decide good or evil is
    Kobe, Bynum, Farmar

    Villains
    Sasha’s contract.

  64. “But dismissing Bynum+Gasol is like getting rid of your uppercut to fight solely with the jab.”

    Perfect.

    Are we a more fluid, perhaps “better” (or with higher potential) with a Gasol-Odom pair? Most likely.

    But in many ways, Bynum is like our Shaq. I’m not talking about their skills, games, ages, or anything. But Shaq allows the Cavs to match up with the bigger elite teams in the league. Likewise, against certain teams (a minority, true, but mostly the elite teams) we need a presence in the paint like Drew. A natural center.

    It’s frustrating because it seems like we’re not reaching our potential. But while a Gasol-Odom pairing may do better against 95% of the league, Drew gives us a dimension that is needed against a select few.

  65. 35.

    “In some way, Kareem just was not the right mentor for him. An offensive-minded 7 footer with a mild demeanour and poor defensive instincts really shouldn’t be taught by an offensive-minded 7 footer with a mild demeanour and poor defensive instincts.”

    You must have only known the old Kareem from the late Showtime era, ’cause Kareem was a monster on D in his younger years.

    To set the record straight:

    Kareem averaged 16+ rpg 4 times and never averaged under 13 rpg until he entered his 30s.

    They didn’t keep bpg until Kareem’s5th year as a pro, but he still managed to record 4+ bpg twice and didn’t fall under 3 bpg until he reached age 33.

    The same is true of spg, but Kareem still managed to record 1.5+ spg twice and never fell under 1 spg until age 33.

    Finally, Kareem was NBA All-Defensive 1st Team 5 times and All-Defensive 2nd Team 6 times.

  66. My critique of Bynum isn’t personal or on whether he’s a good player or not. It’s pretty obvious he’s a very good player and one of the best under 23 players in the league.

    My critique is on whether A) Bynum will reach his full potential on the Lakers and B) whether the Lakers will reach their potential with Bynum on the team.

    This is especially the case because he will never be a 20 shots per game player on Kobe’s lakers…

  67. @Archon

    I agree with you that it may be difficult for him to reach his offensive potential this year with the triangle and with kobe.

    But if things pan out the way it seems to be pointing to, the triangle won’t be around next year because Phil will probably be gone. That may be an interesting thing for us next year if we don’t have Phil, maybe the offense will be better suited for the black hole? IDK.

    But I’d like to see it. The thing that worries me about Bynum is not the underachieving, but his knees. Every year since he’s been in, and even when he was in high school, he had knee problems. That scares me the most out of Bynum and is the only reason i would ever entertain a trade for him right now for the right parts.

  68. 56

    That’s his role when everyone is healthy. When Gasol is out or struggling, Bynum has to do more than focus on defense and rebounding. He’s suddenly the primary post scorer and has the block mostly to himself. Then he has to readjust when Gasol comes back. Gasol and Odom are experienced and mature enough to handle that kind of transition, but Bynum isn’t there yet.

  69. Bynum needs to be benched until he learns better team play. Chemistry can be developed in practices and something like a quarter and a half per game. With Gasol in the same lineup that is.
    If Odom kills it with anybody out there, split his time between playing with Gasol and Bynum. There you go.

    If he doesn’t mesh well with the team the next few years, he should still be the league’s Sixth Man for the next decade.

    Bench him not? Fine, then run plays where he is just a decoy/screener. Get him the hell out of the way or clear space and give him the ball. Right now, I

  70. 69) – Right. Andrew is only Laker player that has problems with “team play”. Farmar never averts the Triangle and goes for self. Shannon always passes the ball to the post man and never waves the screener off to go one on one. And the almighty Kobe never overshoots. Also, Pau Gasol didn’t make any comments to the point of Kobe overshooting.

    Yeah, if we could just get rid of that non-team playing Bynum the Lakers would walk to the title.

    (Oozing with sarcasm.)

  71. How about have Kobe and Bynum as the old Kobe/Shaq triangle with shooters space the floor(Sasha, Ron, and Fisher)

    then have LO and Pau come in with the second unit to run the fluid/run offense (Brown, farmar, Luke, )

    I know that would never happened but sound good in theory.

  72. I see…let’s bench our $15M player, at 22 yrs old, with soft hands and good moves around the basket – because he isn’t doing what the fans want on defense.

    Hummmmmmm!

    Let’s see now; Phil has 10 rings for what???

  73. I am starting to love T Rogers. The guy has some chutzpah. He also is right often. I haven’t heard Phil or any Laker player complain about Bynum dominating the ball too much. I have just heard the opposite from Phil this year begging his team to pass it down low to the big man. He is the best low post player on the team and our only true Center. In my estimation he is the 2nd best Center in the NBA and the best offensive Center in the league. He rebounds well and plays good defense. Why are we complaining about this guy again? Do you want to know why he doesn’t pass out of the post often???? It is because he is too busy taking and making easy shots around the basket. Can we talk about something that can actually be argued now?

  74. Ray,
    Gasol is great at the Center position (like the last 2 games) until he has to play the whole game against a real Center. Then he has serious problems and gets pushed around.

  75. i think the key to how we can be successful with Gasol, Bynum & Odom is how Odom plays off the bench to substitute Bynum in every games.

    It still confuses me why Odom cannot play like he is right now before.

    Odom is playing alongside Gasol plenty of time anyway when Bynum is healthy.
    But the result is less outstanding obviously compare to now.

    The starting lineup of Gasol and Bynum is what makes this team good against any teams.
    Odom’s play off the bench is the key to ensure that Lakers will be great above all teams.

    so i think the key is Odom.

  76. Aaron, what is your definition of a “real” center?

    You seem to ignore what Pau did against Dwight Howard in the Finals last year. Pau was able to score on Dwight and defend Dwight pretty well.

    Also, Reed’s post sums this whole debate over Bynum pretty tidily.

  77. Let me start off by saying that I commented on this site about the feasibility of trading Bynum for Chris Bosh. Kurt and I had a nice little discussion and then a couple weeks later Vascey broke the BS story. Though a team without Bynum would be a quick, well-built Ferrari, we would get our butts kicked everytime we ran into a Corvette (read Boston, Cleveland). Andrew gives us size and strength. Pau and Lamar are greyhounds. Andrew is a Clydesdale.

    Everytime he infuriates you, just think no one can guard him when motivated. Everytime he loafs just think he might one day become the next Shaq. He is a unique talent with no consistant effort or motivation. He is nothing more than a kid. Almost all kids act like this. Let him mature, bite your (our) tongues and let the boy play. Hopefully one day he will turn into the man child we all want him to be.

  78. Actually, Aaron, I believe you’re wrong. Kobe was asked about Drew’s offensive tendencies, and he very clearly said that Bynum has to learn the pecking order on offense. To me, that’s a not-so-veiled comment that Drew may hold the ball too much, and needs to be effective in other ways.

    Reed – that’s fantastic. I think this is pretty much impossible to do, but if you could find these numbers, I think it would close the debate once and for all:

    I’d like to know what our best 5-man lineups are against ‘large’ teams like the Celtics, and perhaps the Cavs with Shaq. If some of those best units have Drew, I think it shows (when combined with your numbers above) that this team is better with Odom/Gasol except with a few elite teams.

    Problem is those numbers are probably impossible to get, and because of injuries the sample size is small.

  79. Bynum will be an absolute beast.

    Again, look at the career numbers of Jermaine O’Neal, who also came directly out of high school as a big man.

    Portland traded J O’Neal, after his 4th season with low production, to the Pacers.

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/stats?playerId=615

    And he bloomed into a perennial All-Star and dominant big man for six seasons.

    What really leaps out at me is the number of minutes J O’Neal played when he finally “got it” during his first season for Indiana. 5076 Minutes.

    Bynum has played 4585 prior to this season. Something to keep in mind…

    Do I think that Bynum will ever be Shaq, Kareem, or Wilt? Of course not.

    But he can certainly be the best center in the league for the next 7 – 10 years. I suspect, barring injury, that he will be.

    (And for the record: Bynum’s knee injury last season was not a durability, agility, or athletic ability issue… Kobe slid into him under the basket. A freakish thing, and it happened when Andrew was looking up for a rebound. What are you gonna do?)

  80. Oh, just a note about the idea of a “Bynum and some stuff for Hinrich and some stuff” sort of trade…

    Hollinger makes a few nice points.

    http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/insider/columns/story?columnist=hollinger_john&page=PERDiem-100209

    “Overrated: Kirk Hinrich

    I get about 20 e-mail questions a day about Hinrich, which might make sense if he had made a basket at any time in the last month. He is making more than $9 million this season and is shooting 37.7 percent, leaving me scratching my head wondering why fans of other teams still clamor for him.

    It’s not like this season is some dramatic outlier — he’s shot 41.3 percent for his career. His PERs the past three seasons are 13.41, 13.97 and 10.24, and, I repeat, he makes an average salary of $9 million a year — not just this year, but next year, and the year after that, when he’s 31. Sure, he’s an accomplished wing defender, and that has value. But do you really want to kill your team’s cap/tax situation by paying this guy star money to shoot bricks and play defense when similar players can be found for a fraction of the price?”

  81. Aaron,

    I am going to assume you mean “usually” Gasol has a problem playing center for a whole game? Because he played pretty well against the spurs while being guarded by another “PF/C” … what’s his name… Duncan.

    And we saw him play center when we first got him, and when drew went out last year, so I don’t think your argument is valid. You may point to a few games and say he got bullied. And as Bynumite pointed out, he was matched up on defense against Dwight Howard last year during the finals for a majority of the game.

    I like Bynum. I think he should be a starter. I also think the starting unit would flow pretty well if it were odom instead. Let Bynum rest til he is fully healthy, like Gasol did, and we have 2 7 footers that will “get pushed around by cleveland” like so many people think.

  82. Great article and lots of great points by all. I agree with the observations that Bynum will pout if not getting the ball enough, and is offense focused too much. But he does fine altering shots and is much better than Shaq on pick and roll plays challenging the ball. But two points stated earlier I think are worth discussing further. One posted that Odom, Bynum, and Gasol essentially share the same real estate and none are great on the perimeter. The other was from 47. showing the plus minus of best lineups. What is startling is that all have Odom at PF. There is not enough discussion here I think on Odom’s play with focus on Kobe shots taken, Bynum’s work ethic, Gasol soft or not, etc… The reality is that although Odom can be very versatile he can be absolutely terrible on the wing. He settles down at the three point line, and that is pretty much it. Here is where PJ needs to step in more. Odom needs to cut to the basket. He needs to be at the elbow or top of key where his passing is best utilized. He basically needs to be anywhere but out at the three point line. Look at the Lakers best lineups and all have Odom at PF. As for hustle, Bynum should not take all the blame. In fact, Kobe was roasted by all for hitting 57% of his shots in Memphis game, and not getting more people involved. Please, there are times Kobe shoots too much but what a shitty example. In this game, our bigs (not just Bynum) were completely outplayed! Memphis had 3x as many offensive boards! Marc bested Pau. And yet these guys complain how many touches they got? How about hustling down to your spot on the floor? Fish complaining when he had zero assists zero rebounds and 2 points? What a joke. Kobe came to play busted his ass, and perhaps he should have been selfish on the last play instead of passing it! That road trip was terrible for Pau. We won inspite of him in boston. He and Bynum did terrible against the Cavs (again not running the older Shaq and Z out of the gym). I think overall the Lakers will be fine. But it is interesting the subliminal message that Phil has for Gasol and Bynum by continuing to play Kobe and to lesser extent Artest with a multitude of injuries. Neither guy plays through anything well. Look how many times Phil will say how Kobe’s leadership playing with injury is important for the team (basic answer for every pre and post game interview). Bynum though has a little of a mean streak to him as was shown dunking it on KG’s head. I think he will be fine. Basically start Gasol and Bynum together get Odom on the floor as PF with either player. Our real problem is not the bigs (as long as they are hustling) it is covering fast speedy PG’s and getting teams to respect our outside shooting which is pretty much nonexistent.

  83. Brian, good post but no offense, please use paragraphs.

  84. Warren – are you going to tell lakers12345 or whatever to use periods too?

  85. LOL I believe I skipped his post.

  86. Night all — time for another thread.

  87. Warren will do!

  88. #9, Aaron

    You are so right. It is amazing every time i see it, which is weird because i see it a lot. It is called the disease of now. People put much more weight on recent or immediate factors than they do on distant factors. This is a problem.

    Does anyone still remember the Celtics game? Bynum was the only player ON THE FLOOR who was playing, lol. This guy was a BEAST. Without him, no way we would have even come close to winning that game. PJ saw this, as it was Bynum and NOT soft Gasol who was in during crunch time.

    Does anyone still remember the 2008 playoffs? Does anyone remember Kobe coming through over and over? Does anyone remember Kobe winning his 4th championship as a laker?

    Now these guys are saying that Pau should be the focal point instead of Kobe. That bynum should be traded for a bag of chips and some home cooked soup. It is RIDICULOUS.

    First off, this team you saw in 2 games beat a Blazer team without 4 of its best players and its all-nba star, and an old and abused Spurs team which has no front line and is 10-11 away from home (yes, the Spurs are actually below .500 away from home). Anyway, this team you saw play these last 2 games was playing at its capacity. This is the BEST the Lakers can play without Kobe/Bynum. It would equate to a 1st round loss in the playoffs.

    The trick is to get your all-nba superstar, you know, the guy who is without doubt a top 10 all-time player in NBA history, Kobe, to join this team and continue playing at its maximum capacity. Not to mention your all-star level talent in Bynum. The trick is to ADD those two and still play at maximum capacity.

    Because with Kobe/Bynum, the maximum capacity will result in a championship ring. Without Kobe/Bynum, maximum capacity will result in a 1st round playoff loss. With Kobe, and without Bynum, maximum capacity is still not enough to win a championship. And without Kobe, well, you’re lost.

    Of course Kobe needs to play in the flow of the offense. MJ before and Lebron now, both need to play in the flow of the offense. There is no player, with the exception of Wilt and maybe Shaq, that can will a team to victory by themselves. And even those 2 are questionable, since Wilt doesn’t have many trophies, and Shaq couldn’t win without another all time top ten talent on his team like Kobe, or an all time 25-30 all time talent like Wade.

    For Kobe to play in the flow he needs to be in the facilitator role. Of course this is true. He shouldn’t shoot 35 shots. He should concentrate on a total game. As we saw in last years playoffs, when ball hog lebron james attempted to play 1 on 5 against the Magic, it doesn’t work.

    But for people to even think that this team is better without kobe or bynum is laughable and shouldn’t be taken seriously. If Bynum was healthy for the 07-08 finals, we would have won 2 championships in a row.

    People just don’t appreciate what they have when they have it. Bynum is an all-nba talent when he matures. He is 22 years old right now. I would rather start a team with Bynum than any other young big man in the league, assuming no injuries.

  89. 89# Great statiscal analysis of the situation. taking the mininum sample available is always the way te go, I’m with you all the way, we shouldn’t be discussing about AB, who’s right now an all effort, all around player, what we should be doing is looking for any team out there where we can dump the softy-whiny-crappy player from Spain that has no business playing at NBA when he should be playing at WNBA.

    Darius if you think this is to sarcastic or blunt don’t let it through cause maybe I was carried away and this was just a way to blow some steam after loosing a patient after 8 hours of operation.

  90. Mr. Bynamite,
    Gasol didn’t start at Center against dwight and when he did guard Howard he did a nice job but of course we were sending help every time Howard touched the ball. Remember how we were all praising Fish for trapping him?

    Mr. Snoopy,
    Actually… you are wrong. Kobe said there is a pecking order responding to a question regarding Drew getting enough touches. Kobe was saying Bynum is going to have to deal with being a 3rd option. He was actually saying the opposite of “Bynum needs to share the ball more.” He was saying Bynum is going to continue to get limited touches because he and Gasol need theirs.

    Ray,
    You seem like a smart basketball man. So it must be obvious to you that when Gasol matches up against “legitimate” Centers (Centers who are 7 ft plus with bulk ala Perkins or Ilgauskas) he struggles being that he is a Power Forward. Tim Duncan is a perfect example. He is a natural PF also. The Spurs have tried for 10 years to keep him there putting stiffs like Rasho Nasteravich at Center. This isn’t rocket science. Gasol plays Center great when he is playing teams that also have a PF playing out of position at Center. When we got him in ’08 Gasol was awesome until he went up against a true Center in the Finals. He was fantastic at Center when he was playing teams with PF’s at Center for them also… like Okur, Nene, and Duncan who we played that year in the west playoffs. All those guys are much better than Perkins but Pau got manhandled by the Celtic. Its not his fault… he isn’t a Center… he is a PF.

  91. @Kaveh,

    I really don’t think anyone is serious in these comment threads that the Lakers will win without Kobe. IF kobe loses more time past the all star break, the Lakers will be in trouble.

    I don’t think it really is a disease of now. We, including aaron, complained of the lack of ball movement, especially on the road trip. And the past two games, we saw games that had great ball movement, balanced scoring, and very good team basketball. It seemed to make everyone move and made the basketball very easy.

    No one on this site would be foolish enough to seriously suggest trading Kobe. But a lot of us understand that his greatest strength can sometimes be a detriment to the team. His desire is great. But he likes to do it his way.

    But we all see his talent, his athleticism, his ability to score and think that maybe it would be good for the team if he worked with the offense. Doing the cuts, easy open shots instead of going 1 on 5 (which you pointed out in your comment.)

    Of course we remember Kobe winning his 4th championship. But we also remember the 05-07 Years when Kobe took on too much and it led to nothing. We also remember that Kobe hasn’t won without an uber talented big man.

    The reason why a lot of people suggest that the offense should run through Pau is because Pau is the more willing passer within the flow of the offense. At least that’s why I suggest it. I honestly think it would make Kobe’s job easier. Get more open looks without expending too much energy trying to fight for space and elevate.

    Also, a reason why I think it would the offense would flow better with Lamar Odom in rather than Bynum is because it opens up a post position for Kobe. Remember the beginning of the year when he was posting up like crazy when Pau was hurt? It was Bynum and Kobe in the post. If you put Bynum with the second unit, you still have two extremely good post players in Pau and Kobe with Lamar bringing the ball up. I like Kobe in that role. It saves his legs, he doesn’t have to break down everyone, and his kobe shake fade away is more technically sound than jordan’s was. (Michael, not Farmar).

    I hope Kobe runs the offense more by swinging the ball. I enjoy watching basketball, and love the triangle because it’s so nice to watch (ball movement, cuts) and because i hate one on one basketball.

  92. Kaveh, if you did catch a glimpse of my proposal at the start of the day, you would know what I am advocating in all of this. To say that this team can win without Kobe is plain and simple stupid. And when I say win I mean going all the way.

    First off, Phil would not think twice on retiring if Kobe is not on board. These guys we have, Ron, Pau, Lamar these guys are good. Pau Gasol is VERY good. But to say these guys don’t need Kobe is out of the question.

    If you have caught my drift from the last 2 paragraphs, I never mentioned Bynum in there. If anyone here does not like a 20-10 legit center with 2 bpg please raise your hand and I’ll have Gilbert Arenas shoot you with a machine gun.

    The point is not about liking Bynum or not. I can guarantee you, 28 other teams would have Bynum start for their teams RIGHT NOW. I say that with a great deal of respect to the league’s only legitimate center in Yao Ming because he is injured, and the league’s best center in Dwight Howard.

    Andrew Bynum on a good day gives you 20-10. On his worst days he gives you solid contributions via his blocking and rebounding. If he is unleashed, without conflict or having to worry about someone else in the post getting touches, he COULD be 25-12-3 easily. After all, he was 22-11-2 for us playing beside Kobe (and without Pau).

    The problem about your post is that you are referring to the stereotype of “we don’t need Kobe and Bynum to win” which in fact is not the case of this post. If anything, Darius came up with this post because of 2 things:

    a. The Lakers won beautifully last night without the top 2 characters…

    b. The Lakers are shelling out effort whenever 2 of the best players are absent.

    So try to look through the post as more than just we don’t need Kobe… although you could really make a case that more than half of the fanbase is clamoring we don’t need Bynum.

  93. Kaveh,
    Completely agree with the post. I guess the only question I have is if Bynum will consistently be healthy or not. That does not mean you necessarily trade him but he has yet to prove he can play a majority of a season. I also think this does make him gun shy at times worrying about his knee holding up. You really see what he can do when he gets ticked off and is not thinking about it but at other times he still looks tentative.

  94. Kaveh,
    Wilt’s 76er team was considered one of the best ‘teams’ of the ’60s and had very respected players at each position. The Laker team had West and Goodrich and Hariston was a terrific rebounder also. Therefore, even Wilt – the player most likely to do it all himself – had to have good teammates.

  95. I didn’t read all 94 comments ahead of mine, so, excuse me if this has been said already….

    Although the offense is more fluid with Lamar and Pau together, Bynum’s importance is greatest against the teams that matter: Denver, Cleveland, Orlando, and Boston.

    His size and skill is something that none of those teams, outside of the Cavaliers, can match. Against all of these teams, his defense (when he’s playing it well) will be vital. Especially against Dwight & Orlando, and LeBron & Cleveland. Our ceiling on defense is much higher when Bynum is out there, engaged and wanting to play D.

    So, what do we prefer? Even if our offense isn’t the same with Bynum, it’s still not bad. It can still get better with him and Pau together. But it’s defense that will make us repeat. We don’t need to score 108 ppg like last year, if we hold teams to 95-96 ppg.

    it’s about the teams that matter, and how Bynum fills that role. Not the result of 1 1/2 games in February with him out. It’s not going to be easy this year. If anyone thinks we won it last year with minimal production form Bynum is underestimating what he did in the Finals, and what the other contenders can do this year.

  96. @91
    “We also remember that Kobe hasn’t won without an uber talented big man.”
    He also never had an uber talented perimeter man, and it usually takes two uber talented people to win it all.
    I like the idea of putting Bynum with the second unit a lot on paper but there is the issue on how well bynum would take not starting. Also, Odom doesn’t attack the rim as much when kobe is around, becoming a lot more perimeter oriented unfortunately.

    @92
    It’s safe to say everyone likes a 20-10 legit center with 2bpg. The problem is that if the 20 isn’t happening, Bynum’s energy, effort or whatever you want to call it, isn’t there. His focus also gets a shot when the 20 isn’t happening, leading to a few dumb fouls which coupled with official bias leads to the bench. What is implicit in not needing Bynum, I think or always thought it was, is trading him for someone more consistent. It’s a bit alarming when you have no idea what 2 of your top 6 players are bringing in a game in a night-in night-out basis

    @95
    Andrew Bynum, C 22 3-8 0-0 3-4 3 6 9 0 0 1 0 4 +9 9
    Andrew Bynum, C 16 2-5 0-0 1-1 0 1 1 2 0 2 1 5 0 5
    Andrew Bynum, C 23 2-6 0-0 0-1 2 2 4 1 1 0 1 2 -3 4
    Andrew Bynum, C 16 2-3 0-0 2-2 1 1 2 0 0 0 0 5 +8 6
    Andrew Bynum, C 17 3-11 0-0 0-1 4 1 5 0 1 0 1 5 -6 6
    unless you were counting hack-a-Howard as a solid contribution, those stats back exactly what I remember. A player looking for his shot first, a bit rusty(which is totally forgivable since bouncing back from a knee injury is no easy feat), foul-prone thanks to lack of focus+ a few unfair freebies for Howard and didn’t look for rebounds enough
    I totally agree with the second part though, in that this year we will need him to bring his A game against most other contenders. Just not sure what exactly was there to underestimate in last year’s Finals

  97. New Post up with some morning links to help in the waiting for the game tonight.

    http://www.forumblueandgold.com/2010/02/10/fast-break-thoughts-morning-links/

  98. 92, I would suggest trading Kobe. For one of either Lebron James or Kevin Durant.

    That’s it.

  99. This article and these comments are too easy on Bynum.

    The Lakers gave him his max contract so the expectation of Bynum need to adjust. He isn’t a rookie anymore. There is no excuse for him not being a beast on the boards. It sickens me when I see him letting shrimps box him out or when he tries to box others out using his arms. I also get frustrated with him being late on rotations and picking up stupid fouls. Where is his energy? Look at what Noah has been doing and even Dejuan Blair.

    Shoot, Dejuan Blair is like Rudy and Bynum is like O’hara (Vince Vaughn’s character). I can just imagine Bynum’s career being similar to O’hara’s:

    “You just summed up your entire sorry career here in one sentence! If you had a tenth of the heart of Ruettiger, you’d have made All-American by now! As it is, you just went from third team to the prep team! Get out of here!”

    All I want from Bynum is energy and some smart defense. That’s the maturity and initiative that he lacks. We haven’t seen it yet and my prediction is that we probably won’t ever.

  100. I think people get carried away with Bynum. It´s human nature to daydream about future glories while ignoring that your best years are NOW.

    Bynum tomorrow, might be great. His low effort level does not bode too well, but who knows.

    Bynum, now, is not, I repeat is not on a level with Gasol and/or Odom.

    There will be the occasional game where he outplays them. But for each of this games, there´s five where he´s outplayed.

    Christ, if Bynum had gone 20pp +, 19 rebouds, 5 blocks, 4 assist + for two consecutive games, while leading the team against two elite teams (Jazz were scorching hot before last night), people would be going BERSERK in the forums claiming him to be the next Shaq.

    But the one who did it is old “finesse-soft-whitey-nonmuscular” Gasol, half the forum ans writers downplay it or grudginly acknowledge that it was “good”. It is the present, and the present is never exciting… gimme some uncertain future.

    Lets be realistic, lets enjoy what we have. When Kobe and Gasol fade into the sunset, we will go through rebuilding an probably will struggle even get to the playoffs with Bynum (remember the bulls post-Jordan… or our beloved lakers post Kobe and pre-Gasol).

    And we all will reminisce the olden times… that we didn´t enjoy at the time because we took Kobe AND Gasol for granted

  101. Remember, he is still a young cat. He didnt choose to spend some time at the NCAA level (which would have done him good) and has had to develop his game throughout these last three years(as a kid in a big mans body, no less). Needless to say, the Kids got a substantial way to go. Its not a knock on his current game because his fundementals are there, but more than anything he just has to continue to put the work in (which I am sure that he’s doing)…I think in the end, Bynum will workout and many of us that have had our doubts will be all the happier for the team not giving up on him. It just takes time to come into our own…