One of the few dark spots for the Lakers the last three seasons has been the health of Andrew Bynum. The last three seasons, Bynum has suffered three different knee injuries.
The first and most serious knee injury took place during the middle of the 2007-08 season. Bynum suffered a dislocated left knee cap and missed the remainder of the season, including the playoffs.
In 2009, Bynum suffered a torn MCL in his right knee and missed nearly the entire second half of the season. Although Bynum returned for the playoffs, he was largely ineffective for the Lakers on their way to winning their first of back to back championships.
Last season, in the first round of the playoffs, Bynum suffered yet another knee injury. Although Bynum played throughout the course of the playoffs, helping the Lakers beat the Boston Celtics in the Finals, the injury required offseason knee surgery. The knee surgery has kept Bynum out of the lineup to start this season.
So, you can see why Bynum's injuries have proved to be very frustrating for fans. However, let's go back to Bynum's first injury during the 2007-08 season. Is it possible this was a blessing in disguise for the Lakers?
Before Bynum's first knee injury in 2007-08, the Lakers were looking like a much improved team in the Western Conference. The team posted a 24-11 record and Bynum was looking like he was turning into a legitimate sidekick for Kobe Bryant.
At the time of the injury, Bynum was averaging 13 points and ten rebounds a game. However, things came to a halt during a January game,when Bynum went down with a dislocated left knee cap.
After Bynum went down with his injury, the Lakers were left desperately thin in the paint. The only real reliable post player the Lakers had left was Lamar Odom. In the next 10 games, the Lakers went a very pedestrian 5-5, which included a three-game losing streak at the end of January.
On Feb. 1, 2008, the Lakers acquired Pau Gasol from the Memphis Grizzlies. Gasol made up for Bynum's loss and then some. The rest is ancient history, as The Lakers would go on to win the Western Conference that season and have won the last two championships.
So, if Bynum had not been injured that season would the Lakers have pursued Pau Gasol? We will never know for sure, but I tend to believe the Lakers would not have pursued Gasol.
At the time of Bynum's injury, the Lakers had a record of 24-11. Assuming the Lakers kept that pace, they would have finished the season with over 50 victories. If they had kept pace to win over 50 games and Bynum continued to improve, the Lakers probably would not have felt as inclined to go after a player of Gasol's caliber.
Now, let's pretend the Bynum stayed healthy that season and the Lakers went into the playoffs as one of the top four seeds in the Western Conference. Would they have went all the way to the Finals? Maybe, but doubtful. I feel the Lakers would have won one or maybe two playoff series, but would have fallen short of the Finals.
So, as frustrating as it has been the last few years not having Bynum in the lineup, it may have been a blessing in disguise. Without Bynum being injured in the middle of the 2007-08 season, Pau Gasol may have never worn purple and gold and the Lakers would have two less championships.