Stray Bullets: As Bynum Goes

Whenever the Lakers are involved in any trade rumor, it's always Andrew Bynum that pops up as the trade bait.  Never mind the fact that 99% of these rumors are fabricated PR moves used to pressure another team into trading it's disgruntled superstar (especially when it's Chris Broussard breaking the news), it's always Drew.  Bill Simmons ranked Bynum 38th on his trade value list, mostly due to injury problems, but what other player in this league whom has yet to make even one All-Star game has a much trade value as Bynum?  

Every year, some team is said to entertain the thought of trading for Andrew Bynum.  The Lakers always say no.  Unfortunately many Lakers fans are too eager to entertain the thought of trading him.  Too many of us can be seduced by the big name superstar, and would gladly send the kid packing if it will net someone like Carmelo Anthony.  

Shhhhhhhh...I'm not one of those fans.  Why?  Because I don't believe that the Lakers win the past two Championships without Andrew.  Honestly.  Forget the stats.  His presence in both Finals can't be undervalued or overstated.  Do any of you really think the Lakers are able to handle Dwight Howard so easily without Bynum's presence?  Or completely neutralize Boston's front court just by being on the floor?

On Monday, C.A. wrote about Bynum "getting it."  About his maturation in not needing constant offensive involvement to impact the game:

This season, something has changed in Drew.  Whether it is because he joined his teammates late in the season and is building his way back up, whether its because he finally made a significant contribution to a champion and knows about the individual sacrifice required for that ultimate team prize, or whether it is simply the natural progression and maturity of a young dude figuring things out in life, Andrew Bynum is no longer affected by his involvement in the game.  He knows his job, and that job is to be the anchor of the defense.

And here's the thing, no matter how great Kobe is, or good Pau can be, or even consistent Lamar has been, nothing makes the Lakers more unbeatable than productive contribution from Andrew Bynum.  When healthy.  Isn't that always the case though?!?  Unfortunate, but true.  

This past Sunday against the Thunder, there was one play Andrew made that meant more to me, in regards to the Lakers' hopes of repeating, than anything else that's happened all year.  Check the video after the Jump.

Check the1:50  mark of these highlights:

 

It's that block on the perimeter against Serge Ibaka that gives me the most hope for a 3-Peat. It's because Drew looks engaged with his opponent, eager to defend, and willing to chase a loose ball. You know what that one play meant? That Andrew Bynum is feeling more comfortable than ever. Seven footers with a history of knee problems don't make plays like that unless they are at complete ease in the limits of their bodies.  That block signaled Andrew's lack of limitation.

When I first saw that highlight, I had to make sure it wasn't Ron Artest. Look at the way Drew crouches down in his stance, intently watches the ball, and his defenders actions, then explodes to block a jump shot from an ultra-athletic Ibaka. Bynum looked like a guard or forward.

If he's feeling that good, and plays like it, no team in the NBA has a chance in hell at beating the Lakers.  Go wave your finger at that, Serge.

  • C.A. also pointed out what Kobe's assist totals mean to the Lakers.  Apparently not so much.  Which underscores a point I've believed for years.  Assists are an overrated stat.  

    Not that assists themselves are overrated.  Just the way we measure them.  Passing well is something every championship caliber team does well, but assist stats alone don't explain any given player's role within his team's system or style.  Kobe may be the perfect example of that.
  • I'd love to see what impact some other perimeter superstars assists stats have on their respective teams.
  • Right now, the Lakers seem to be playing their best ball of the season yet.  They'll probably have a couple stinkers before the Playoffs, but I've seen enough so far to know they still have "it."  If you're one of those fans that still needs to see more, in order to feel completely comfortable, we can't be friends.  Get a life.  This team has won two championships in a row.  Show faith in that.
  • It makes me feel good that the Lakers stood pat during the flurry of trades and buy-outs.  They believe in this team, as we should too.  It's the other teams chasing us, and there's a good reason why.  Remember that.
  • So, the Heat signed Mike Bibby.  BFD.  It would have been a nice pick-up about six years ago.  
  • Supposedly, the Heat boast the best player in the NBA since '06, the best shooting guard in the NBA, and another top 10-15 player, but it's the PG's fault?  Call me crazy, but I thought LeBron James was the supposed next coming of Magic Johnson in Karl Malone's body?  But it's Carlos Arroyo's and Mario Chalmers.  Here I thought the help excuse was supposed to go out the window.
  • I'm sorry if I sound like a hater, but I can't help but chuckle.  I know every team has a duty to itself to get better, but the excuses for LeBron never stop.  

    If LeBron and 'em were as good as advertised, they should win with me at PG.  I can think of certain championship team that sports the worst PG in the NBA (statistically speaking).  That'd be the Lakers and Derek Fisher, who the Heat chased this summer, and stats had nothing to do with it.  It was about having what it takes to get it done.  Ultimately, that's aspect still lacking in South Beach.  Makes you think, huh?
  • According to CBS Sports, the Heat are 5-11 in games decided by five points or fewer.  I wonder if True Hoop has noticed this:

    Close losses have been a common occurrence for the Heat this season; they're now 5-11 in games decided by five points or fewer.

    "There's a reason why we keep losing these close games, so we've got to figure it out," Wade said. "It's not one thing you can point at -- no fingers pointed at all. It's something we have to figure out."

    James, not Wade, has been the Heat's primary ball handler, shooter, and distributor in late-game situations, although coming into the season, the knock on the two-time league MVP was that he was not a closer. Fair or not fair, questions will remain directed at James' ability to get big-time baskets late in games. James, a 34 percent 3-point shooter, also missed a potential game-tying trey in the closing seconds of a loss Feb. 24 at Chicago.

  • Okay, okay.  I'm done with the Heat bashing.  
  • You know one thing I love about Phil Jackson that can never be replaced?  The fact that he can and will attempt to put any player in his place.
The Los Angeles Times:

When told that someone in the media had read one of Ron Artest's tweets Monday night in which he said he understands the triangle offense now after spending two seasons in the system, Jackson couldn't help himself."Wasted time," Jackson said, laughing.

Perhaps, but Artest said Jackson was right that it takes about two years to learn how to fit into the triangle.

"He's pretty good with it," Jackson said. "He's probably a little better than Kobe [Bryant] is at it because Kobe ignores the offense."

 

Respect doesn't come easy in professional sports, and the biggest adjustment after Phil leaves will most likely be the weight of the coach's input.  Phil talks like that because he can.  Who else can say that and get away with it?  Then it not be even be an issue.  Not even the Shawfather has that kind of pull.

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