Will Andrew Bynum Be The Top Center of the Next Decade?

Matt SmithCorrespondent INovember 13, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 30:  Andrew Bynum #17 of the Los Angeles Lakers dunks against Dallas Mavericks during the NBA basketball game at Staples Center on October 30, 2009 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 Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

I know it's early in the season, but have you seen Andrew Bynum?  

This young man is coming of age, showing skills, solid footwork, and great hands, he's got the look of an All-Star.  So I ask this question, knowing I may be putting premature pressure on the big fella: can he be the best center in the league?  

As of now that title belongs to Dwight Howard aka Superman 2 and deservedly so.  

Howard is the best defensive big man in the league and is an explosive athlete who is developing his offensive game.  Howard is also a gold medalist and the leader of a franchise which comes with much more pressure than Mr. Bynum has to deal with.

That being said, when I look at the current level of both players and their potential to improve (if both remain healthy), I see Bynum having more upside.  It seems to me that Howard relies on his superior athleticism to dominate his opponent while Bynum looks to have superior touch and footwork.  Being the better athlete can be effective, but that doesn't last as long as having great skills.  

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, it has been well publicized, has been Bynum's personal coach for a few years, and it appears to have paid off.  Bynum, the youngest player ever to be drafted to the NBA, has developed quite the offensive game and is only getting better.

On the defensive side of the ball Bynum needs to improve his effort.  He seems to like scoring more than defending but he has the ability to be a shot blocker.   

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So let's look at the tale of the tape:

Howard has been starring in the league and has a head start on the development curve, is the more explosive athlete, is stronger, and is a better defender.

Bynum is the bigger player, has better footwork, touch, and offensive range, but needs to work on his defensive intensity.  He needs a little bit of a mean streak when defending the paint.  

Both look like great rebounders, Howard is the better shot blocker, and Bynum the better free throw shooter.

Another true center that could enter the discussion is Portland's Greg Oden.  He is already a great shot blocker and defender, but he needs to develop his offensive game.  As of now he seems to be behind both Bynum and Howard in his development.  

Who do you think will be the best big man of the next decade?  Please comment, I would love to hear your opinions.