HANG TIME PLAYOFF HEADQUARTERS – Is anyone else still waiting for the recently crowned (at least by some) “best big man” in basketball to show himself in the Thunder-Lakers Western Conference semifinals?
We’ve yet to see the dominant force that Andrew Bynum was billed to be heading into this postseason. You remember the arguments for him overtaking Dwight Howard as the most dominant low-post force in the league. All of that bluster has faded with each minute of decent-but-far-from-dominant outing from the largest man still working in these playoffs.
No one is denying that Bynum has the potential to be whatever it is he wants to be. The talent, skill and behemoth size package remain in place. But this notion that Bynum was going to use this postseason to cement his place atop the totem pole of the league’s best big men has turned out to be little more than an urban myth.
He’s not even the big man having the biggest impact in this Thunder-Lakers series. That honor belongs to Thunder power forward and the league’s shot blocking king Serge Ibaka. In fact, Bynum doesn’t even rank in the top four of big men in this postseason, not with Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett dominating like it’s 1999 and Pacers All-Star center Roy Hibbert making life miserable for the Heat in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
The Bynum defenders will argue that his numbers in two games against the Thunder (20 points, 11.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks) indicate a much more dominant performer than we’re giving him credit for being. But this would be a clear case of the numbers lying about his true impact on this series.
He hasn’t had any consistent stretch of dominance in the first two games that lasted longer than three consecutive possessions. If the Lakers have designs on winning Game 3 tonight at Staples Center (10:30 ET, ESPN), that needs to change.
The stage is set for Bynum to assert himself in this series. Kendrick Perkins is playing with a sore hip. If ever there was a time to go on the attack, it’s now for Bynum and the Lakers, who must decide if playing through their twin towers (Pau Gasol is the other one — when he shows up).
They did it in that Game 7 win over Denver, clearly a much different opponent that the Thunder. But the blueprint for what needs to be done is there.
We’ll see tonight if Bynum has what it takes to be the big man so many claim him to be …