Pau Gasol's Injury Is Exactly What Andrew Bynum Needed

Will Ayers Jr.Contributor IINovember 15, 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

The Lakers 7-2 start without star big man Pau Gasol should serve as a wake up call to everyone around the league who believed Andrew Bynum could not be a dominate big man in the NBA.Β 

One of the reasons for Bynum's emergence is the absence of Gasol. Bynum has become the second option in the triangle offense, which has made the fourth-year big man more aggressive.The 22-year-old center has averaged 20.9 points and 11.9 rebounds through nine games, which is why the Lakers sit atop the Pacific Division with the Phoenix Suns.

Bynum's biggest impact has come on the boards. In games against potential playoff opponents like Dallas, Phoenix, Oklahoma City, and Denver, Bynum averaged 9.6 rebounds on the defensive end.

Stopping second chance points is exactly what you need in a conference that plays home to seven of the NBA's top 10 scoring teams. This is something that many had concerns about following Gasol's hamstring injury.

Bynum has also dominated the Western Conference's premiere centers. Against Chris Kaman, Erik Dampier, Nene and Channing Frye, Bynum averaged 21.2 points and 13.2 rebounds.

The budding star also held them to an average of nine points in each contest. These early numbers are a reflection of Bynum's new and improved aggressive play, something that he always seemed to lack.

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If Bynum continues his stellar play, he will probably make his first All-Star appearance, a nightmare for teams trying to dethrone the defending champs.

It will be interesting to see how Gasol and Bynum gel because the Lakers now have two legitimate second options in the low post. Either Bynum will revert to his passive demeanor or he will solidify the Lakers as the best low post team in the NBA.

Regardless, this is an issue that any coach in the NBA would love to have.

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