Andrew Bynum was drafted at the age of 17, which made him the youngest player to hear his name called by David Stern. The Lakers selected Bynum with the 10th overall pick in the 2005 NBA Draft, and they had high hopes for the youthful seven-footer. Bynum attended St. Joseph High School in New Jersey, and was a dominating force standing at seven feet with a seven foot-four wing-span. In his senior year at St. Joseph, Bynum averaged 22.0 ppg, 16.0 rpg and was named a 2005 McDonalds All-American.
The Lakers surprised many people by selecting the young man from high school, but the Buss family saw something special in the 17 year old. With Kareem Abdul-Jabbar set to tutor him, the front office was expecting the big man to be their defensive anchor for the future.
However, Bynum’s career in Los Angeles did not start off on the right foot and he did not receive respect from the veteran players. Kobe Bryant was caught on camera lambasting the young kid and the team for not trading Bynum for a more proven player in Jason Kidd.
Nevertheless, despite Kobe’s criticism of Bynum, the front office decided to stick with their prodigy.
Bynum’s rookie season did not go well, and he only played in 46 games for the Lakers. In the 2005-06 season, the young center averaged 1.6 ppg, 1.7 rpg and 7.3 minutes per game. Perhaps the highlight of the turbulent season for Bynum came during a MLK Day showcase versus Shaquille O’Neal and the Miami Heat. After getting posterized by the Big Diesel, Bynum returned the favor on the very next possession. By dunking on the almighty O’Neal, Bynum showed the coaching staff his toughness, and the determination to make a name for himself in the NBA.
As he became more accustomed to the NBA game, Andrew Bynum quickly emerged as one of the best young centers in the league. In the 2006-07 season, Bynum played in all 82 games and was a reliable player on the roster.
However, his break-out season came in the 2007-08 campaign. With the Lakers slowly making it back to the top of the NBA, young Andrew Bynum started to see an increase in his productivity. Bynum averaged 13.1 ppg, 10.2 rpg but saw his season come to a stop after suffering a major knee injury. The Lakers acquired Pau Gasol from the Memphis Grizzlies that same season, but because of the severity of the injury, Bynum missed out playing with Gasol and the Lakers in the 2008 NBA Finals.
In the next two seasons, Bynum emerged as a top tier NBA center and he was the anchor to the Lakers’ defense. With Bynum and Gasol both in the lineup, the Lakers had two seven footers who thwarted opponents from penetrating into the paint. Bynum added another dimension to the Lakers’ attack and he helped the squad win two NBA championships.
Although Bynum is often criticized for being “injury prone,” he has proven to come up big when the season is on the line. Bynum may not always be healthy during the regular season, but he has been in the lineup during the two latest championship runs. Titles are won in late June, not early December. The big man does not have to be in the lineup for the first 82 games, but he has shown his value to the team by his play in the post-season.