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Andrew Bynum, passing fancy

In 35 minutes of burn a night, Andrew Bynum is averaging 18.5 points on fewer than 13 shots. He's Andrew Bynum dunks against the Wizards shooting nearly 60% from the floor, and making a hair under 75% of his free throws. And while he still occasionally has lapses in aggressiveness on the glass, his 10.2 boards a night are good for ninth in the league. Best of all, he's showing greater awareness on the defensive end on pick and rolls, and despite increased playing time over last season is fouling less often.

And he just turned 22. Forgot about that.

He is, in short, (to get with the ever growing holiday spirit) quite literally the gift that should keep on giving to Lakers fans for another decade-plus. What makes him such an exciting player, though, is how much more he can improve and mature. Offensively, we've noted a tendency for Bynum to get shot happy at times, occasionally forcing the ball or holding it too long without awareness of double teams. He's a good passer when he remembers, but it's fair to say Bynum occasionally gets some tunnel vision.

Before Tuesday's game against the Hornets, I asked Phil Jackson if the coaching staff is encouraging him to be more willing to move the ball, to post and re-post, and so on:

"We've always asked our centers to be passers. If they're outside the lane and catch the ball they're passers until the cutters have gone by or until their passing opportunities have evaporated. You always have a relief pass or a lag pass to re-post if you need it. Drew's been very anxious to score. I don't know if anxious is the right word, but he's been real interested in scoring and likes that aspect of the game. A lot of players do, and you can't blame kids for wanting to score. So as the defense starts to come down and trap him and double team him and stuff, he has to get the ball out more and more and re-post, and find another way to get it in. Or we get it in there. So yes, the answer (to whether or not we're encouraging him to pass more freely) is yes."

After the game, one in which he scored 21 points on 9-10 shooting, I put the same question to Bynum. His response was pretty straightforward. He's not much for the nuance PJ seems to touch on above:

"If I'm inside the paint, I'm not really looking to pass. Just because, first of all you're dealing with (the) three seconds (violation) and second of all I'm within range of striking distance for me. If I'm outside the box, I'm looking to pass the ball, but we need a lot more motion. I think whenever I get the ball or Pau gets the ball or Kobe gets the ball on the block, everybody kind of stands, so we've got to work on that."

So the subtleties of kicking out and re-establishing position? Swinging the rock a little more? Bynum smiled. "Well, you know for me, being the third player on this team or fourth player on any given night, if I'm inside the paint, I'm looking for an opportunity (to score). You don't get too many."

Subtext: If I give it up, I may not get it back.

Those of us who have actively campaigned for more touches down low, whether to Bynum or Pau Gasol (or Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom, or any others in the army of dudes they can deploy near the bucket) certainly understand the sentiment. I can't entirely blame Bynum for wanting to take his crack when he gets it. A) he's right- the ball too often doesn't come back inside once it leaves the post. B) the dude is shooting nearly 60%. Good things generally happen when he hoists. C) When a big runs the floor and establishes good position, it's good basketball etiquette to let him touch the rock.

Note: C may not apply to the NBA's Kwame Brown, Hasheem Thabeet, and Chuck Hayes types. But I digress..

Just as it is with Kobe, in the big picture Bynum's aggressive offensive instincts are a positive. They help push him to improve. Kid likes to score. No worries, that's a handy skill to have. As long as it doesn't scuttle the other stuff- mainly rebounding and defense- everybody's a winner. Most 22 year-olds, particularly young scorers, don't automatically master what PJ is talking about above. It takes time to learn how passing up a decent shot early in the clock can lead to a better one later, or even three or four more down the road. It's one of those circle of life deals.

Since the preseason, I've said/written repeatedly that one of Jackson's biggest challenges will be to placate so many talented players as the season progresses. Obviously Bynum's continued development plays a big role in that equation. If he's defending well, does he play more fourth quarters? How does that impact Lamar Odom? Do guys give up their shots? It's important not to forget about Gasol, too. He'll share, but needs "his," too.

For Bynum, handling all of this will require maturity. I think he has it, but the guys around him will have to guide as well. But assuming all the parts continue working together- I see no reason why they won't, particularly if the team continues to win, the level of dominance the Lakers will be capable of displaying any given night could be overwhelming. And they're pretty good now.

BK

 
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BK,

Nice write-up.

I'm sure Laker Tom will be pleased

In all seriousness, most Championship teams have two powerhouse players in their starting lineup. We've got four in our starting lineup and a player who would start on any other team in the NBA coming off the bench.

Wow. Just plain Wow.

Honestly, how many centers in the NBA are better than Andrew Bynum? I think the only player that you can say is hands-down better than Bynum is Dwight Howard, everybody else is just a subject for debate.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!

Kobe and Fisher should be the ones adjusting; the team has the most to gain by shifting some of their shots to Bynum (or Gasol). Gasol is as good as Bynum inside, and the number of shots taken by Artest and Odom aren't that many.

Not a lot, 2-3 fewer shots per game for Kobe and Fisher and 2-3 more per game for Bynum and Gasol would result in an extra 1-2 points per game, which is significant over an entire season.

Bynum is a good player today, give him another 5 years, and he will be one of the greatest centers ever in the NBA. Let's be patient.

Phil has a good problem. So many weapons.

"If I'm inside the paint, I'm not really looking to pass. Just because, first of all you're dealing with (the) three seconds (violation) and second of all I'm within range of striking distance for me. If I'm outside the box, I'm looking to pass the ball, but we need a lot more motion. I think whenever I get the ball or Pau gets the ball or Kobe gets the ball on the block, everybody kind of stands, so we've got to work on that."

So the subtleties of kicking out and re-establishing position? Swinging the rock a little more? Bynum smiled. "Well, you know for me, being the third player on this team or fourth player on any given night, if I'm inside the paint, I'm looking for an opportunity (to score). You don't get too many."

----------------------------------

Count me in as one of the fans who would love to see Bynum pass a little more, but everything he says is 100% correct.

FEED THE BEAST!

BK, AK,

Little off topic, but doesn't anyone think it's time to put to rest the idea that the Lakers committed highway robbery in the Gasol trade? Marc Gasol is not exactly a candidate for chopped liver of the year award. Dude clearly has potential.

15/10 with a 21 PER this year and he is still a baby.. Not that I would take back the trade, but it clearly doesn't look like a bad move by either team at this point. I only care because the haters like to act like the Lakers get everything handed to them on a silver platter, or that there is some kind of conspiracy.

But the fact is that while the Lakers might not have won a championship last year without Pau, they clearly would have been contenders with Bynum healthy. The story-line this year would be about how huge and talented the Lakers front line is and everyone would be giving Mitch credit for an incredible rebuild job after drafting Bynum 10th in 2005 and Gasol 48th(!!) in 2007.

This team rebuilt itself the old fashioned way, drafting and developing incredible talent (despite low draft picks) and trading some of those pieces for players that were a better fit.

~Thomas

I just hope Socks don't get a big head from his success. It is great he is so good at 22 but at the same time worried that he may either plateau by becoming complacent or fight to make the Lakers 'his' team. As all of you know, not everybody has Kobe work ethic but Bynum seems to have his head straight so I'm not worried much. Last thing I want is another "this is MY team" smackdown between teammates on a championship team. Wait Bynum wait, the Lakers will be yours in a few years.

From espn.com -


The Lakers can set an NBA record when they host the Heat on Friday. The Lakers have scored at least 100 points and held their opponent below 100 in each of their past seven games. That equals the longest such streak in NBA history, a mark set by the Bucks in January 2001.

One additional factor that a lot of people forget is how little HIGH SCHOOL basketball experience Drew had. He only played two out of four high school seasons, and had much less experience in AAU ball than the typical blue-chip prospect. Combine that with being at the end of the bench his rookie season, plus having his past two seasons abbreviated by injury, and this really only gives him four full years of playing hoops out of the past eight. His ceiling is very, very high. He just turned 22, he's 7-1 with a 7-6 wingspan, he has soft hands, he's eager to learn, he is with a professional organization that demands excellence, and he's surrounded by high-quality teammates with good work habits.
http://www.forumblueandgold.com/2009/07/26/andrew-bynum-vs-future-hall-of-famer/

Glad folks see Bynum for what he is:

1) Among the best current NBA centers

2) Potential Hall of Fame

WHATS UP DOC:

You wrote: "Bynum is a good player today, give him another 5 years, and he will be one of the greatest centers ever in the NBA. Let's be patient."

It took Kareem more than half his life (high school, college & NBA) to be recognized as one of the greatest, if not the greatest ever. It seems you had an emotional high for a brief moment when you made the above remark. I find your statement to be rather off the cuff but you are entitled to your moment of revelation :)

I see Bynum as a great scoring center near and around the basket. He is a defensive presence primarily because of his length but not because of the primordial beastly attitude when it comes to defense.

One missing point: Bynum often gets the ball after Fisher brings it up, passes to Kobe, and Kobe dribbles off the pick and roll. That's all fine and good, but it takes time off the clock that precludes the ball going into Drew, back out to a guard and then BACK into the post. So, Drew is right to think that passing it back out means it won't come back in.

The high pick and roll in the triangle (by high I mean top of the key) is really a waste of time. Player movement tends to stop, and you bring a big guy away from the basket where he is less of a threat to score or rebound. In places, it works fine, but I'd love to see this play become a smaller part of the offense and see Fisher's (or Kobe's) first pass in the offense be into the post. Then, if Drew doesn't pass it out and forces a shot, he could rightly be criticized.

That said, the kid can be shot happy and yet he still manages to hit 60% from the floor. The future is bright, indeed.

"Subtext: If I give it up, I may not get it back. "

and that's the reason Lamar will be in the fourth quarter over Bynum (for now) to finish close games.

Let's ignore Bynum for a second and focus on Phil.

Phil said: Drew's been very anxious to score. I don't know if anxious is the right word, but he's been real interested in scoring and likes that aspect of the game. A lot of players do, and you can't blame kids for wanting to score.

my response: That is incredible! He understands his player. Understands
what he wants out of the player. Patiently working with him, teaching him
the game. *WHILE* he's guiding the Lakers to a repeat. 10 rings! My man!
Pimp Daddy!

Go Lakers!
GO Phil Jackson!!!

BK
- - - - - - - - -
I think my swine flu just got a little better. LOL. Thanks for the superb article on Drew. What really grabs my attention every time that Drew is interviewed is just how very damn smart this kid really is. Drew has a basketball IQ that completely belies both his age and experience playing the game. When you combine that level of game smarts with his physical tools and talents, the sky is really the limit.

Basketball intelligence is also an area that that the Lakers outpace the rest of the NBA, starting with Kobe Bryant, who is in my opinion, the savviest player in the entire NBA. You then add Pau Gasol, who has to be one of the most cerebral guys to ever play in the NBA. Watching him reminds me at times of the great cerebral power forwards of the past – Rick Barry, Jerry Lucas, Dave DeBusschere.

Add young Andrew Bynum, who has to be the smartest young player in the game, the inimitable Ron Artest and his Machiavellian defensive instincts, and co-captain Derek Fisher, the player whom 30% on the NBA general managers voted as the player most likely to become a successful NBA head coach, and you have the smartest team in the NBA. The biggest, toughest, longest, smartest, and best.

I am still enjoying those Points in the Paint stats to which Thomas was so kind to alert us. It is not very often that team’s entire basketball strategy can be essentially encapsulated by a single set of stats but that is what the Top 5 players in the league in scoring points in the paint does, with Drew Bynum tops at 14.3 ppg and Kobe and Pau right behind with 12.3 and 12.2 ppg. Pound the ball in the paint.

The Lakers have finally come together and are playing the kind of basketball we have dreamed of. Tonight, we need to continue playing what is quickly becoming known around the league as Lakers basketball and pound the ball inside the paint. If we do, we will post our 8th straight double-digit win while holding our opponent below 100 points. We have the formula. We just need to apply it.

Bring on Dwayne Wade and the Miami Heat. The Lakers are locked and loaded and ready to rock.
- - - - - - - - -
Tom

"Well, you know for me, being the third player on this team or fourth player on any given night, if I'm inside the paint, I'm looking for an opportunity (to score). You don't get too many."

While it's still only talk its good Bynum realizes his ROLE on this team (and hopefully) he keeps it up and knows when to defer.

I'd be more inclined to listen to what he says about his role on this team than his own fans (mainly the extreme ones) says.

What I want to see is Bynum just going OFF some night... forget passing or subtext or any of that stuff. I just want to see the guy put up 40 or 50 points, nonstop dunks, posterizing anybody in the way, monster domination. I know it's not the team way, "the system" and and all that. I totally get it. Understood. Disciplined basketball wins championships. Check. But I still want to see Drew have one of those insane nights on national TV.

I appreciate the Dude's comment. A lot has been made of how many NBA minutes Kobe has on his clock at his young age. How many minutes does 'Drew have on his clock? Zippo in comparison. Experience is the great teacher. He is a very talented 3rd grader. He will move so quickly up the grades as his experience grows it will astonish us all. As noted, a level headed approach by all will help him get to where he should be. Everyone wants to score but, as he develops his game, the defense (and the accolades that follow bein' a stopper) will come to the forefront, too.

Hobbit,

You must be mistaken. Phil Jackson doesn't know the first thing about developing players. He just rolls out a talented squad and sits around and does nothing! OK - I don't believe that but the haters do. Your comment is spot on in my book!

Cheers,
Eagle Boy

Am I just being nit-picky, but somehow I feel Drew still lacks that tenacity on the defensive rebounds. In the Miami game, he did not box out his man, providing the Heat with like 3 offensive rebounds. Is he just not being ferocious enough, is it that he's just that he doesn't have that rebounding mentality or is he looking to slip out early on the break and not playing sound defense till the boards?

Justin, spot on. I love Drews offensive game but deffensive, and rebounding effort and just flat out wanting to go hard all the time has a long ways to go.


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