Breaking Down the Kevin Garnett-Andrew Bynum Matchup for Boston Celtics
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Whenever there's a trade in sports, people always try to evaluate the "winners" and "losers" of the deal.
That's a natural way to look at a trade.
Sometimes, the winners and losers go well beyond the teams and players involved in the actual trade itself.
Take the recent Dwight Howard trade.
The Lakers got Dwight Howard, and the Philadelphia 76ers got Andrew Bynum. There was more of course, but those two players and their subsequent movement will have the biggest impact on the league next season.
Bynum's arrival in the Atlantic Division has a major impact, not just on the 76ers, but on the whole division.
All of a sudden, the division is flush with talent at the center position. The New York Knicks have gold-medal winner and reigning Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler.
Add in Andrew Bynum, who has the potential to be the best big man in the league, and this division is no joke when it comes to the low post.
The addition of Bynum makes this particularly daunting for the Boston Celtics and Kevin Garnett.
Bynum will be 25 when the 2012-13 season starts. His current trajectory has been one of steady improvement that has been somewhat muted by a series of nagging injuries.
His numbers last season, 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds per game, were both career highs. But he's probably going to get better. Bynum is not only still young, but he's been playing on a team where he has been primarily the third offensive option.
No one shoots the ball more than Kobe Bryant, and while Bynum was on the Lakers, players such as Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom also demanded a fair amount of shots.
It probably wasn't a coincidence that Odom's departure and Bynum's career season both took place at the same time.
Now, Bynum arrives in Philadelphia, where Andre Iguodala and Lou Williams, two of the team's top-four scorers from last season, have already departed.
There's little question that Bynum will be a focal point of the 76ers offense.
How does this impact the Celtics and Kevin Garnett? More importantly, how will these two behemoths match up?
It's going to be an interesting showdown. These are two vastly different athletes. Garnett, even at his peak, was a wiry and agile jumping-jack who could put the ball on the floor, shoot from the outside or throw down ferocious dunks. He was also a fantastic defender, the winner of the 2008 NBA Defensive Player of The Year.
Now older, Garnett is no longer that guy. He's still very good though. His athletic abilities have declined a bit, and thus the "ferocious dunk" part of his arsenal is not as often utilized. That decline has also impacted his defense, which is still top-notch but not at the very top.
Andrew Bynum, meanwhile, is a massive physical specimen. Bynum is 7'0" and 285 pounds. He has a long wingspan and is a decent leaper, but he's not lighting quick; he's very strong, but he doesn't move on the floor with the same type of fluidity that Garnett did when he was younger.
When Garnett has the ball, Bynum's biggest concern will be fouling him. Garnett loves to shoot the ball from the outside, and even with his advanced age, he will be able to put the ball on the floor against Bynum.
So Bynum will have to be cognizant of that when Garnett tries to draw him out to as much as 12 to 18 feet away from the basket. One good up-fake from Garnett, and he could be on his way to the rim or the free-throw line if Bynum compounds the issue with a foul.
But Garnett can't just ignore Bynum once he's by him. Bynum is a very good shot-blocker, and if Garnett is not quick to the rim, he could have his shot swatted from behind.
When Bynum has the ball, Garnett will have his own problems.
Bynum might not out-quick Garnett, but he could overpower him. Bynum outweighs Garnett by over 60 pounds. That means Garnett will need every ounce of his defensive instincts to beat Bynum to the prime spots in the low post in order to prevent him from establishing good position.
If Bynum establishes good low-post position, then Garnett is in big trouble. He's not strong enough to move Bynum off the blocks, and he's no longer the same type of leaper he was earlier in his career.
The Garnett of five or ten years ago would have been able to compensate for his lack of bulk by swatting a few of Bynum's shots away from the rim.
The modern Garnett won't find that as a viable option.
The real problem for the Celtics is the trajectory of the two players. Bynum has his critics, but they can't argue with time. Bynum, at 25 years of age, is getting better. Garnett, at 36, might not get worse this season, but his best years are behind him, and if Bynum isn't a better player now, he will be in the near future.
That doesn't mean that Bynum will end up having a better career than Garnett; he's still got a long ways to go to get to that point, but for the Celtics, the Bynum-Garnett matchup won't be one they'll enjoy for too long—if at all.
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