Bynum’s Return Just In Time For Lakers

 

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – That offseason work with famed boxing trainer Freddie Roach should come in handy for Lakers center Andrew Bynum, who will be the last player to experience the changes made to the team’s system by new coach Mike Brown.

With his body fat down to 5.1% from 9.5% and his 290-pound frame still intact, Brown will demand much more on both ends of the floor from his low-post anchor. Of course, the Lakers won’t get to unwrap their belated Christmas gift until this afternoon, when they unleash a new and improved Bynum on the Denver Nuggets at the Staples Center.

Bynum began this season serving the four-game suspension handed down after his take down of then Mavericks guard J.J. Barea during the Lakers’ final game last season, the fourth and final game of an ugly sweep at the hands of the eventual NBA champion Mavericks in the Western Conference semifinals.

So even with all of this proposed changes to Bynum’s body and the system, he won’t be able to answer any lingering questions about what he might be capable of until today.

Brown has already raised the bar, mentioning Bynum and the words All-Star in the same sentence (to The Los Angeles Times):

“From the outside looking in, you see him getting better every year and you’d think that he would get to the point where he is that,” Brown said.

With Yao Ming retired and Tim Duncan’s skill set in decline, All-Star voting will be wide open at the center position for the Western Conference.

There’s no question the Lakers are a different team with a healthy and focused Bynum on the floor.

According to NBA.com StatsCube, the Lakers allowed just 100.7 points per 100 possessions with Bynum on the floor over the previous four seasons, compared to 102.4 when Bynum was on the bench. Grated, their best defensive big-man combination during that stretch was Bynum and Lamar Odom (since traded to the Mavericks). They allowed just 97.6 points per 100 possessions with that combo on the floor from 2007-08 through 2010-11, compared to 100.8 with Odom and Pau Gasol on the floor and 103.2 with Bynum and Gasol on the floor.

Of course, the Lakers have been doing fine defensively without Bynum and Odom. Through Friday, they rank fifth in the league (behind Indiana, Atlanta, Milwaukee and Portland), allowing just 93.7 points per 100 possessions.

We’ll have to wait and see if Bynum’s return produces the sort of benefits the Lakers expect or if he continues to be the sort of enigmatic force that has drawn the ire of Lakers star Kobe Bryant at times throughout their tenure together.

There are some in Los Angels questioning the new and improved Bynum, namely Times columnist T.J. Simers, who skewered Bynum in his column after the big man ran into repeated troubles with the city’s traffic cops in recent days, and questioned if Bynum has the drive to grow up and reach his full potential on and off the court:

I had written about the need for Bynum to report back to work as a grownup after his four-game suspension. Obviously I’m not clairvoyant.

I was unaware he had been stopped by the police a day earlier as well and given a “fix-it” ticket for improperly functioning taillights and having no license plates.

Kids are known for lapses in judgment, so maybe he hasn’t grown up as much as I had hoped. The guy owns 13 cars at last count and he’s picking the one with the bad taillight and no license plates?

I am guessing it’s the toughest decision he has to make every day: Which car do I take? Can you imagine keeping track of 13 different sets of keys?

When I wrote about Bynum, I thought we’d have to wait until his return Saturday to see if he’s matured.

But after Bynum was stopped twice by the police in a span of two days while on suspension, I was curious to know whether he was holding himself accountable as an adult.

We’ll have plenty of answers to all of these questions and more after Bynum gets his season started, which couldn’t come at a better time for the Lakers.

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32 Comments

  1. Pete Perry says:

    Andrew Bynum is a great big man he plays ferocious on the inside.
    It’s great to see him back playing after his suspension.For all he
    does on the inside i agree with you.I love the size and strength
    Andrew Bynum has and his skill level is amazing he is so gifted
    as a big man center.Andrew Bynum will win at least 3 more NBA Championships
    before his career is over.He will be NBA MVP at least once and a all NBA player every year.
    He will be on many All Star teams.He already has won 2 NBA Championship
    rings.

  2. a-rodII says:

    haha barea still make that shot!!

  3. GJ says:

    STATEMENT GAME…PERIOD!!

  4. Sekou Smith says:

    It is clearly evident how valuable a center like bynum is to the Lakers. He may even be just as important as Kobe in the Laker puzzle to win the championship.

  5. Nba intelligence says:

    Injuries are apart of the game. If Dwight gets injured and cant jump out of the gym anymore, it leaves him as a undersized center with a less all-around game then Glen Davis. Sorry to say, Dwight is not even a 7 footer. Andrew is a long athletic 7 footer with a crazy array of moves.

  6. OzHeatFan says:

    Whats with all the Laker fans now bsahing D12?? 1 month ago you were all crying out to swap Bynum for Dwight!! haha such a stupid city… learn to swim… learn to swim.. learn to swim..!

  7. Fact says:

    I can see Andrew Bynum joining Kobe Bryant in the All Star Game, with his 20 10 per game, cause he would prove anyone that’s he’s better than any center in the NBA. Dwight Howard is just a poor imitation of Shaq.

  8. Nba intelligence says:

    I just watched the Lakers Nuggets game as well. All along I have been saying…The trade rumours were absolutely the best thing that could have happened to Andrew this season. Even for the Lakers. Andrew Bynum right now is playing with a purpose. People gave up on Andrew because of two “freak accidents” to his knees. They must have thought he was a Greg Oden or something….totally forgetting that at the time of BOTH injuries, he was playing at the HIGHEST level, and putting up CAREER HIGHS almost everynight leading up to the injuries. Last year Bynum played 79 games for the Lakers..This year with the added off-season, new coach, more plays ran for him, and the subtraction of Lamar Kardash- sorry Odom.. NOBODY IN THE LEAGUE CAN STOP ANDREW BYNUM! Not Dwight (we saw Andrew make lightwork of Dwight so dont argue) Nobody. So for the Dwight trade for now….id say at best, give them Gasol and Barnes…Still better than….Broke Lopez lol (sorry Brooke). Do Not Give Them ANDREW!!!! Nene? haha…Andrew made him look like…She-nay-nay

  9. LA Synz says:

    @LBJ6: I could have sworn that LBJ himself said they were going to win multiple championships last year, although he arguably came closer than any other time he had a chance to win it all (once) he failed to produce yet again. The NBA has a history of great players who never win championships and until he gets even just 1 ring, he’s not a king just a high paid court jester who knows how to entertain.

  10. LA Synz says:

    Just finished watching the Lakers play the Nuggets for the first time this season. Andrew must have been really anxious to get back to playing ball cuz he just wiped the Nuggets frontcourt off the grid with his performance. If he can stay healthy and put up numbers even close to what he did this afternoon….Dwight who?

  11. mtheory says:

    As a Lakers fan I am still not sold on Bynum even after all these years. Everyone on the team seems to be buying into Mike Brown’s defensive ideas. If Bynum can buy into that then I’ll be fine with him but he seems more interested in scoring so we’ll see what happens. Its interesting that all the off-season articles about Bynum are about his physical training and never about him adding more to his offensive arsenal, as if the kid thinks he’s good enough, that his offensive game is complete. What irked me as a fan is that fact that he felt he out-grew Kareem Abdul Jabbar’s tutelage…. if I were a player in the NBA I’d be a point guard and I’d be ecstatic having a Hall of Fame point guard acting as a personal coach on a daily basis. But we’ll see. Hopefully Bynum plays well enough to convince Otis Smith to do a Howard deal with the Lakers.

  12. oula says:

    Welcome back big fellow!!!!! Secure that paint and score easy buckets for L.A. Lakers! May God bless you.

  13. Bynum should loose some weight says:

    I know he has been loosing weight but still needs to loose even more weight. He should go from 290 to 275

  14. Pierre says:

    I’m sorry but fans don’t really give a crap about players’ lives as long as they do not affect their performances on the court. Sure, he got stopped, doesn’t mean that he will get suspended or dwell on the idea at all. All i am saying is that if thats your argument for bynum’s immaturity, you are the one being immature. Most importantly you can add absurd to that too, Mr. Simmers.

  15. somebody says:

    ppsst. of all the people you can work with during a lockout, you work with a boxer.

    You’re playing basketball kid.

    It’s not like you have a full set of skills and only need to work on your physical fitness.

    I wonder who he’ll beat up this year.

  16. LBJ6 says:

    lebron is gonna win 10 rings period dont complain

    • ???? says:

      I’m not complaining , but Lebron will have 0 Championship, don’t complain!
      10 – 10 = 0 , LMFAO

  17. LBJ6 says:

    lebron is gonna win 10 rings period

  18. Samuel says:

    Cuz,
    Glad to see you back. The Lakers have been surprisingly good without Bynum. With him, they should be in the thick of things as much as any team in the west. Should be a good game today. Denver has really surprised me, we’ll see if they’re truly ready for the big time this afternoon.

    • Sekou Smith says:

      Good to be back Steam. And I’m looking forward to seeing if Bynum finally starts playing with a chip on his shoulder, like he should.

  19. Cord says:

    Bynum looks like a 20 plus point guy this year lets just see if he can do it this year if so man can you say top D in the league and a pretty good offence can you say title contender Lakers going back to the finals lets go mia cant wait

  20. 21 says:

    Wow … really? Who gives a crap about what he does in his free time and whether he acts immature or whatever. Was Ron Artest aka Metta World Peace always a saint off the court? No. Did anyone care? No. Or Dennis Rodman or countless others … Let him be who the hell he wants to be as long as he shows up on the court.

  21. Atomic Penn says:

    Would you please teach Simers and Plashke of the LA Times how to write an analysis that is not a hatchet job? Or better yet, can the LA Times offer you a job? Good job, Mr. Smith.

  22. Giovanni says:

    bynum could get f-ed up if he goes to puerto rico for doing that to jj

  23. Ghost says:

    Poor JJ Barea.. Bynum’s gonna tenderize him again and probably eat him after that…Anyway his return doesn’t matter coz this will be OKC vs MIAMI or CHICAGO in the Finals.

  24. FAIR-BUT-TOUGH says:

    Whats with the mentioning of Bynums cars an so on?? Who cares so long as he does what his paid for otherwise trade him. I think sometimes the whole Laker plus hollywood thing gets to him.. But im a Laker fan and i just wanna see ball!

  25. Rodrigo AM says:

    Nene will eat him alive!

    • Greg says:

      I’d like to see that happen. Bynum is gonna stomp over Nene so hard, Nene won’t be able to get bafck up until the end of the season.

  26. reh says:

    niccce with bynum back the lakers will be way better!

  27. Bynum and the Lakers’ defense will be tested by a Denver offense that scores a league-high 111.3 points per game in today’s NBA Game of the Day. http://randomnbafan.com/12/31/2011/nba-game-of-the-day-denver-nuggets-at-los-angeles-lakers/

    If Bynum can protect the paint for the Lakers, provide some low-post scoring and stay healthy, Los Angeles’ transition to the Mike Brown era may go a lot more smoothly than many originally anticipated.

  28. Chuck says:

    Bynum, after doing that spectacular hit, worked with a boxing trainer over the summer? If Minni makes this year’s playoffs and plays Lakers, I fear for Barea’s life.