Cleveland Cavaliers: Why Passing on Andrew Bynum Was a Smart Choice
While Cleveland faithful were hoping to see the big man wear the Wine and Gold next season, Bynum was not the best opportunity for the rebuilding Cavaliers.
For the past two seasons, the Cavs have been rebuilding around coach Byron Scott's Princeton-style offense, which requires a center that can step back and consistently score from the high post. While Bynum is a great scorer in the low post, he struggles away from the basket. From 10 to 15 feet, Bynum only connected on 26.5 percent of his shots, showing poor form on his jump shot (via hoopdata.com).
Although Bynum has tried to stretch his shot out to the three-point line, he is only a true threat with his back to the basket, which would have limited the offensive play-calling for Coach Scott.
Even though centers are typically unused in transition basketball, Coach Scott’s offense requires every player on the court to run and defend in transition. This would have been a huge jump for Bynum, who has spent his whole NBA career in half-court, post-up schemes. With chronic knee problems, he does not have the durability nor the speed to be able to run a fast-paced game plan.
In an ESPN interview, Bynum has even admitted that he is not effective at balancing rebounding with getting back on defense.
Off the court, Bynum would have been poisonous in the Cavalier locker room.
Did the Cavaliers make a mistake by passing on Bynum?
Bynum's attitude problems are well known: He has been called out by Kobe Bryant and Coach Mike Brown for having a "lack of heart". Bynum's attitude has also caused him to be ejected from multiple games, leading to criticism from Los Angeles legends Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Shaquille O'Neal.
If Bynum is causing problems on the Los Angeles Lakers, a strong-cultured perennial contender lead by future Hall of Fame guard Kobe Bryant, how would Bynum have acted on the rebuilding Cleveland Cavaliers? Although the young Cavalier roster shows promise, they are still a streaky team with a long path to playoff contention.
Going from a title contender in a large market to a lottery team in a small market may have caused problems for Bynum.
Owner Dan Gilbert and GM Chris Grant have worked to establish a positive culture in Cleveland by drafting high-class players such as Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson and Tyler Zeller. Bringing in Bynum would have established a “win-now” culture that these young players are not yet ready for.
Andrew Bynum is a max-salary player, set to make over $16 million next season (via hoopshype.com). If the Cavaliers are going to mortgage their future on one player, he should fit the system perfectly. Bynum’s mid-range offensive limitations, paired with attitude and durability problems, did not warrant a max-level deal from the Cavaliers.
The future is bright for Cleveland. While Bynum may have seemed desirable, the front office did a great job of waiting for a better opportunity.
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