My knee-jerk reaction to Andrew Bynum's foul on J.J. Barea was that it was an egregious act that in no way represented the Lakers, their organization nor the fans that support them. I stick by that, but I no longer stand by the notion that he will be traded no matter the circumstances.
If you recall, I was elated with Bynum's performance in Game 3.He played tough, scored well and showed more heart than anyone on the court. He wanted to win badly, more so than any other player on that team, outside of Kobe and Fisher.
I loved the intensity, how angry he was getting at his teammates when they blew an assignment or made a bad pass. It looked like he was growing up.
Then he fouled Barea in Game 4. I was quick to forget his magnificent improvement.
As the days have passed, I've wondered whether I was right to think he should be shipped out no matter what. Now I think the only way he's leaving Los Angeles is if he's packaged for Dwight Howard
If you're a Lakers fan, you need to think long and hard about this. Could Bynum become a better center in this league than Dwight? Is it worth trading him? Bynum is 23, while Howard is 25. Bynum's offensive game is already more polished, and he can make his free throws.
A big part of Howard's game is his dominance on the boards and on the defensive end of the floor. If you watched the Lakers play after the all-star break (during their winning streak), then you noticed how Bynum changed games with his ability to alter shots and grab every rebound. Many said that had he played at that level all season, he would have been in contention for Defensive Player of the Year.
In fact, the only place Dwight Howard dominates Bynum in far and away is health. Howard has missed only seven games in his seven-year career. Bynum has missed 28, 17, 32 and 47 games since becoming a starter—that's 124 games in four seasons.
With Dwight, you know what you're going to get: a tough big man who is going to alter games on the defensive end of the floor. He can rebound better than 99 percent of the league, and he has been working on his offensive game. He's strong enough to score on dunks and put-backs alone.
With Bynum, the future is a mystery. He could blossom into the best center in the league, he can already score, he has shown that he can block and rebound with the best of them, but the question remains whether or not he will stay healthy.
This article is also featured on my personal blog, The L.A. Minute.
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