Pacers Basketball: Why Andrew Bynum Is a Great Addition for Indiana

Kyle GrandFeatured ColumnistFebruary 1, 2014

CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 26:  Andrew Bynum #21 of the Cleveland Cavaliers looks on during the game against the Atlanta Hawks at Quicken Loans Arena on December 26, 2013 in Cleveland, Ohio.  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 Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)
Mike Lawrie/Getty Images

The Indiana Pacers sent a shock wave through the landscape of the NBA when they announced Andrew Bynum is heading to Indianapolis to suit up for the blue and gold.

At first glance, this move seems a bit confusing. Why would the Pacers, arguably the best team in the NBA, bring in the much-maligned center with a history of attitude problems?

Well, the Pacers may be one of the favorites to bring home the NBA title, but when you take a deeper look, the acquisition of Bynum makes perfect sense.

After last season, the Pacers' biggest question mark was their bench. The group didn't get the job done in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat. To remedy the situation, C.J. Watson and Luis Scola were added in the offseason. Danny Granger returned from injury and found a role with the second unit.

While the bench is better overall, it's by no means stellar offensively, scoring just 25.5 points per game (26th in NBA). Granger has yet to be the spark Indiana thought he'd be in his comeback. He's averaging just 8.3 points per game while shooting a paltry 36.1 percent from the field and 31.9 percent from three.

Ian Mahinmi has had a tough year.
Ian Mahinmi has had a tough year.Rocky Widner/Getty Images

So, the Pacers brought in the offensively gifted big man to help fill the scoring void, especially the absence of points in the low post. If Bynum is able to contribute, he could easily replace the Pacers' current backup big man, the struggling Ian Mahinmi. 

While Mahnimi is above-average on defense, he has been abysmal on offense in 2013-14. Mahinmi averages a mere three points and three rebounds per game, while shooting under 50 percent. His play this season, combined with his performance in last year's playoffs where he put up 1.6 points and 2.3 rebounds a night, must have finally been enough for President of Basketball Operations Larry Bird to want to make a change. 

Bynum was a force to be reckoned with in Los Angeles.
Bynum was a force to be reckoned with in Los Angeles.Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

It seems like forever ago, but Bynum used to be an offensive force. In 2011-12, his final season as a Los Angeles Laker, he put up 18.7 points per night to go along with 11.8 rebounds. Remember, he did that while having to share the ball with Kobe Bryant.

This season in Cleveland, Bynum came off the bench and contributed 8.4 points and 5.3 rebounds in 20 minutes per game. So, on a bad team where he was clearly unhappy, his performance was still way better than Mahinmi's.

Just think what a rested, healthy, motivated Bynum can bring to the Pacers. Even if he is just a shred of his former self, it's an upgrade for Indiana. 

Some of you are probably thinking that his well-known antics could easily be a distraction for a team hell-bent on winning the NBA title.

The Pacers' locker room is much different from the one in Cleveland. There was no veteran presence quite like David West. West is the leader of the team, and neither West nor head coach Frank Vogel will put up with any of Bynum's shenanigans.

Also, do you honestly think Bird, the mastermind behind Indiana's revival, would bring Bynum in if he thought Bynum was going to cause trouble?

Bird is much too smart for that. Before making the decision, he must have read the riot act to the 7-footer—he wouldn't take a chance at messing up Indiana's impeccable chemistry. 

In the end, the Pacers can only benefit from this move. If Bynum can give Indiana quality minutes, it is going to be that much better and even more equipped to take down the Heat. Having a former All-Star center backing up current All-Star Roy Hibbert creates a lot of size and skill down low that Miami must contend with at all points of the game.

If he plays poorly or becomes a distraction, then the Pacers go right back to Mahinmi and the way things were. No harm, no foul, and the Pacers would still be one of the league's best teams. 

For Indiana, the signing of Bynum is a low-risk, high-reward scenario. The Pacers have an NBA championship on their mind, and if Bynum can shore up their bench, they are that much closer to getting fitted for championship rings at the end of the summer.