Andrew Bynum has the skill level and physical ability to be a 20/10 machine and a perennial All-Star. A seven footer with agile footwork, charmin soft hands, and a sweet shooting touch around the rim who also has the length to be a dominant rebounder and shot blocker. Everyone saw this on display at the beginning of the 2009 season when, with Gasol on the shelf, Bynum came out of the blocks tearing up the league during the first month of play. The caveat, of course, is the injury history.
Bynum has missed over a 100 regular season games since the beginning of 2007. During that same span he’s had multiple knee operations and every time he gets tripped up or hits the deck or even bends over to tie his shoe, Lakers fans anxiously hold their breath.
But we need to step back and forget for a moment about the injuries. The kid is twenty three years old. Twenty three! And bodies that young have a funny way of recovering better than expected. It’s very conceivable that Bynum could go a good five or six years without another serious operation. And if that’s the case the Lakers ought to be in pretty good shape.
Still, while simply avoiding an injury would be nice the Lakers are going to need more than just a healthy Andrew Bynum making a token contribution during this year’s playoff run if they expect to end up at the top of the heap. This will be the year where Drew needs to become a real factor. A force. Perhaps even… a dominant big man.
Bynum needs to be a player who the Lakers can count on for key post ups down the stretch of ball games. A player who becomes the focal point of opposing game planning. A player who not only starts the games but also finishes them. And not because he has a fat contract but because he’s earned it.
This needs to happen not just because his teammates are getting just a bit long in the tooth, but also because the league has gotten better. The cream of the crop has gotten creamier.
Boston, despite some injury issues, looks rejuvenated and inspired. Miami is finally figuring it out with the big three. And San Antonio, after adding a few supplemental pieces over the summer, seems to have located the fountain of youth and may actually win the top seed in the west.
For years now many Lakers fans have been waiting on Andrew Bynum. Waiting not only for flashes of brilliance but rather for a sustained level of excellence from their injury prone big man. And they’re waiting with good reason, because there’s no doubting that with the skills he possess, Andrew Bynum deserves to be talked about as the future of the Los Angeles Lakers. The thing is, the future is now.