You've heard the cliche, "Defense wins championships." For the Lakers past two seasons, the expression has proven to be true as they transitioned from an offensive powerhouse to a defensive juggernaut en route to two straight cuhkies. As good as we've seen them play on defense, this team can be even better on that end than before. The reason why, and the reason they eventually shut down the Hornets, was the presence of a confident Andrew Bynum.
Although Kobe Bryant's highlight dunk on Emeka Okafor eventually infused life into the Lakers for good, it was Andrew Bynum's work on both ends of the floor that picked up the slack in a series in which Pau Gasol was a letdown. Not only was his defense expert, but he was a beast on the offensive end. It's becoming quite the treat watching his forceful, yet patient, post moves crush opponents. Once upon a time Drew was a blackhole. Toss him the ball and he was shooting for sure, and it didn't seem that passing was even an option. But as he's taken on the role as patient enforcer, every aspect of the the game has come so easy to him. His passing is becoming as deadly as any "Bynum smash" could be, to the point where I'm not sure if Pau necessarily needs to be the second option on offense.
Andrew's stats for the series:
15.2 points, 10.3 rebounds, 1.8 blocks per game in 31.0 minutes per game. He shot 35-of-63 for 55.6% from the field. He shot 21-of-27 from he free throw line for 77.8%.
Here's the most important stat regarding Andrew's impact, per Actuarially Sound:
The Lakers gave up less than a point per possession (0.99) when he was on the floor (basically a top 5 defense). When he was on the bench though the Lakers gave up 1.11 points per possession, the equivalent of a bottom 5 defense. No other player had a similar impact.
There you have it. 'Nuff said. He's carrying the Lakers defense, and you know what they say. Because of that Andrew Bynum narrowly edges out the great Kobe Bryant for our Player of the Series.