But while they weren't able to land this summer's ultimate reward, the Sixers still wound up with one of the two best centers in the NBA.
For a young 76ers squad that was overly reliant on jump shots last season, Andrew Bynum's impact should be felt almost immediately. The 7'0", 285-pound center is a massive presence who will attract quite a bit of attention whenever he posts up on the low block.
For the first time in ages, the Sixers will be able to run an effective inside-out game, especially now that the team added a bevy of shooters this offseason (Dorell Wright, Jason Richardson and Nick Young).
Furthermore, with Bynum a threat to go for 18 points and 11 rebounds every night, Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner should have more space in which to attack the basket.
Simply put, Bynum is the best big man to put on a 76ers uniform since Moses Malone. Knee injuries sapped both Chris Webber and Elton Brand of much of their effectiveness before they arrived in Philadelphia, and no other low-post player in the franchise's recent history was as polished on both ends of the floor as Bynum is at only 24 years of age.
To be fair, the Sixers did have an All-Star center on their roster 10 years ago, but even back in 2002, Dikembe Mutombo was considered old.
California Redwoods, cut-him-open-and-count-the-rings old.
Mutombo averaged 11.5 PPG and 11.2 RPG as a member of the Sixers, but he was more or less an afterthought on the offensive end of the floor.
Bynum has yet to enter his prime, and he's already the best go-to low-post option Philadelphia has seen since Charles Barkley ruled the Spectrum two decades ago. Bynum is extremely skilled at establishing position under the basket, and once he catches the entry pass, Bynum is virtually automatic—he converted 73.2 percent of his field-goal attempts at the rim last season, according to HoopData.
As the team's No. 1 option on offense, Bynum has to get better at passing out of double-teams, a skill he failed to develop with the Lakers. It's a detail on which Sixers head coach Doug Collins will be sure to focus in training camp this fall as the team revamps its playbook in order to fully maximize Bynum's strengths.
The addition of Bynum also gives more validity to Collins' plan of starting Spencer Hawes at the power-forward position. While Thaddeus Young would be better suited to guard opposing 4s, Bynum's presence in the middle negates much of Hawes' ineffectiveness on the defensive end.
Hawes also happens to be one of the team's better passers, and his mid-range jumper—which is far better than that of Young—is the perfect complement to Bynum's "bull in a china shop" approach in the paint.
Time will ultimately tell how much of an effect Bynum will have on the Sixers, but it's hard to imagine that the team won't be better with a legitimate All-Star center as the focal point of its offense.
The Lakers may have been awarded the gold at this summer’s NBA offseason Olympics, but Andrew Bynum is a pretty good consolation prize, no matter how you judge it.