Los Angeles Lakers: Andrew Bynum Must Be Focal Point for Kobe to Win 6th Ring

Matt Shetler@@buccos12Correspondent IMay 7, 2012

DENVER, CO - MAY 06:  Andrew Bynum #17 of the Los Angeles Lakers is wrapped up by JaVale McGee #34 of the Denver Nuggets for a jump ball in Game Four of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs at Pepsi Center on May 6, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

If the Los Angeles Lakers learned anything during their trip to Denver over the past three days, it's the importance of All-Star center Andrew Bynum to any chances of making a championship run.

Bynum must be a focal point of the Lakers offense, but more importantly, he must be focused and active for Los Angeles to have a shot at a ring.

During their Game 4 win against the Denver Nuggets, we saw a much more active Bynum who seemed much more interested throughout the game. It was a much different Bynum than what everyone saw in the Game 3 loss, where he went scoreless in the first half.

While it's true that the Lakers must keep Bynum involved as getting productive inside play is going to lead to opposing defenses scrambling and better looks at the basket for everyone else on the perimeter, it's on Bynum just as much as it's on the rest of the Lakers.

Bynum has to come to play on a nightly basis and in the postseason can't take possessions off, let alone entire halves of games.

Bynum's reasoning for his poor play in Game 3 was failing to properly prepare for the game. That doesn't fly as he's a professional and needs to come ready to work on a nightly basis.

He did so in Game 4, showing much more aggression from the opening tip, scoring 11 points in the first half.

Bynum has to be aggressive and demanding of the ball and, in turn, the Lakers must keep him involved early or it seems like he loses interest quickly.

When Bynum's active for four quarters, the rest of the team feeds off his energy. As a result, Los Angeles scored 28 second-chance points, the most they scored in a playoff game since 2003.

While Kobe Bryant is ultimately going to do a majority of the scoring damage for the Lakers, it's Bynum who needs to do all of the dirty work underneath.

If he's not actively involved in the offense early, Bynum will likely disappear throughout big stretches during the rest of the postseason.

That's something the Lakers simply can't afford given the tougher competition they could likely face the rest of the postseason in the Oklahoma City Thunder and the San Antonio Spurs. Without an active and dominant Bynum, the Lakers' chances of making a serious title run decrease dramatically.