The Los Angeles Lakers have been in a funk lately, and like Nicholson, something has got to give.
After suffering a string of defeats from non-playoff bound teams, Los Angeles rebounded slightly with a victory over the Sacramento Kings.
Whew. It would have been bad to lose that one!
How could this be? Aren't they still the best team in basketball?
Of course they are.
The fact of the matter is the Lakers are simply to shallow in the front court at the moment, and it's starting to show. Having Andrew and Theo Ratliff sidelined with injuries has put an added strain on forwards Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom, and they have been playing too many minutes because of it.
Bynum was supposed to rejoin the team on Turkey Day to relieve his fellow big men, but that didn't end up happening. Sources are starting to indicate that he will in fact join the team on an up coming road trip, and see some minutes before the end of it
This is great news for the purple and gold fans, and it couldn't come at a better time. Andrew Bynum brings so much to this squad when he sees minutes, that his returning skill set will definitely help the Lakers get back on the right track. The following are the top things I believe Andrew Bynum brings to the Lakers line up, and why it's so crucial the Los Angeles gets them back as soon as humanly possible.
Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom have done an amazing job of holding down the fort for Andrew in his absence, but now it's time to get some much needed rest.
Thanks to an extended healing period, Gasol and Odom have seen quite a few minutes. While they have been very productive, the time on the court is starting to take it's tole. Pau has a slightly injured Hammy that very well could have been avoided with less ware and tear. Odom has not encountered anything too serious, but is starting to appear gassed late in quarters.
With the return of Bynum, both of these forwards will get to know the pine a little better, and will be able to rest nagging injuries before anything serious develops. Having a rested front line is crucial for the Lakers now, and come playoff time.
Sure Gasol blocks shots, but with both of them in the paint together, opponents can forget about driving the lane.
Andrew Bynum has proven to be a shot blocking presence in the past, and it should be no different upon his return. In order to compete with teams like the Magic, Heat, and Celtics, the Lakers will need that shot blocking presence in full effect.
Andrew has great timing and shot anticipation in the post, which allows him to block and alter countless shots that prevent easy buckets from the opposition. When the Lakers get him back, they will prevent countless easy points that kill them without Bynum on the floor.
What? He can score also?
Andrew Bynum has never looked like a first scoring option, but that doesn't mean he cant put up points in bunches on any given night. While his career average is hardly spectacular at 10.3 points per game, he sporadically drops closer to 20 points when healthy these days.
What does this equate to?
What this means for the Lakers is upon his return, Andrew Bynum will do wonders in balancing out the scoring load. Kobe will get his usual 25-30, Gasol can breathe a little knowing he can score less, and Bynum can return to scoring 14-22 on hook shots and put-backs.
With the scoring load better distributed, everyone on the Laker squad can let the game come to them, and not force any unnecessary offense.
Every great Basketball mind has said it;
"The game is won and lost on the glass."
The bare bones of it is, if you don't have a great rebounding team, don't count on getting too far. The Los Angeles Lakers are a good rebounding team even without Bynum, but are truly superior to other squads when he's on the floor.
Having averaged 8.4 rebounds per game in 2010, Andrew truly is a force on the glass for the Lake Show. It's also hard to tell how he benefits the Lakers best, as he cleans up missed shots on the offensive end, and prevents easy hoops for the opposition on the defensive end.
Having Bynum back in the fold simply gives the Lakers an unfair and unmatched advantage on the glass, which ultimately gives them the advantage in the game also.
Sure, Kobe Bryant is still one of the best players in Basketball. It's not like I forgot that.
I have to be real with you today however ladies and gent's when I say that the Lakers strength and dominance lies in their size.
Walking onto any basketball court will leave you looking up at whomever is at shoot-around, but being on the hardwood with the Lakers is like being in the land of the giants. Wither it's on defense or offense, the front line of the Lakers is going to wear you down.
They will alter your shots.
They will force you to take low percentage looks.
They will put-back most missed shots.
They will command double teams.
And there's not much your team can do about it.
The return of Andrew Bynum means the return of the SIZE in La-La-Land. Once he's back, every opposing team will have to reconsider if going into the paint is even worth it.
Gone are the days of Kobe taking 35 shots a night, these days he enjoys being a distributor much more than ever before.
Kobe will always have that killer instinct to score when he needs to, but these days he seems to prefer dropping dimes to cutting teammates instead. One of his favorite targets over the last few years has been none other than Andrew Bynum.
Wither it's ally-oop's or a kick out from a nasty double team, Kobe likes to set up his big man. Bynum allows Kobe to penetrate the defense, and have a reliable exit strategy if things get rough.
The return of Andrew will mean more post passes, and another man Kobe can hit on the fast break.
All of this adds up to more problems for the defense. Kobe being the great passer that he is, and Bynum being more than capable of finishing plays in stride.
The Lakers don't seem to be fighting with each other, or out of sync on the court. I'm not trying to imply that they do.
The fact remains however, that a teams chemistry is consistently better when it's main contributors are all active. Every player brings so many individual talents to his or her sport, that the loss of them on any sort of a prolonged basis will end up effecting the other members of their team.
Take Bynum's current predicament out for a spin on this theory.
His absence has caused Lamar Odom to start, Pau Gasol to play out of his natural position, and all forwards to play far too many minutes. His return will bring Odom off the bench, move Pau back to the four spot, and will allow a little more rest for everyone.
How's that for a chemistry difference?
Lamar will undoubtedly amp up the bench's production, Pau will be much more comfortable at his home-base position, and the rest will allow nagging injuries to heal properly.
The return of Andrew Bynum will bump up the Laker's chemistry grade from B- to A+.
The forwards sure look gassed these days, and the energy that Andrew will bring back with him is sure to be infectious.
I've heard that if you put a new puppy around an old dog, the old dog will live longer because it will try to act as the puppy does. The old dog gets a renewed energy that keeps it active, thus preserving life for a while. This theory can also be applied to a sports team.
Once Andrew Bynum is fully capable of contributing, his renewed energy and drive will have a ripple effect on the rest of the Lakers squad. Each player will be encouraged by what they see out of him, and it will motivate everyone to amp their production and energy level up as well.
One thing that seems to go right over fan's head's is that Andrew Bynum can be one heck of a passer himself.
He loves dropping dimes to fellow seven footer Pau Gasol via the high-low strike, and he's also quite adept at finding wing threats when the paint closes in on him. Andrew and Pau make the Lakers one of the best passing teams in the game, as big men usually can't hit the ocean when finding teammates.
With Bynum back and willing to pass out of the paint, the Lakers get back another threat that's willing to set up his very talented teammates.
As soon as Bynum can get back on the hardwood, the Lakers can go back to having a starting quality player come off the bench.
With Lamar Odom out of the starting lineup, the Lakers get deeper. Like, seven feet deeper.
Odom has always been good at creating a spark off of the bench, but his worth may stem even more from his ability to lead the new and improved bench to even loftier heights. His veteran presence on the hard wood will give the bench even more confidence in their abilities as a crew, and could result in fewer leads given up due to a lull in scoring.
One of the basic facts with the way that this Laker team is assembled, is that Kobe Bryant needs Andrew Bynum.
Yep, I said it.
Of course Bynum needs Kobe more, but the fact remains that Kobe needs Bynum.
Who won the finals in 2008 when Bynum didn't play?
Who won the next two years when Bynum did play?
Kobe Bryant can do anything he wants on the court, but he needs that size that he can delegate in the post when things are not going his way. The reality for Kobe is, the sooner Bynum can return, the sooner they can get back in the groove that keeps winning them championships.
Here you have it.
The number one reason Bynum's return will cure the ailing Lakers, is that he has quite a bit to prove this season. He's been labeled the new Mr. Glass of the league with all of his season ending injuries, and that's a reputation he wants to shed faster than an itchy sweater.
When he comes back for the Lakers (possibly later this week), expect him to make waves. His return to full form will take time, but it won't take much time for him to make a difference on the court.
He will be motivated.
He will be energized.
He will be surrounded with immense talent.
And he will help the Lakers get back to the mountain top.
I hope you enjoyed the top 12 reasons that Andrew Bynum will cure the Lakers ailing condition.
Thanks so much for the read, and enjoy this weeks hoops action!