Andrew Bynum Returns: His Value To the Lakers More Evident Than Ever

Joshua SextonSenior Analyst IIDecember 15, 2010

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 17:  Kevin Garnett #5 of the Boston Celtics shoots the ball over Andrew Bynum #17 of the Los Angeles Lakers in Game Seven of the 2010 NBA Finals at Staples Center on June 17, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.  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 Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Andrew Bynum made his season debut Tuesday night in a victory against the Washington Wizards. Bynum played a total of 17 minutes, scoring seven points and blocking two shots. While those numbers certainly aren't jaw dropping, Bynum's return was immediately felt. Especially by Pau Gasol's ailing body.

In the three games prior to Bynum's return on Tuesday, Gasol had played 40, 45 and 42 minutes, respectively. In Tuesday night's win against the Wizards, Gasol played a total of 30 minutes. By playing 17 minutes, Bynum gave Gasol some much needed rest. Gasol has been forced to play an average of 40 minutes a game this season, while Bynum recovered from knee surgery. The extended minutes have led to fatigue for Gasol, which has affected his overall play.

In addition, the return of Bynum seemed to also increase the confidence of the other Lakers. The team had its most complete victory in what seems like months. While beating the undermanned Wizards is nothing to brag about, the Lakers have struggled recently to force their will on inferior teams. So, the double digit victory was much appreciated by fans.

Obviously, when Bynum is at full strength, the benefits for the Lakers are endless. Some would even argue they are unbeatable. However, as Tuesday's game showed, any Bynum is better than no Bynum. Just ask Pau Gasol.