Will Andrew Bynum Leaving L.A. Lakers Stunt His Growth as a Star Center?

Maxwell Ogden@MaxwellOgdenCorrespondent IIIOctober 9, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 19:  Andrew Bynum #17 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts in the first period while taking on the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Four of the Western Conference Semifinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs on May 19 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 Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

When the Los Angeles Lakers make a move, the entire NBA pays attention. When an individual leaves the organization, however, the league writes them off as yet another player who will be cast into obscurity and irrelevance.

The question is, does leaving the L.A. franchise actually lead to a career of underwhelming success? That is the wonder surrounding the Lakers' former All-Star center, Andrew Bynum.

Bynum was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers as a part of the infamous Dwight Howard acquisition. He will now be tasked with a role that he has never been faced with: leading a franchise out of mediocrity and into prominence.

Quite the shift in pace from playing alongside Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol in purple and gold.

Although the odds are stacked against him, Andrew Bynum will break the mold. No longer will ex-Lakers become non-factors in the chain of the NBA's elite. Instead, Bynum will maintain his steady pace of rivaling Dwight Howard as the best center in the game.

In fact, Bynum being out of Los Angeles is the best thing that has ever happened to his young career. Well, aside from winning those two NBA championships.


Balancing Maturity and Stage

The most widespread complaint about Andrew Bynum has been his maturity as a player. Although he certainly lacks the desired level of mental advancement displayed by an NBA superstar, Bynum was under a larger magnifying glass than any other young player in the league.

As the Lakers' first standout center since Shaquille O'Neal, every game was evaluated as if it were the most important of his career. The truth that appears to have been lost in that process is that Bynum is further along in the development process than a majority of the 24-year-old players in the NBA.

He simply had a larger stage to grow on.

As the leader of the Philadelphia 76ers, the local spotlight will be much larger than that on a league-wide level. No longer will every game be nationally televised, as the Sixers are a middle-of-the-pack postseason team until proven otherwise.

Lower expectations will breed positive results.


Becoming the Focus

Throughout Andrew Bynum's career with the Los Angeles Lakers, it's safe to say that he was never the true focus of the offense. Kobe Bryant commanded a majority of the touches and shot attempts, which left Bynum as more of an opportunistic scorer.

The fact that Pau Gasol demanded just as many attempts as Bynum certainly didn't help his cause, either.

In Philadelphia, Bynum will be in a land of new opportunity and experience. No longer will he be a second or third option, but instead the focal point of the 76ers' offensive attack. Whether Bynum receives the ball in the post or coming off of the pick-and-roll, it all rests on his shoulders.

Although this appears to be a heavy burden, now is the time to place it upon him. Bynum may be 24, but he's also entering his eighth year in the league. If he's not up for such a task now, when will he be?

If his development is to continue, it will be as the number one player on his respective team. That is the exact opportunity that the Philadelphia 76ers are presenting him with.

The exact opportunity that the Lakers never offered him.


Leading the Fellow Youth

As a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, Andrew Bynum was always considered to be the "man of tomorrow." As the youngest player in a group of All-NBA caliber veterans, Bynum was always the talented youngster who sat on the outside looking in when asked "whose team are the Lakers?"

Now that he's in Philadelphia, however, that couldn't be any further from the current scenario.

Bynum is surrounded by young players with postseason experience. The team's starting lineup will include 22-year-old point guard Jrue Holiday, 23-year-old small forward Evan Turner and 24-year-old power forward Evan Turner.

Throw in the 24-year-old Thaddeus Young and it becomes clear that Bynum is now the leader of a young core of players that are in need of a go-to scorer. Bynum's chance to lead has finally arrived.

Who would have thought that it would come with lower expectations?