Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.
How’s Andrew Bynum look to you? If he’s this healthy all season, what’s that mean for the Cavs’ chances?
Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: After last season, any game in which Bynum is in uniform or even in his warm-ups is a night he looks great. Bynum in a suit, noticed only for a bad haircut? That’s when things get hinky. His comments Monday about feeling “little sharp pains” in his knees and waving goodbye to his “explosiveness” are big-time causes for pause. His recovery time when games are packed tighter on the calendar is another issue. But his totals through three games — 37 minutes, 18 points, 10 rebounds, five blocks — would be an awfully good one-game line. A healthy Bynum could vault the Cavs into sixth or even fifth place in the conference, and — with Marcin Gortat, Andre Drummond, Joakim Noah, Brook Lopez, Tyson Chandler and Roy Hibbert — throw one more legit big man at Miami in the defending champs’ bid to get out of the East.
Fran Blinebury, NBA.com: As Bynum said himself, he is not as athletic and explosive and perhaps won’t ever be again. But if he can continue to get stronger and eventually play 25 minutes a night, it keeps the Cavs in the mix for that sacrificial No. 8 spot in the East.
Jeff Caplan, NBA.com: He looks as good as can be expected I suppose. Obviously Monday’s performance was his best so far. But to me he looks like a guy who knows he can’t rely on his knees for explosiveness and is always conscious of that fact, sort of like Amar’e Stoudemire. Bynum’s 26 going on 36 and he said he’s already experiencing “little, sharp pains” in his knees. Now, if he can stay relatively pain-free and play, he can be an asset off the bench — after all he is 7-feet, 285 pounds — and possibly even be a mismatch nightmare against other reserves. What Bynum has in his favor is skill. He can still be effective around the basket without necessarily being explosive, something a center like Dwight Howard can’t say.
Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: He has looked like a guy who has barely played for a year and a half. It says something when the accomplishment is just being on the court. It’s a big jump to making a dependable contribution. If he does get there, for the sake of discussion? It means a lot for the playoff hopes in Cleveland. Aiming for 18-20 minutes a game as a backup center is probably a realistic starting point anyway. If Bynum can reach that plateau, getting back to big minutes and the opening lineup is on the horizon for next season.
John Schuhmann, NBA.com: He looks big. Really, the thing that struck me first was a reminder of just how huge he is. That, by itself, is a plus defensively and on the glass, even if he’s not yet in shape. And he does also look rusty. But any minutes Bynum can provide will help keep Anderson Varejao fresh, which could be just as important as his own production. And if he’s in decent shape by January, the Cavs have a very strong frontcourt rotation and a good shot at the playoffs. It’s early, but they’re the most improved defensive team in the league thus far, a good sign for their postseason prospects.
Sekou Smith, NBA.com: Just seeing him in uniform in these first three games for the Cavaliers is a victory. I’ll admit my expectations for the big fella were basically non-existent after that fiasco in Philadelphia last season. I poured the Bynum Kool-Aid out this summer and decided to start with a fresh batch. So anything he does from this point on is a part of his fresh start as the new big fella, the one simply trying to regain his footing in the league and not become the dominant big man so many of us thought he had the potential to be earlier in his career. The Cavaliers’ chances this season do not rest on Bynum’s broad shoulders. That burden belongs to Kyrie Irving, who has to overcome his own injury issues this season and become the superstar (in training) he appears to be.
Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blog: I like his hair, which is a definite improvement over all the hairdon’ts that he sported while he was out injured. As far as on the court, he still doesn’t look 100-percent to me, like he’s still a step slow both physically and mentally — which is understandable since he had not played a game in nearly two years before this season. But if he can keep logging minutes and getting time without his injuries regressing, I’m assuming the quickness and reflexes will return. Even without those, he’s a huge body who takes up space and can affect shots and grab a board here and there, and help the Cavs make the playoffs this season. And that’s better than nothing.
Stefanos Triantafyllos, NBA.com Greece: Andrew Bynum if healthy, is one dominant post player. If you add that feature in any team in the NBA, it will raise their level automatically. In this case we are talking about the Cavs, a young team with a super-star point guard (Irving) and some solid role players like Anderson Varejao, Jarret Jack and Tristan Thompson. Yeah, Bynum is a difference maker.
Akshay Manwani, NBA.com India: He’s still a little rusty (has shot only 5-for-18 in three games). But since his minutes have increased in every successive game that he has played for the Cavs, that should give him and the Cavs’ fans a lot of confidence. And, if he’s healthy all this season – the Cavs will not only comfortably make it to the playoffs, but could either end up with home-court advantage in the first round or pull out a first-round upset against a No. 3 or No. 4 ranked team.
Philipp Dornhegge, NBA.com Deutschland: He’s said himself that he feels a sting in his knee every time he moves and that he lacks explosiveness, but his impact is undeniable. If he stays healthy, and that’s a big if, the Cavs are obviously so much better — and deeper. I had them fighting for a playoff spot on the assumption that Bynum wouldn’t play much. With him, they should be better than Milwaukee.