NBA Playoffs 2011: Why the West Needs to Fear L.A. Lakers X-Factor, Andrew Bynum

Rich FernandesCorrespondent IApril 11, 2011

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 31:  Andrew Bynum #17 of the Los Angeles Lakers turns from the defense of Tyson Chandler #6 of the Dallas Mavericks at Staples Center on March 31, 2011 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 Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

Ouch! The L.A. Lakers’ are on an atrocious and untimely five game losing streak with the playoffs just around the corner, and their grip on the second seed is loosening substantially by the minute. 

The sky seems to be falling down on Tinsel Town with just two games left in the regular season.

Next at bat are the San Antonio Spurs and on deck are the Sacramento Kings, and both are capable of beating the fumbling, bumbling Lakers—the Spurs will play them hard like it’s game seven of the championship final and the Kings will play them as if they’ve got nothing to lose.

Gasp! Their current horrendous losing streak has completely overshadowed the incredible string of wins the Lakers soldiered through during the month of March that almost landed them the No. 1 seed.

Sigh! And the Miami Heat just kicked the hell out of the Boston Celtics’ collective butts and despite Chicago’s success as the No. 1 seed, Miami is on a momentum run with only three losses in their last 16 games. 

The Heat are fulfilling their end of the bargain as they forge a blazing path toward the Heat-Or-Three-Peat’s 2010-11 NBA climax.

But will the Lakers bring their three-peat bid to the NBA finals?

The answer to that question is “yes” because simply put, the answer is Andrew Bynum.

Andrew Bynum is a throwback to the Jurassic period of the 80’s and 90’s when T-Rex like monsters, including Hakeem the Dream and Patrick Ewing, roamed the NBA hardwood floor with earth shattering thuds at every step. 

These mighty beasts are all but extinct in today’s game, as Shaquille O’Neal has lost his edge and other than Bynum, only Dwight Howard has that killer combination of size, strength and both offensive and defensive dominance. 

After Howard, however, the pickings are very slim and include young blood like DeMarcus Cousins, JaVale McGee and Roy Hibbert who are all loaded with “big man” potential, but still lack the fortitude to dominate at this point in their careers.   

But X-Factor Bynum brings much more to the table than even Howard. Not only does Bynum have the size, physique and talent to dominate—but he also has the playoff and championship experience to boot.

More importantly, Bynum is on a tear and his game is coming together like we’ve never seen before. Not only is he the big reason the Lakers almost took the No. 1 seed away from the Spurs with phenomenal play last month, but Bynum has been the most consistent and dominant Laker, even during the five game losing streak. 

In fact, he has had only one bad game in all of March and April and has been so dominant on the boards; pulling down more than 16 rebounds (twice); 17 rebounds (thrice); 18 rebounds (once); and 23 rebounds (once).

How will the competition measure up to the Lakers during the playoffs?

The New Orleans Hornets and Denver Nuggets are two very good teams who are just too undersized, and as a result, are a complete size mismatch with the Lakers.

The Mavericks have length but their offense is too dependent on Dirk Nowitzki and Bynum had his way and then some with Tyson Chandler in their last meeting, grabbing 13 boards and scoring 18 points.  

Dallas looks great on paper and during the regular season, but come playoff time, that team is scary soft.

The Lakers seem to own the Spurs who seem to be stumbling themselves after a great season, and Bynum pulled down 17 boards in their last meeting. Tim Duncan may prove to be the Spurs X-Factor, but it’s hard to look past the length of the Lakers.

The OKC Thunder have a lot of youth and energy—not to mention two superstars in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.  Also, having Kendrick Perkins in the mix definitely makes this team a strong and dangerous contender in the West—and they just walloped the Lakers by a score of 120 to 106. 

But Bynum certainly out-dueled Kendrick Perkins on the boards (13 rebounds to five) and at the rim (12 points to two). The other Lakers need to get their acts together on a consistent basis.

The scariest of all the Western teams, however, appears to be the Portland Trail Blazers

Gerald Wallace is the gutsiest player in the league and that team is full of defensive stalwarts including Camby, Mathews, Batum and Aldridge.

But the key to beating even the Blazers will be the X-Factor, Andrew Bynum.

Consequentially, Bynum is bad news for every team the Lakers will face in the playoffs whether they get that second seed or not—the Lakers’ combination of length, talent, attitude and playoff experience will be too much for these teams to overcome in a seven game series.

Especially since nobody else has an Andrew Bynum.


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