Philadelphia 76ers center Andrew Bynum continues to garner attention with his hair styles more so than his basketball contributions as of late. Fortunately, the eccentric center may have made a interesting observation that may have provided insight into the Los Angeles Lakers’ struggles.
The eccentric seven-foot center for the 76ers sat court side as the Lakers were able to score their second straight win in Philly (111-98). The Lakers are now 11-14, and look to carry some momentum into the holiday break. However, the Lakers win wasn’t the biggest headline out of this game. A very candid and honest Bynum spoke out about his lack of development playing with Kobe Bryant during his tenure with the Lakers.
(per ESPN’s Dave McMenamin)
“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,” Bynum told a group of L.A. reporters before the Lakers played the Sixers on Sunday. “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.”
Bynum is correct. Bryant’s ball-hog antics and ability to
create (force) shots leads little time for players around him to develop. Since 2004, no player has averaged over 20 points per game other than Bryant. Every single player who has played aside Kobe had a slight drop in field goal attempts, points per game, and touches compared to their former teams. Pau Gasol nearly averaged 21 points a game for the Memphis Grizzles before being traded to the Lakers, in where he averages 17. Metta World Peace saw a six-point drop in his average in his first season with the Lakers. Bynum averaged a career-high 18.7 points per game last year, but made critical comments about his lack of touches throughout last season.
Where Bynum is slightly wrong, is that the Kobe brand of basketball is not necessarily a bad brand. The Lakers have won 5 championships in the Kobe era, more or less with his ball-dominant style of playing. In a season where center Dwight Howard appears to be the heir apparent to the Lakers throne, he only averages about 10 – 15 touches a game, compared to 30-40 for Bryant. However, coach Mike D’Antoni’s offensive sets will only result in less opportunities for Howard to get involve in the offense, and for Bryant to lead the league in scoring in his 17th season.
Considering his injury-riddled tenure with the Lakers, Bynum’s comments come at an interesting time of his career. We saw glimpses and flashes of how great he could be, but has never had the durability or consistency to back it up. Legendary center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar questioned his work ethic and ability to take direction. He’s only had one breakout season in his seven-year career. Until he gets on the court, and fulfills his potential, his comments will get lost in his incredibly unfashionable hairstyles and inability to put everything together in an 82-game season.