7 Biggest Questions for Philadelphia 76ers as Andrew Bynum Era Begins
This could certainly be quite a ride.
The man hasn't been a poster-child for good behavior and isn't looked at as much of a team player. Still though, one thing cannot be overlooked: His talent.
Bynum is one of the two best centers in the NBA. He runs the floor exceptionally well and finishes around the rim with ease. On top of that, his defense is game-changing when he gets the urge to play it.
So what does that mean for the team that got him?
It means that the Sixers have some questions to answer.
Here's a look at the seven biggest questions for Philadelphia as they begin the Andrew Bynum era.
How Well Will Philadelphia Start the Season?
Getting off to a good start will be crucial toward the team's success this year.
That is, until they went 7-13 in their next 20 games.
It's important to note that last season was only 66 games long. Going 25-20 through the first 45 games is good. It really is.
But does Philadelphia only want to be good?
Bynum's trade immediately made people believe in them as more than a good team.
It made people believe in them as contenders.
Contenders don't get off to slow starts and struggle to rebound through the season. If Philadelphia wants to achieve that title, then they'll need to start from day one.
Can Bynum Work Well with New Teammates?
As great as adding Bynum is, it won't mean anything if he doesn't play well with the others on the floor.
Jrue Holiday at point guard shouldn't have any trouble adapting to playing with a legitimate force at center. In fact, Bynum's presence could force Holiday to shoot more from longer distances. An area of the game that he succeeds in, but doesn't take enough chances at.
Holiday will benefit most from Bynum's addition, and it's hard to see either of these guys struggling to play together.
Jason Richardson has the potential to thrive this year. Bynum's presence down low will force defenders to sag in and help on the block, leaving players like Richardson open on the three-point line.
The player that could end up changing his game most this season is Evan Turner. He is one of the best rebounding wings in the league, but there aren't going to be as many opportunities to rebound the ball with Bynum under the hoop.
Turner will have to contribute more on the scoreboard instead of to the rebounding totals. He'll need to be able to knock down open shots and get to the rim at a high rate. If he can accomplish both of those tasks, then the two will work well together.
Spencer Hawes has never been too big of a threat on offense. He does a couple things well, like knock down open shots with range on his jumper, but he's still low on the list as far as offense goes.
His biggest change will come on the defensive end of the floor. Philadelphia now has two good shot blockers in Bynum and Hawes. That sounds perfect and all, but look at it more closely and you'll find potential troubles.
Finding a way to defend these types of players will be difficult for Hawes to do, and could end up being one of the only major problems from Bynum's arrival.
As a whole, the Sixers should be able to work well together.
It all comes down to trusting one another and buying into Doug Collins' system.
Can Bynum Stay Healthy?
Andrew Bynum is off to a poor start for a man that's been plagued by injuries throughout his young career.
Getting plasma-therapy injections over the offseason isn't ideal for anybody. Preventative or not, the less work a player does on themselves, the better.
It's not so much about Bynum missing the preseason so that he can recover and be healthy for the regular season.
It's more about how he'll fare for 82 games.
Bynum has missed at least 28 games in four of his NBA seasons. He's only been playing in the league for seven years.
He's simply not durable.
Last season was one of the healthiest of his career. He played in 60 of the 66 regular season games, (four of the games missed were from suspension), and he put up career highs in points and rebounds.
It's impossible to know now, but finding out about Bynum's health will be more than important to the Sixers.
Who Is the Real Andrew Bynum?
Will the real Andrew Bynum please stand up? No, really, will the real Andrew Bynum please stand up?
Anybody that's watched Bynum play knows that he plays with loads of personality. That same personality has landed him on the bench throughout his career.
Trey Kerby of blogs.thescore.com put his feelings toward Bynum perfectly:
"This year has been something entirely new for Andrew Bynum...He openly criticized Mike Brown at nearly every opportunity. He took inappropriate 3-pointers during meaningful possessions (not to say that it was any worse than the inappropriate 15-footers he’d been taking for years, but this just LOOKED worse), leading Brown to bench Bynum during the fourth quarter in a March game against Golden State. After being questioned about the incident, Bynum responded by saying “I don’t know what was bench-worthy about the shot, to be honest with you. I made one last [game] and wanted to make another one.” This guy."
Please excuse the long quote, but Kerby's feelings describe what an NBA fan might feel. Bynum hasn't had just one slip-up; he's been full of them.
The question is if this is really who he is.
The Sixers need to get a clear-headed Bynum who is looking to contribute toward a winning team.
Not a guy that is looking to start trouble.
Can the Sixers Take Control of the Atlantic Division?
The Andrew Bynum era comes with a bad question for other teams.
Who in the Atlantic Division is going to guard him?
The New York Knicks look like they'll have the best shot at slowing him down. Tyson Chandler is a defensive juggernaut, and he held Bynum to three points and 13 rebounds in their one showdown from last year.
Still though, it's hard to think that Bynum won't get the best of Chandler in at least three of their four matchups this year. Bynum moves better, and Chandler doesn't have the body to stand up to consistent punishment from a man of Bynum's size.
Brook Lopez is the only true center on the Brooklyn Nets roster. His offensive production will end up being his biggest weakness against Philadelphia. He'll need to get rest while playing defense so that he's fresh on the offensive side of the floor, and that's only going to give Bynum easy opportunities.
Brooklyn just doesn't have any defenders that can step up and get the job done.
Finally, the Boston Celtics. Kevin Garnett is the unquestioned defensive leader for the team, but his age is concerning. Guarding a player like Bynum at 36 years old will eventually take its toll.The first two times they meet might be interesting, but Garnett just won't have the energy to compete as well as the season progresses.
He's simply too old.
The Atlantic Division is there for Philadelphia to take. They just need to seize it.
One thing is for sure, Bynum creates mismatches against all but one of the division's other teams. Those mismatches will be crucial toward Philadelphia's success.
How Well Will the Team React to the New Hype?
Reacting to a world of hype will go one of two ways for the Philadelphia 76ers.
On one hand they could embrace it and play with the confidence of an elite team. They could live up to the hype and thrive in a way that validates both the trade and the new hype.
On the other hand, they could crash with the best of them and play miserably.
Now if you're a Philadelphia fan, then it's easy to think negatively about the increased amount of press coverage. The Sixers aren't used to getting this much attention, so it's a little bit intimidating.
This new hype has to be taken in stride as the season progresses.
More and more questions about the Sixers living up to the talk will begin to surface as the playoffs near,
That's just the nature of the game.
Philadelphia needs to make sure that they are focused on the court instead of the papers and the rest should take care of itself.
However, that's much easier said than done.
Will the Bynum Era Last Longer Than a Year?
For Philadelphia to come out of the Andrew Bynum trade as winners, they must make the Bynum era last longer than a year.
Only being under contract for one season certainly has its advantages for the player.
Unfortunately, it leaves the team wondering about re-signing him.
CBS Philly writer, Spike Eskin, was at Bynum's press conference when he arrived in Philadelphia. It sounds as though Bynum might want to stay a little bit longer:
"Andrew Bynum is only under contract for one season, and then he has the opportunity to become a free agent. When asked if he has considered staying with the Sixers, Bynum said “my experience here has been so great, I’m leaning toward making this my home.” The already loud crowd got much, much louder."
Bynum saying that he is considering staying in Philadelphia—a year before he has to make the decision—carries about as much weight as a newborn.
The Andrew Bynum era will only take place if he's on the team. Playing there for a year and leaving for a different team does the Sixers no good.
Whether the Sixers can keep him in a Philadelphia jersey past this season will end up being the biggest question.
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