Both the Portland Trail Blazers and the Los Angeles Lakers surpassed expectations last season and with both teams expecting returns from their young stars this upcoming season, their goals are even higher.
Last year, the two highly touted prospects suffered untimely knee surgeries that prematurely ended their seasons—in Greg's case before it ever got underway.
Bynum averaged 13.1 PPG, 10.2 RPG, 2.1 BPG midway through his breakout season.
Along with Kobe Bryant and Lamar Odom, Bynum was the catalyst of the Lakers offense.
Originally estimated as 6 weeks for his recovery time, Andrew was held out of the remainder of the regular season and the postseason for fear of coming back undeveloped and re-aggravating the knee.
After the Lakers learned of Bynum's injury, Los Angeles masked their hole in their frontcourt by acquiring Spaniard Pau Gasol from the Grizzlies at the deadline in the most popular trade in the NBA last season.
Los Angeles steamrolled their way to the Finals last season, and many fans and critics around the league felt that if Bynum would have returned, it would have been a completely different series with an equally different outcome.
However, many overlook Andrew's injury and how it was actually a blessing in disguise.
If the former high school phenom never would have been sidelined, Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak would not have conversed with Memphis and pulled the trigger on the Gasol deal.
While unquestionably, Bynum returning to the starting lineup will benefit the Lakers, it won’t drastically change the style of play the Lakers have been playing or be a monumental event.
The Lakers were already the best team in the Western Conference, finishing fourth in points per game, first in defensive rebounds, and fifth in the league in blocks per game last season
Los Angeles received good news last week when Andrew Bynum was quoted as saying “My knee is 100% healthy.”
The spectacle after the Summer League last year cost Greg Oden his first year of eligibility as a pro, crushing fans and General Manager Ken Pritchard's pipe dreams of postseason play.
However, Greg is finally healthy and has been competing in team scrimmages after being held out of action for more than 7 months.
Lebron James's face apparent, Oden averaged 15.7 PPG, 9.6 RPG, 3.3 BPG in his only season as a collegiate pro with the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Second year player Lamarcus Aldridge gained the most from Oden’s absence, averaging 17.6 PPG, 7.6 RPG, and 1.2 BPG last season, but could not imitate the shot blocking, intimidating force that is Greg Oden.
As a result, the Blazers were bullied on the boards, and for the third time in the last four seasons, Portland was out-rebounded by their opponents.
The Blazers were simply atrocious on defense last season—23rd in defensive rebounds per game, 18th in offensive rebounds per game, 25th in total rebounds per game, and eighth in opponents points scored against.
Opponents also shot an inviting 45.1% from the field, translating into headaches for head coach Nate McMillan. For those very reasons, Greg Oden will have the bigger impact returning this season.
Standing 7'1" and weighing 270lbs, Oden runs the floor exceptionally well for a big man and brings a passion to the game that is heavily envied by coaches and general managers around the NBA.
He uses his length to frustrate and disorientate fellow big men, as well as to effortlessly hoard rebounds off the glass.
His commitment and dedication to basketball is unmatched, evident of his signature ''volleyball diving'' like blocks against the opposition.
The former High School Player of the Year has been itching to step back onto the hardwood, since his impressive Summer League debut, last July.
On an unrelated note, the duo become free agents after this season, but to put all speculations to rest, it appears the teenage towers won't be departing their teams anytime soon.
Although out of the realm of fantasy, could you imagine Andrew and Greg on the same team, or even in the same division?
All patched up and fully recovered from knee surgeries, Greg Oden and Andrew Bynum look to make their highly anticipated returns to center stage on the league's opening day, October 28.
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