Andrew Bynum: Elite Center Makes Philadelphia 76ers Contenders in the East

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Andrew Bynum: Elite Center Makes Philadelphia 76ers Contenders in the East
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

It's not always sunny in Philadelphia, but things are looking a lot brighter now that big man Andrew Bynum will be bringing his talents to the City of Brotherly Love.

After helping end the nightmare that was the Dwight Howard saga, the basketball gods rewarded the Philadelphia 76ers by sending them the second-best center in the game (per Yahoo! Sports). It cost them Andre Iguodala, Nikola Vucevic and Moe Harkless, but that's a small price to pay for a 7-footer of Bynum's caliber.

Dominant big men are nearly impossible to come by these days which is why Bynum's presence will catapult Philly into the top tier of the Eastern Conference.

The Sixers were already a promising young team, with guys like Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner, Spencer Hawes and Thaddeus Young making them a scary group come playoff time. Now that they've added Bynum, as well as offensive weapons Dorell Wright, Nick Young and Jason Richardson, Philadelphia is a force to be reckoned with. 

Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

Even without Bynum, the Sixers pushed the Boston Celtics to seven games in the second round of the 2012 playoffs. Now that they've got the best center east of L.A., there's no reason to think that the Sixers can't make the conference finals in 2013.

Although Bynum was an All-Star last season, I don't think he gets the credit he deserves. He's still not on Howard's level, but the gap between them is much smaller than most people realize. Just take a look at their 2011-2012 numbers:

 

Howard: 54 GP, 38.3 MPG, 20.6 PPG, 14.5 RPG, 2.1 BPG, 57.3 FG%, 49.1 FT%, 24.29 PER

Bynum: 60 GP, 35.2 MPG, 18.7 PPG, 11.8 RPG, 1.9 BPG, 55.8 FG%, 69.2 FT%, 23.00 PER

 

Does anything in those two lines indicate that Howard is a much better player? Sure, there's a large rebounding disparity, but Howard didn't have another 7-footer like Pau Gasol to snatch some of his boards away. And while Howard's defensive impact isn't fully represented by statistics, it's not like Bynum is a slouch on D.

Add in the fact that he's a much better free-throw shooter, not coming off major back surgery (like Howard), and he shot an insane 82.1 percent in the clutch (h/t 82games.com) and Bynum is nearly as an attractive asset as Superman.

Bynum is also just 24 years old, so if the Sixers can ink him to a long-term deal, they will contend in the Eastern Conference for at least the next four to five years.

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