The Los Angeles Lakers faced the impossible task of replacing giant Shaquille O’Neal at center.
The Lakers’ decided the best idea for them was to draft a huge center right out of high school, Andrew Bynum, and he gave them the size that they needed.
His numbers in high school were impressive as he had averages of 5 blocks, 16 rebounds and 22 points. Those numbers didn’t translate to the NBA right away. After being selected with pick 10 of the 2003 draft, out of St. Joseph High School of New Jersey, Bynum didn’t get a lot of playing time and when he did his numbers were not good.
He was the equivalent of a college freshman so he had an excuse for 40% shooting from the field and only 1.6 points per game. In the playoffs that year, the Lakers only gave Bynum 2 minutes of playing time. The Lakers didn’t need to wait long to see him improve.
Bynum’s second season showed everyone that the Lakers didn’t reach in the draft, they found a steal. Bynum blocked 1.6 shots per game, his field goal percentage was over 55% and his points average was 7.8.
Since then, Andrew Bynum has been a regular double-double player when he has gotten enough minutes. With Odom on the bench to use as well, Bynum often doesn’t get the playing time that other star centers around the NBA do.
30 minutes is a lot for Bynum, he often averages around 28 minutes, so imagine how great his stats would be if he was playing 38 minutes a game. He would not only be in contention for the All-NBA teams, Bynum could be competing with Orlando’s Dwight Howard as the best center in the NBA.
Bynum gives the Lakers around 15 points and 10 rebounds a game, plus a couple of blocks. His field goal percentage is always around the top of the NBA, often 57% although in season 2008 he shot the ball at an astonishing 64% from the field. He isn’t bad for a center at the foul line, close to 70% shooting there.
One great asset of Bynum is not only his height, but his reach. On ESPN, their Sports Science show had a segment that looked at how the Lakers can cover nearly all of the two-point area with Bynum and Pau Gasol on the floor.
Something that shows how important Andrew Bynum is to the LA Lakers is the amount of trade talk about him but he always stays. There has been talk over the years that Bynum could be the big piece of a trade package for the Lakers to land Chris Bosh from Toronto, Chris Paul from New Orleans or Carmelo Anthony from Denver.
The Lakers have yet to pull the trigger on a blockbuster deal like that, happy to keep Bynum as his size is an important part of their contending for, and winning, NBA championships.
Andrew Bynum is the latest in a long line of star centres to have played for the Lakers. It started with George Mikan, then it was Wilt Chamberlain followed by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Vlade Divac was good too, Shquille O’Neal was a dominating superstar and now Bynum is their star big-man.