Kobe Bryant Must Realize Only Andrew Bynum Can Lead LA Lakers to NBA Finals

Hugh Ryan@@HughRyan_BRContributor IApril 16, 2012

Kobe Bryant must get Andrew Bynum the ball.
Kobe Bryant must get Andrew Bynum the ball.Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Kobe Bryant's Lakers are 4-1 without him.

However, with Bryant, Los Angeles can kiss its dreams for the NBA championship goodbye.

Don't misunderstand—Bryant is a great player. With 28 points per game, the NBA's second-best shooting guard is leading the league in scoring.

He's also shooting a putrid 43 percent from the field.

That wouldn't be quite as bad if he weren't taking 23 shots per game. The problem is that Bryant is taking 23 shots.

Maybe that's his way of paying homage to Michael Jordan, but I digress.

To put 23 shots into perspective, consider this: No other player in the NBA is averaging even 20 attempts—not Kevin Durant, not LeBron James, not Dwyane Wade.

Even volume scorers such as Carmelo Anthony, Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook take fewer than 20 shots.

Bryant's selfish play is suffocating his Lakers—it's undeniable.

If Bryant really wants to tie Jordan with a sixth ring, it's time for him to acknowledge what any rational student of the game already knows.

Andrew Bynum is the Lakers' best player. Apologies if that hurts your portly ego, Mr. Bryant, but it's the truth.

Andrew Bynum has been dominating his competition.
Andrew Bynum has been dominating his competition.Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Bryant has what is easily the most successful career among his peers. He's won five rings, winning the Finals MVP twice. He has a regular-season MVP award, he's an Olympic gold medalist, and we can go on and on.


We call him the Black Mamba for a reason. Bryant's scored 81 points in a single game. He's broken the heart of every NBA fan with his clutch shooting. 

But that was then. Now, Kobe is 33 years old, and it shows.

At a sprightly 24 years young, however, Bynum is scoring 18.6 points a game. He's doing it on a much more efficient 56 percent shooting. Bynum is simply the NBA's most dynamic center, especially when we're talking about offense. There are precisely zero teams that have an answer for this kid from New Jersey.

Sadly, Bryant doesn't get Bynum the ball enough for the Lakers to dominate the West as it appears they should on paper. Bynum gets only 13 shot attempts per game.

In addition, L.A. head coach Mike Brown is a problem. Even after watching his Cavaliers fall prematurely in several playoffs, Brown doesn't have a convincing offensive vision. 

That simply will not cut it, Coach.

In the Eastern Conference, gritty defense wins the day. On the other hand, the NBA's Western Conference teams are much more concerned with achieving a fluid offense. One would think that Brown's X's and O's would change accordingly, but Brown has changed nothing.

Coach Brown chats with Kobe Bryant.
Coach Brown chats with Kobe Bryant.Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Neither, therefore, will the results change.


Add to that the Lakers' weak bench, and it becomes clear the Lakers will struggle to beat the Spurs or Clippers. It also seems implausible for them to win a series against the Grizzlies or Thunder.

Maybe Brown is hiding his offensive plans. Perhaps Bryant will shoot the ball with consistency. It's even possible Bynum will get the number of shots appropriate for an NBA team's best player.

But if I'm a Laker fan, I wouldn't count on it. With Bryant, the Lakers just aren't good enough.