Lakers Rumors: The Foolproof Argument for Keeping Andrew Bynum in Lakerland

Grant Rindner@grantrindnerContributor IIIJuly 6, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 12:  Andrew Bynum #17 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts in the fourth quarter while taking on the Denver Nuggets in Game Seven of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs on May 12, 2012 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. 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 Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

For the early part of his career, Andrew Bynum was one of the more frustrating players to watch in the NBA.

He would show glimpses of his tremendous potential and look like a dominant center for stretches, and then completely disappear on the court, showcase his immaturity or suffer another injury.

The seven-footer was a source of both pride and frustration for Los Angeles fans, but finally, last season, his play on the court matched his physical gifts.

Fully healthy for the first time in years, Bynum cut down on foul trouble and was able to stay on the court and make a major impact for the Lakers.

He averaged 18.7 points, 11.8 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.9 blocks per game while shooting 55.8 percent from the field last season, numbers that easily cemented him as a top three center in this league.

He became the Western Conference's starting All-Star center and appears poised to fill that role for a long time to come.

However, despite his breakout campaign, there is still talk of the Lakers dealing Andrew Bynum this offseason. With Dwight Howard's tenure in Orlando likely over and the Nets possessing little cap space, L.A. has again emerged as a potential landing spot for the three-time Defensive Player of the Year, but while Howard is undoubtedly a great player, the team simply must roll the dice with Bynum.

He's been in the league for seven years, so it's easy to forget that Bynum is still only 24. Sure, he has dealt with more than his share of injuries, but his performance last season and in the playoffs proves that his knee troubles have not slowed down his game or reduced his effectiveness.

As a scorer, Bynum is actually much more polished than Dwight Howard. He has a solid set of low-post moves and can score with his back to the basket easily. He does not rely merely on overpowering his opponent, and has even shown that he can hit a mid-range shot when necessary.


Though he shouldn't be taking threes, Bynum is a decent shooter and can actually capitalize on how often he ends up on the free-throw line. He shot 69.2 percent from the charity stripe in the regular season, and upped that to 78.3 percent in the postseason.

With Steve Nash now in tow, Bynum should be an even better scoring option. He is absolutely unstoppable rolling to the basket and has never played with an elite point guard who can maximize his effectiveness and get him the ball in his spots. There is no reason to think Bynum won't be averaging 20+ points per game in 2012-2013.

Defensively, he is a nightmare purely because of his frame and his strength. It is nearly impossible to bully Bynum on the block and he has improved as a shot blocker throughout his career.

The Lakers were a tough defensive team last season, and Bynum was their anchor in the paint. He proved to be an effective help defender and absolutely dominated in the playoffs, blocking 3.1 shots per contest.

He still needs to work on reacting to double teams, but Bynum is improving as a passer and if he can continue to develop this aspect of his game, he could be practically impossible to guard.

The main knock on Bynum has been his maturity, but with the exception of an incident or two last season, he showed some nice growth last season. Even if he occasionally has a mental lapse, it is hard to argue someone like Howard is more mature with his constant flip-flopping and trade demands.

Los Angeles is an older team and Bynum is one of the few young pieces they actually have; he is a free agent next summer and will garner some serious offers on the open market. The Lakers hold a serious advantage in signing him over other teams because they hold his Bird Rights and can offer him a more lucrative deal than anyone else.

Another thing to consider is that Bynum simply loves playing in L.A. Howard has shown no interest in staying with the Lakers should he be traded, but Bynum could be the team's dominant big man for the next decade. 

It is simply too big of a risk to bring in a player who could bolt after next season when they can retain Bynum, who has shown a love for the city and the culture of Los Angeles Lakers basketball.

It would undoubtedly be tempting for Mitch Kupchak and the Lakers' front office to field offers for Bynum, but considering that he has not yet reached his prime and has proven to be an absolute beast in the paint, the team must keep Andrew Bynum with the team at all costs.

Sure, there is the possibility he tweaks his knee or makes another knucklehead decision, but Bynum has the physical tools and skills to be the league's top center, and dealing him would be a very shortsighted move by Los Angeles.