Why Sixers Won't Regret Cashing in for Andrew Bynum

Zach BuckleyNational NBA Featured ColumnistNovember 23, 2012

Nov 16, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Andrew Bynum (33) during the third quarter against the Utah Jazz at the Wachovia Center. The Sixers defeated the Jazz 99-93. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

The Philadelphia 76ers knew what they were signing up for when they sent former franchise cornerstone Andre Iguodala to the Denver Nuggets in a four-team trade that resulted in their acquisition of former Los Angeles Lakers star Andrew Bynum among others.

Philadelphia GM Tony DiLeo must have felt that the 25-year-old center's vast potential outweighed his documented injury history. But given that Bynum has yet to appear in a 76ers uniform through the club's first 12 games (and the fact that his return still lacks so much as a target date), Philadelphia could be experiencing some buyer's remorse.

But several GMs still believe that this was a move the 76ers had to make, according to Comcast Bay Area's Ric Bucher.

Bynum has had a colorful history since the Lakers made him the youngest player drafted in league history when they selected him at the age of 17 with the 10th pick of the 2005 draft.

Standing a legitimate 7'0" and tipping the scales at 285 lbs., he's been literally the league's biggest conundrum. He's shown flashes of his superstar talent...when his creaky knees have allowed him to stay on the floor that is.

And it's those same glimpses of the shot-blocking, glass-eating post presence that could have Philadelphia facing grand larceny charges by year's end.

Not to take anything away from Iguodala, but his time in the City of Brotherly Love had run its course. Philly's chance to move the 28-year-old wing for a talent-laden Bynum was too good to pass up.

At 7-5, Philadelphia hasn't yet missed Bynum's presence. Perhaps that's because the 76ers haven't yet had the chance to even realize what it is that they're missing.

Coach Doug Collins has blended his team's athleticism and perimeter threats well. His players have held opponents to the fewest points allowed per game in the league (90.92), while they have converted on 37.5 percent of their three-point attempts (seventh best in the NBA).

But Philadelphia's been lacking the physical, intimidating presence that Bynum will bring. The 76ers' minus-3.67 rebounding differential ranks 27th among NBA teams. The 6'8" Thaddeus Young and the 6'7" Evan Turner lead the team in rebounding with 7.6 and 7.4 boards per game respectively. Considering that Bynum's fresh off a career-best 11.8 rebounds-per-game effort in 2011-12, his ability to finish defensive possessions could actually improve the league's stingiest defense.

Bynum's ability to change shots at the rim would also be a welcome addition for a team short on intimidation. Coach Collins has spurred one of the better shot-blocking team efforts (6.33 blocks per game, 10th in the NBA), but he's lacked that one great shot-blocker at the basket. In fact, the perimeter-oriented Spencer Hawes leads this team with 1.6 blocks per game (19th in the NBA).

Offensively, Bynum could help the 76ers find more of the point-blank looks that have thus far eluded them.

Philadelphia's 41.1 field-goal percentage ranks 29th in the NBA, ahead of only the winless Washington Wizards. With Kwame Brown (46.2 field-goal percentage) and Lavoy Allen (38.2) splitting time in the middle, coach Collins has yet to draw up the post isolations he'll call when Bynum—a career 56.6 percent shooter—returns.

It's easy to get frustrated by Bynum's absence with each turn of the calendar. But the most important thing for this franchise and the new face of it is making sure that when Bynum does return to the floor that he's healthy enough to avoid further trips away from it.

All statistics used in this article are accurate as of 11/22/2012.