Is Andrew Bynum The Laker's Franchise Player of The Future


Andrew Bynum has been a hot topic as of late. He has played extremely well, as our third fiddle none-the-less, ever since he returned to the starting lineup. The Lakers have gone 12-3 since then, with loses coming at the hands of the "always-tough-against-the-Lakers" Memphis Grizzlies, the "then-hot" LA Clippers & the "we're-coming-out-of-our-shooting-slump-tonight" Dallas Mavericks. (Gil, please don't put that sentence in the excuse thread, LOL) He has averaged nearly 14 points, 9 rebounds & 2 blocks a game, while shooting 59.4% from the field and 79% from the free throw line. This doesn't include the numerous amounts of SOBOA's Bynum has altered over that time period. (props to JA Adande for coming up with SOBOA - "shots over Bynum's out-stretched arms") 

Having been a member of SS&R for over a year now, there seems to be two opinions about Andrew Bynum. Two very different, and very strong opinions about the Lakers starting center.

Opinion A states that Bynum is an injury-plagued player who will never stay healthy for an entire season. Most of the time, this opinion is followed by a "Trade Bynum for {fill in the blank}" statement. They say that he has never averaged more than 15 points or 10 rebounds in a single season. They say he will never be close to what Shaq or Kareem or Wilt or any of the dominant Laker centers were. They could average 30 points and 15 rebounds in their sleep. He will never be able to put up those kinds of numbers.

Opinion B states that Bynum is only 23 years old and full of Superstar potential. Thay say he is on a team with 2 other superstars and that he is the 3rd option on most offensive sets. they say he doesn't need to put up crazy numbers because they aren't needed from him. They say that an athletic 7 footer is too rare to just trade away. Especially one that is so young. He has got another 15+ years in the league and there is no way the Lakers can part with him now.

So, which side is right. Well, as is the case in most sports, neither of them. They are opinions, not facts. Only time will tell which on is true. The Lakers gambled on the 17 year old in the 2005 NBA draft. They selected him with the 10th overall pick. He was a raw, skinny high school kid.  But everyone said he had potential. He averaged 22 points, 16 rebounds and 6 blocks a game as a senior in high school. The potential was there. Almost everyone still says that that potential still exists.

But when does potential disappear? When are you able to give up on a player, because they never reached the heights you thought they would. Well, for those Laker fans that believe in Opinion B, it is entirely too soon. For those that believe in Opinion A, the potential has come and gone with his knees.

Bynum was drafted to be built up into the Lakers number 2 option, along side Kobe Bryant. This was starting to come to fruition during the 2007-08 season. Bynum was putting up very good numbers for a 20 year old, who was going into his third year as a pro. He started off a little slow, but up until his season-ending injury, Bynum was putting up very solid numbers across the board. Over his last 15 games before his injury, he averaged 18 points, 12 rebounds & 2.5 blocks a game, while shooting 75% from the field. Pretty beastly numbers for a 20 year old playing in the NBA.

Of course, we all know Bynum got hurt, Mitch pulled a rabbit out of a hat, and traded for Pau Gasol. Pau was a bonified all-star and exceptional #2 option to have behind Kobe Bryant. Bynum immediately became the #3 option, as Pau was already a proven player. Bynum didn't return the rest of the season. If he had been able to, the Lakers would have had a much better opportunity of beating the Celtics in the 2008 NBA Finals. The Lakers have never lost a playoff series with Bynum as their starting center.

Can Bynum's health be relied upon? After the last few years, it can't. I mean, he's no Greg Oden, but the last couple years have not gone well for Bynum and his knees. But the man is trying his hardest to make us believe all his past injuries were flukes. From my on-line research, he was never injured in high school. And two of his knee problems came from players sliding into him while on the court. I have never seen anybody else in the NBA get injured by having someone slide into their knees. (I could definently be wrong on that, but I cant recall anything) It's happened to Andrew, not once, but twice.

Since Bynum has entered the league, he has gone from a frail 270 pound kid who wasn't sure what to do with his body, to a bulky 285 pound confident offensive and defensive force in the paint. His presence turns the Lakers into a different team. Because of Andrew, Pau is able to pick apart other team's power forwards, and Odom is able to lead the bench squad. But Bynum's transfomation didn't happen overnight, as you all know. He has put in plenty of work in the offseason to make this happen. (Which is a complete 180, compared to the last dominant big man we had) Don't believe me, check out the difference in the pictures below:

2005 - 2006

2010 - 2011

Most of his growth probably came from just getting older and maturing, as he did go from a teenager to a young man. But he has worked hard in the weight room, and it has shown. His neck, his shoulders, his chest, his arms........ hell, even his legs looked bigger compared to the other pictures that i saw. He's no Dwight Howard as far as physique goes (sorry SCG), but the man has put on plenty of muscle onto his already tall frame.

With this current Lakers team, there is no way we can determine if Andrew will be able to carry this team on his back in the future. Kobe still has that job, and Pau is still our number 2 on offense. To put it simply, Andrew doesn't have to. At this moment in Laker history, all we need Andrew to do is rebound, put in occasional shots, and be a defensive force in the paint.

Even with Pau and the "rebound-gobbling" Lamar Odom on his team, Andrew is still able to hold his own on the glass. And for a number 3 option on offense, he is pretty consistent at getting his points every night. His numbers have decreased from that stellar run he had in the 2007-08 season before the Pau Gasol trade, but that should be expected with two superstars on his team.

If Kobe or Pau were not there, could Andrew step up and be the dominant center we want him to be?  I think we all hope he could, but we wont know until it actually happens. That wont be necessary for a while, as both Kobe and Pau are both in their ealry thirties. But, the time will come when A-Bizzle has to step up and show this Lakers organization that he is the center that we always hoped he could be.

I'm not hear to try and convince you that Opinion A is right or that Opinion B is right. Nobody knows. Only time will tell. But with a healthy Bynum in the lineup, the Lakers are an almost unbeatable team. As I stated earlier in the article, the Lakers have never lost in the playoffs, with Bynum in the starting lineup. The 1-2-3 punch of Kobe, Pau and Bynum is a pretty remarkable thing to have. Most teams in the league would die to have our #3 guy, as their franchise player.

So, when we get to the Kobe & Pau twilight years, which is still another 5-6 years down the road BTW, will Andrew Bynum be our centerpiece? He will still be in his 20's, with many more years ahead of him. Will he be able to carry this Lakers team onto future titles. Only time, and his knees, will determine that. For all of us at SS&R, let's hope so.

That way, neither Opinion A nor Opinion B will matter. We will all be too ecstatic that he became the player we always hoped he would become.

Log In Sign Up

Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Silver Screen and Roll

You must be a member of Silver Screen and Roll to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Silver Screen and Roll. You should read them.

Join Silver Screen and Roll

You must be a member of Silver Screen and Roll to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Silver Screen and Roll. You should read them.




Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.