As you may have heard, Andrew Bynum recently had a few controversial remarks about his playing days with Kobe Bryant. According to ESPN’S Dave McMenamin, this is what he had to say about playing alongside the Black Mamba:
“I thought it really helped me a lot obviously at first, because he draws so much attention it’s hard for guys to double team and key on you, so it helped me tremendously. Later, I felt I was able to get the ball more and do more things with the ball, so I could definitely see how it could stunt growth.”
Kobe Bryant actually agreed with Bynum and had this to say when informed of the comments:
“For sure, because when you’re playing with me you obviously have to sacrifice something. Same thing with me and Shaq. You kind of off-set each other to a certain extent. So, I mean, that’s true. When he gets back and he’s healthy, he’ll come out here and he’ll be the focal point of their attack and he’ll be getting the ball more and you’ll see big games from him more consistently.”
I don’t particularly agree with this because I feel that Bynum’s injuries stunted his growth more than anything, and the season in which he was actually relatively healthy, he made his first All-Star appearance and averaged 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds. Lakers Nation’s own Andrew Ungvari had his own thoughts on what stunted Bynum’s growth as well.
However, what Kobe said was intriguing to me. As stated above, he noted that he and Shaquille O’Neal had to learn to play together. However, it could be interpreted to meaning that Shaq had to adjust to him, but in reality, he likely meant the opposite. Shaq actually averaged between 18.3 and 21.1 shot attempts during the duo’s championship run (2000-2002) while Kobe averaged between 17.9 and 22.2 attempts during the same time.
In that sense, there were enough shots to go around for the two stars. However, this season’s supporting cast–or at least the supporting starting lineup–is arguably much better than the surrounding starting lineup those Lakers had.
Additionally, Shaq was a dominant offensive force from the beginning, was in his prime at the time. and his growth never seemed stunted due to playing next to Kobe Bryant. Kobe’s growth as an individual scorer likely was somewhat stunted however, at least during his first few seasons in the league.
Regardless, what stuck out to me the most was the present situation with Dwight Howard. Bynum had advice for Dwight Howard, which came as follows:
“Dwight’s a great player, but he’s going to have to get accustomed to playing with Kobe (Bryant) and not touching the ball every single play.”
This much is true, but exactly how much should/will Howard really have to adjust? Currently, Howard is averaging 11.2 field goal attempts per game. If Kobe was able to coexist with a dominant center averaging–at the lowest time between the pairing, in 2004–14.1 attempts, why can’t Howard get closer to the 13.4 attempts he was getting last season?
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