Why Andrew Bynum's Knee Problems Pose Huge Risk to 76ers' Playoff Hopes

Jesse DorseyFeatured ColumnistOctober 30, 2012

Oct 17, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Andrew Bynum (33) (in street cloths) sits next to center Dan Gadzuric (14) at the end of the bench during the third quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers at the Wachovia Center. The Sixers defeated the Cavaliers 113-99. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

When the Philadelphia 76ers flipped Andre Iguodala and some spare parts for Andrew Bynum, there was praise all around for their ingenuity and the attempt to grab themselves a player who could lead a team to a championship.

There's proof on both sides of the argument as to whether or not Bynum is a franchise player, but at least there's an argument going on.

Last season Bynum showed that he's got the potential to be a franchise player based on his double-double, efficient post-play and his improving, albeit still pick-and-roll ignorant, defense.

There's a flip-side to Bynum's success story of a season ago, however.

Last season was Bynum's first as a full-time starter when he ended up missing fewer than 10 games. He played in all 82 games in his second year in the league, but he only started 53 games that year. Needless to say, Bynum has had injury problems throughout his career.

That's why there's a lot of concern surrounding Bynum's ailing knee, especially since it's not the first time that he's had knee problems. Bynum has gone under the knife at least once with some sort of problem in each knee, whether it be cleaning it out or rebuilding it.

What Bynum is going through right now has only been called "knee discomfort," the extent of which is known really only to Bynum and his doctors, but it's his right knee, in which he has torn his MCL previously.

Bynum didn't play a single preseason game for the Sixers, has rarely practiced and is only just now going through low-impact conditioning.

More #Sixers: #Bynum 'has already commenced low impact conditioning & will be re-evaluated by medical personnel on a continuous basis.'

— Tom Moore (@tmoorepburbs) October 30, 2012


If that doesn't concern the good people of Philadelphia, it certainly should.

What the 76ers have in the short-term is a team without the guy who is supposed to be their hammer down low. They've yet to completely work him into the flow of the team and they're still trying to figure their team out.

Normally I wouldn't be so concerned about the impact of one player missing from a team, but in this case, it seems like it's extremely important for Bynum to play early and often.

The biggest concern in Philly without Bynum's injury has to be how this team will play defensively. Philly is without Elton Brand and Andre Iguodala, two guys who were the anchor for the team's defense last season.

Now they're hoping that the combination of Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner can play good enough defense on the perimeter and Bynum can make the strides necessary to better defend the post. The task is a big one, and it's unlikely that they'll be able to live up to last year's team defensively.

The 76ers saving grace was supposed to be their new scoring threat in the post, who is now fighting yet another knee injury.

There's a bit of acceptance that needs to happen in Philadelphia. Without Bynum, this team is not a playoff team. With just half a season from Bynum, this team is not a playoff team. The part that's going to be hard to figure out is just how much Bynum has to play in order for Philly to win enough games in the East (which should be between 42 and 44) to grab a playoff spot.

It's not the fact that Bynum's knee is sore that concerns me, it's the fact that it's a problem that has only been prescribed "rest." Maybe it's not a recurring thing, but it certainly seems to be problematic.

It's going to be extremely difficult for the 76ers to make their way into the playoffs if Bynum is on and off throughout the season.