Los Angeles Lakers all-star center Andrew Bynum is a fascinating character. Aside from his Darryl from The Office-esque permed fro, candid interviews, and channeling his Zen after attempting a three in a game last year, Bynum recently made comments about how playing alongside Kobe Bryant stunted his own development as a productive basketball player. What he forgot to admit is that his injuries and demeanor is actually stunting his own current Philadelphia 76ers team development.
The 76ers are currently 12-12, 4th place in a weak Atlantic Division. Third-year PG Jrue Holiday is having a breakout season, leading the team in scoring with 18.6 points per game, but lacks a consistently complimentary player. Jason Richardson, Evan Turner, and Thaddeus Young are solid, but don’t provide any size or depth to this roster. The 76ers are a paltry 26th in the NBA in team ppg, 21st in rebounding, and 19th in assists. Does size matter? 7 ft center Spencer Hawes is averaging a measly five rebounds per game, and his back-up is Kwame Brown…
Though we divert most of our attention to the Lakers’ struggles, the summer blockbuster three-way trade for stars Dwight Howard, Bynum, and swingman Andre Iguodala have yet to pay any highly projected dividends for all teams involved. The Lakers are 11-14 and are the most scrutinized underachieving team in the league. The Denver Nuggets are modest 13-12, but “leader” Iguodala is not leading the team in any statistical category this year, averaging 13.6 points per game for the year. The Orlando Magic are 11-13, technically a better record than the Lakers. As for the Sixers, despite their struggles, ironically, they have the most upside if Bynum is able to come back and restore some size and depth to a team that badly needs it.
We can try to blame the Sixers’ slow start on Bynum’s offseason vacations, bowling on an injured knee, or his permed conk fro. The truth is, Bynum actually is the most important piece of the puzzle in order for them to contend for a playoff spot. Bynum’s defensive presence and skill set would be welcomed to a team marred by mediocrity and inconsistency for the past ten years. Bynum could really grow
his hair into the dominant center basketball experts have predicted since he was 17 years old.
How’s that for stunting someone’s development?
Hair Don’t Lie.