Los Angeles Lakers: Top Five Reasons Why L.A. Shouldn't Trade Andrew Bynum
With Andrew Bynum's return date postponed to Christmas, frustration has been brewing in the land of the Los Angeles Lakers, with Pau Gasol taking on most of the offensive and defensive load in the paint.
As impatience grows with the latest on Bynum's injury report, trade rumors permeate Lakers forums year after year, to the point where it's become an annual tradition to evaluate Bynum's worth to the back-to-back champions.
Many fans are left to wonder if there is a better option; a healthier, more financially frugal option to replace Drew. But here are the top five reasons why Andrew Bynum should not be traded, regardless of his injury-ridden past.
Reason #5: Centers Are a Rare Commodity
Yahoo! released an article ranking the top 10 centers for the 2010-11 season. Let's check out the list:
10. Al Jefferson
9. Marc Gasol
7. Joakim Noah
6. Chris Kaman
5. Andrew Bynum
4. Al Horford
3. Brook Lopez
2. Andrew Bogut
1. Dwight Howard
Only three of those players are currently grabbing more than 10 rebounds, half are scoring below 14 points, and three are averaging more than 1.6 blocks per game. Three are currently injured, and in all honesty, one doesn't belong on that list. (Let's see if you can figure that one out.)
In the beginning of the 2009 season, Andrew Bynum was the lone presence in the paint with Pau Gasol out for nine games due to a hamstring injury. With Gasol out, Bynum averaged 20.3 points, 11.7 rebounds, and 1.78 blocks per game. Eight of those nine games were nightly double-doubles.
Granted, there are many young players who are fast approaching the Top-10 list, but the fact of the matter is good centers are rare. With Oden sidelined for the rest of the season, and Yao Ming playing limited minutes, it's hard to find decent centers who can rebound, score and block shots on a consistent basis. As injury-prone as Bynum is, it still doesn't make sense to trade a player who can play like a top three center when he's healthy.
Reason #4: Let Pau Play Power
Pau Gasol is not a center.
In spite of his 15 double-doubles over a span of 20 games this season, the Spaniard is struggling against gritty centers who like to play hardball. Games against the Bulls, Pacers, and Nuggets exploited this weakness as Noah, Hibbert and Nene had their way by getting physical under the rim.
But while many remark negatively on the recent regression in Gasol's "toughness," fans must keep in mind that Gasol is a finesse player. His defense has gotten better, and he's certainly become more physical in the post, but overall, his true game is not against centers.
He hits the mid-range, scores from the post with either hand, and finishes off of passes from Kobe Bryant for the one-two punch that we've all become accustomed to. Gasol simply thrives in the power forward position. He may be versatile, but this is his area of expertise.
As Bynum comes back to the starting line-up, we can expect to see Gasol with his usual production as our Renaissance Man returns to his natural position.
Reason #3: Send Odom To The Bench. That's Deep.
Lamar Odom has been playing one of the greatest seasons in his career, averaging 10.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 15.3 points per game.
But more than his All-star performance, perhaps one of the biggest factors this year in chasing a three-peat is the bench.
Sadly, the depth of the current Los Angeles Lakers' roster is as deep as a kiddie pool. With Andrew Bynum and Theo Ratliff on the DNP list, Pau Gasol fills in the void with extensive minutes, and Odom must come to the starting line-up to fill in the power forward position.
The Killer B's have been commended for their superb performance, but in an 82-game season, no one can have a great game every night. We've seen the games where the bench failed to show up, and there were no other scoring options for the Lakers' second unit.
Ratliff is a defensive specialist before anything. Like Ron Artest, Theo was brought in to hold the Lakers' defense to a greater level without regard to their lack of offensive game.
Derrick Caracter, though he may prove to be a great investment in the future, has not been able to play up to par. Once the killer B's run out of sting, the Lakers are in need of a strong offensive presence that can only be found in Lamar Odom.
Reason #2: Bynum Is a Two-Time Champion
There's something about being a champion that gives you an edge over other players, whether it's the Finals experience, being able to handle the pressure, or some other intangible factor.
If that truly is the case, let's not forget that Andrew Bynum is a two-time champion.
As silly of an argument as that may seem, the absence of Bynum cost the Los Angeles Lakers their title in 2008. Without the big man to guard the paint, once again, Pau Gasol came in to fill Bynum's shoes, but Gasol just didn't fit. The Lakers lost game 6 in a humiliating 39-point game.
In the 2009 NBA Finals, Dwight Howard only had 43 touches in five games, and was kept to a surprisingly low 15.4-point average for the Finals. Had Gasol played center, those statistics would be drastically different by now.
Even in 2010, Bynum's limited minutes kept the Lakers and Boston series close, allowing the match-up to go to a game 7 where four points decided the final outcome.
With Drew's two appearances in the Finals, the Lakers have been able to capitalize on both opportunities, while suffering a great loss in his 2008 absence.
Reason #1: Defense, Defense, Defense
Derek Fisher is well past his prime, and in spite of his clutch performances in the playoffs, his regular season game is just sub-par. His defense is almost non-existent, and fans are desperately seeking a solution against speedy guards.
The Los Angeles Lakers have yet to find an answer for the outcry this season, and Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom on the front court have been unable to defend against the much smaller point-guards.
In the Lakers' four game losing streak, Mike Conley exploded for a season-high 28 points, Kevin Martin for 22 points, and Deron Williams for 29 points. Many of these shots were easy lay-ups and opportunities under the rim that should have been nullified by a dominant big man.
With Fisher rendered useless, the last line of defense against the quicker guards is Andrew Bynum's presence and shot-blocking abilities.
Conclusion: Stop The Trade Rumors
The Bynum trade talks are becoming tiresome. Surely Bynum's injuries have been a thorn in the Lakers' side, but the contributions he brings to the team far outweighs the cons of having an injury-prone player.
The biggest challenge this season will be to keep the players healthy in time for the playoffs. Whether Drew can make it through the next four months is a mystery of its own, but let's hope that come June, we can look back and see that it was worth paying the cost for a big return.