Andrew Bynum downplays comparisons with Dwight Howard
The two remain commonly linked.
Andrew Bynum remains the current Lakers' center, showing vast improvement in his post play, ability to fight through double teams, and for now, staying healthy. Dwight Howard remains the current Magic center, considered by many to be the league's top center, the league's top defensive player and the Lakers' most coveted prospect.
When Bynum steps into Amway Arena on Friday for the Lakers' game against the Orlando Magic, he'll use it as a measuring stick for both the team's development as well as his own. Even if Bynum says, "I don't make any comparisons" with himself and Howard, the Lakers' center then reveals his hand.
"The guy is definitely more proven," Bynum said of Howard. "So for myself, I always look up to him and want to be able to get the ball and do the things he does with it. I think I learn a lot from watching him play, the way he rim-runs, and gets low and things like that. It's a fun game."
For what it's worth, however, former Lakers center and TNT analyst Shaquille O'Neal told The Times' Ben Bolch that Bynum "is the best big man in the game right now." But who knows to what degree O'Neal just wants to continue taking swipes at Howard. So below the jump is a more neutral tale of the tape.
1. Post game:
Bynum: His 16.5 points per game average on 52.5% shooting in 34.8 minutes represents an improvement in his overall post game, touch and overall balance. According to Synergy Sports Technology, Bynum's proved incredibly efficient on cuts (65.2%) and post-ups (43.8%). But he's hardly received enough looks on pick-and-roll plays (1 of 4), showing that the dynamic between Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol remains stronger in that area. Although Bynum has improved progressively in fighting through double teams, it still remains unclear if he can hold that up consistently.
Howard: His season average of 19.8 points on 58.5% shooting represents a league average and only partly explains why he's better than Bynum in this department. Howard's proved to be equally dominant in cuts (75%) and pick-and-rolls (70.6%) and consistently strong on post-ups (54.2%). Howard may face a higher turnover rate (3.4), but his double teams prove much more fierce considering the talent he has around him. Fundamentally, Bynum has superior fundamentals than Howard. But this is a results-base analysis.
Bynum: He's proved to be a willing defender ever since accepting a role last season that emphasized remaining close to the basket to intimidate and block defenders driving the lane. He's remained tremendous in that area, significantly altering shots and remaining aggressive to gobble up 13.9 rebounds per contest. On post-up plays, Bynum's held opponents to 33.3% shooting.
But he currently lacks consistency in maintaining proper balance, showing out on pick-and-rolls and communicating on defense. His conditioning also largely holds him back from becoming the dominant defensive presence he could be.
Howard: He didn't win the league's defensive player of the year for three consecutive seasons by accident. Howard remains incredibly fast and agile considering his 6-11, 265-pound frame. He remains sharp on extending out on the perimeter on pick-and-rolls. And he remains solid in defending spot-up shooters, limiting them to a 34% clip.
3. Work ethic:
Bynum: He shows a thirst for knowledge. Bynum took up boxing classes this summer to improve his mobility. He constantly reads self-help books that help him meditate, reinforce positive thinking and visualize goals. And Bynum's recently gravitated toward individual instruction.
Howard: He spent one summer working with Hakeem Olajuwon on his post moves. Despite his glowing personality, he remains a competitor. But Howard seeks the spotlight far more than Bynum, who prefers keeping to himself and working.
Bynum: Whether you think he's injury prone or has suffered unlucky breaks, facts are facts. He missed 46 regular-season games in the 2007-08 season because of a partially dislocated kneecap suffered against the Memphis Grizzlies. Bynum sat out 32 games of the 2008-09 season because of a right-knee injury. He remained sidelined for 13 games in the 2009-10 season because of a left Achilles tendon and then played through the post-season with a lateral meniscus tear in his right knee. Bynum then missed the first 24 games of last season while recovering from off-season surgery.
Howard: He barely has much of a medical record. Howard has missed only seven games in his seven-year career, including two with a stomach virus and two to suspensions.
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