It was recently announced by ESPN that Andrew Bynum is out indefinitely, and it rightfully has caused every Philadelphia 76ers fan to enter a stage of disappointment. But despite the unfortunate situation, Sixers fans need to understand one thing: Bynum is still the Sixers' best chance to win a championship.
When general manager Tony DiLeo came out and said that they "plan on him being here long-term," DiLeo's intentions just so happened to be in the right place.
After starting the season 8-6, the Sixers have shown signs of improvement and signs of disappointment. Nevertheless, we can assess from the start that the Sixers are what they always have been—a slightly above-average and competitive team.
Sure, you could argue that they have gotten somewhat better, but not substantial enough for them to be considered a legit contender.
Stop there. Note the phrase "legit contender." This is always the goal in mind of every front office and it is what the fans should be thinking as well.
It is obvious that the Sixers simply are not ready now. As stated, they are still slightly above average. Just take a look at where they are in the season today and how they got there.
Jrue Holiday, who is just 22 years old, has been leading the team thus far, averaging 17.5 points and nearly nine assist per game. He has clearly stepped up his game when the Sixers needed him to.
As great as it is that Holiday has finally broken out into his full potential, the Sixers cannot always rely on him. Unfortunately, he just does not have that No. 1 stature about him, and the Sixers certainly do not want to put themselves in the same situation of giving a player "No. 1" responsibilities when he is not suited for them, inevitably making the player a victim of circumstance (cough...Andre Iguodala...cough, cough...)
Bynum, because he would be the best center in the Eastern Conference by a landslide, provides the productivity of a No. 1 player.
As a third option, yes third option, Bynum averaged 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds per game with the Los Angeles Lakers. Just imagine how much more he could do in the East. Honestly, it would not be far-fetched to project him to average 20 points and 12 to 14 rebounds per game.
Also, keep in mind that the plethora of complementary players will finally have one player to complement. Furthermore, it would be an environment where everyone can flourish.
The Sixers would be, in essence, a complete team.
Just think about it: the defense would need to worry about Bynum in the paint while also worrying about the lethal shooters the Sixers have at the perimeter. When they double-team Bynum, someone is always open; and when they don't, he can just seize the one-on-one opportunity.
With Bynum on the court, the Sixers have the chance to be better version of what the Orlando Magic were with Dwight Howard. No, Bynum is not better than Howard, but the Sixers are an inherently deeper team and have a better supporting cast.
Regardless, they would be a virtual remodel of a team that made it to the NBA Finals. No matter what injury risks come up, no team should shy away from that potential.
As DiLeo put it, "At the time of the trade, we had four doctors look at his MRI; we knew it was a calculated risk. We also knew we were getting the second-best center in the league, a franchise-type player. We took that risk."
They took the risk because he was (and still is) evidently worth the risk.
Does it suck for the fans? Uh, yeah. They were expecting immediate improvement, anticipating one of the best big men in the league play for their team and finally given the chance to embrace a No. 1 player, soon to be told vaguely that he is out indefinitely. Yes, put simply, it sucks.
But I urge you to be patient. It was known entering the situation that this would be a risky investment. The Sixers have always lacked a player a to build a team around, and now that they have one in their hands, they cannot let him slip away so quickly.