The Andrew Bynum story is one of the greatest tragedies in NBA history.
He was once hailed as the next big man of the game after being drafted right out of high school by the Los Angeles Lakers back in 2005. He was the youngest player to play in an NBA game. He was a former All-Star and won two titles with the Lakers in 2009 and 2010. He has played eight seasons in the NBA, and is only 26 years old, but then there is a twist.
He has played a complete season only once in eight years, and has endured multiple knee injuries and surgeries. He even missed the entire 2012-2013 season due recurring knee issues. Bynum has been pretty much inactive this season while with the Cleveland Cavaliers before he was traded to the Chicago Bulls in the Luol Deng trade. The Bulls released him and the Indiana Pacers picked him up in February, hoping to land a ticket and win the lottery.
A healthy Andrew Bynum was a deep well for points, rebounds and blocks. Bynum was capable of producing 20-20 games. He’s always had a high field goal percentage because he earns his living near the rim. Forget that three pointer in 2012 that started his downfall with the Lakers, that was an exception. His career averages are 11.5 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game while shooting at a remarkably high .557 from the field.
He ended the 2011-2012 season with a PER of 23.00, which was good for 10th best in the entire NBA. He was talked about in the same breath as Dwight Howard two years ago, but what a difference two years can make.
When Bynum was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers, in a blockbuster deal that landed DH12 in LA, his knees had worsened. After treatment for arthritis in both knees, he underwent another arthroscopic surgery on both of them, and that ended his season.
Prior to that, Andrew Bynum had a stretch of four seasons where he had various knee injuries and surgeries. So when Bynum went to the Cavs this season, he was already deemed as damaged goods that was still worth a try. Apparently, that’s what the Pacers had in mind too.
The Pacers are still ahead of the Miami Heat for the best record in the East, although the ageless San Antonio Spurs now have the best overall record in the league. The NBA’s best record is still a toss-up between the Indiana Pacers, Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs, but barring any major collapse, which is unlikely, the Pacers will be one of the top seeds in the Playoffs.
The Pacers are bannered by the new star of the NBA, Paul George. He is ably assisted by Roy Hibbert, David West, Lance Stephenson, George Hill, Evan Turner and other contributing veterans. The team is deemed complete and playoff ready, considering that the nucleus of last year’s NBA conference finalists is still intact.
That being said, when Andrew Bynum was released by the Bulls for cap reasons, the Pacers were more than happy to pick him up as a bargain. It was a great gamble by the great Larry Bird. He wasn’t looking for a long term relationship, Bird just wanted extra bullets for the title run.
Bynum is not completely healthy, and even the Pacers admit it.
According to head coach Frank Vogel:
”His conditioning is pretty good. He’s not ready to play 40 minutes a game, but we’re excited to see him play with our guys.”
In his first game with the team he tallied 8 points and 10 rebounds in 16 minutes of action. The numbers were good, but the Pacers played in better spirits after losing four in a row. It was a good showing for Bynum, but can he play back to back games? And how long will those knees hold up?
Andrew Bynum is much more of a gamble to fantasy basketball team owners than to the Indiana Pacers. At least for the Pacers, the Heat didn’t get him.
Coach Frank Vogel said of Bynum:
“I think he can give us a little bit of an emotional jolt with us losing four in a row, combined with (backup center) Ian (Mahinmi) being banged up. Ian probably wouldn’t be able to play if we needed him to play (due to a bruised rib).”
The Pacers aren’t really looking for Bynum’s numbers. The guy’s been in the playoffs the first six years of his career. He’s played 74 playoff games and has won two titles with the Lakers. He was a vital contributor for the Lakers. His experience is beyond statistics, that’s the main reason Indiana brought him in. The playoffs are nearing and Indiana needed an experienced veteran to add to their resume. The Pacers are a complete team, anything that Bynum does is a bonus.
If he’s healthy, he’s a huge bonus. Bynum’s always been a big contributor in points, rebounds and field goal percentage. If we look at his last years with the Lakers, he’s also been a contributor in blocked shots, but then again, he’s Andrew Bynum with the brittle knees.
Fantasy basketball owners cannot gamble and rely on Bynum for stats. The Pacers have Roy Hibbert averaging 30 minutes per game this season. His back up Ian Mahinmi plays 16.1 minutes per game. Talent wise, Andrew Bynum is better than both, but Hibbert’s the All-Star and obviously the much better defender. So forget 30 minutes of action, because it’s Hibbert’s team. Bynum’s eons ahead of Mahinmi in talent and numbers, but it’s unlikely he’ll get all his minutes given how reliable of a backup center Mahinmi has been so far.
A healthy Andrew Bynum gets a couple of minutes off Roy Hibbert and Ian Mahinmi. That would be around 10 minutes per game, but it’s unsure if Indiana will reshape their offense to include Bynum as an option. They’ve got more firepower than most teams have even without Bynum. So it’s obvious that even if he gets playing time, we won’t see the Andrew Bynum All-Star numbers again, at least not this season.