Is Andrew Bynum on his way to becoming the most dominant basketball big-man in America? I believe he is.
If he can stay healthy, then the lake is the limit. He’ll roll as far as the mighty waters will carry him. He’s been showing flashes of dominance since he was 18 years old.
I saw him swatting Kendrick Perkins’ shot into the crowd during the last game against Boston in Beantown. I believe Bynum’s play prompted Danny Ainge to find other options at center—even though Shaq and Jermaine O’Neal are there.
Bynum’s defense forced the Celtics to make roster moves in hopes of contending with him in the Finals. I can see Ainge waking up in a cold sweat after seeing visions of Bynum’s steady progression to a dominant force.
By the time the NBA Finals roll around this year—Ainge was probably thinking—Bynum will be a one man wrecking crew in the lane.
Only 23 years old, he is the future face of the Lakers. He turns 24 on October 27. The front office has heard requests from other teams to gain his services, but have ignored them all.
In 2005, Big Drew was drafted 10th overall by the Lakers out of St. Joseph’s High School in Metuchen, New Jersey. As a senior in high school, he averaged 22 points, 16 rebounds and 5 blocks and was a McDonald’s All-American.
He was considering the University of Connecticut until he made himself eligible for the NBA draft. At 17 years old, he broke Jermaine O’Neal’s record by 12 days and became the youngest player drafted by into the NBA.
In the season opener, he played six minutes and became the youngest player to see action in an NBA game. He was barely 18—a time when most of America’s youth are making arrangements for the senior prom.
The following year, he was still prominent in NBA history. Being the last high school player drafted by an NBA team, he was still the youngest player in the league. The league has since then introduced a policy whereby players straight out of high school aren't eligible to be drafted.
Not many teenagers, though, have pulled off drop step spin moves with a chicken wing elbow for a dunk on Big Shaq. But as Kobe warmly calls him—Big Bynum did on January 15, 2006 in Miami. Andrew left Shaq—then with the Heat—wondering if he should close the door because a windy draft was blowing by him.
Drew then slipped Shaq an elbow while they ran back down the court after the play. Shaq retaliated and both got teed up for technical fouls. Kobe stepped in between the two. It was like Bynum was consciously sending a message.
Playing in a game 11 days later, he snatched 16 rebounds and blocked seven shots against the Bobcats in Charlotte. The message was clear. Big Bynum will someday absolutely dominate play in the paint.
He signed a four-year, $58 million contract in 2008 after averaging a governing 13 points, 10 rebounds and 2.6 blocks. On January 21, 2009, he slammed the Clippers with 42 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks.
Bynum was blamed for fracturing Gerald Wallace’s rib in a game. Wallace was diagnosed with a 30-40 percent collapsed lung after Bynum flagrant fouled him. Or at least that’s what the referees ruled it. “Crash” Wallace is fine, now, thanking God and playing in Portland.
It begs the question of how aggressive Wallace will be against the Lakers going forward, having to face them three or four times per year. I’ll be watching and will let my readers in on what's up.
With all eyes Bynum, he played the playoff season in 2009 with a torn meniscus and strained Achilles. In comparison, Tony Parker went on the shelf with a strained calf this week. Sure, the Spurs have a huge lead in the race for the No. 1 seed, but they still need to win as many games as possible.
Drew won accolades from his coaches, teammates, opponents and fans for gutting it out and helping bring home the trophy against the Celtics. He came down awkwardly on Perkins in the paint in Game 6, and the latter was left sprawled in the lane in pain.
Perkins was considered one of the most intimidating centers in the NBA and a defensive stopper on the low blocks. The Celtics love to claim the starting five anchored by Perkins had never lost a playoff series.
The Lakers could make the same claim about Bynum in the starting lineup the last two years. While he was injured, they lost to the Celtics in 2008. Already a two-time champion, he’s still improving with each game it seems—a trademark of his huge upside.
In the last game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, he spanked Serge Ibaka’s 15-foot jumper into photographer’s row. It was the most up-to-date eye-popping block from Drew, and it came in spite of a ball fake from Ibaka.
The Congolese native was last seen by the nation taking off from the free-throw line—farther than either Air Jordan or Dr. J—and dunking. Several observers declared Ibaka was robbed of the NBA Dunk Contest trophy, but he couldn’t fly over Big Drew.
The biggest improvement in Bynum’s game is his footwork. He’s been displaying fiery feet on his spin moves on offense and in blocking shots on defense.
If this trend continues, then he’ll soon be the most dominant big man in the league—a Lakers trademark. In the 1940s, George Mikan became the NBA’s first and helped the Lake Show establish the first dynasty in the league.
I call them the Mighty Lakers for good reason. They're two-time defending champions, and Bynum will be the most dominant center in the league in two years.
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