Andrew Bynum showing more aggressiveness
Even an hour removed from a prolonged practice on Monday, Lakers center Andrew Bynum talked with reporters while lugging around a medicine ball.
Consider it one of many examples of Bynum remaining focused on his craft. Even before practice is scheduled to start, Bynum often is already at the facility working on post moves on his own to improve his balance and base. In July and August, he worked out with boxing trainer Freddie Roach to improve his hand-eye coordination and footwork. And then once the NBA lockout formally ended, Bynum shipped off to Atlanta to reengage in a yearly off-season routine with trainer Sean Zarzana. There, he developed quicker post moves, improved his back-to-the basket and deeper post positioning and learned how to pass better out of the post before reposting.
Bynum's average of 23.5 points on 66.7% shooting and 14.5 rebounds in 30 minutes through his first two games provides too small of a sample size to make sweeping conclusions. But it's clearly showing how Bynum's off-season work has translated into becoming a more aggressive and efficient center.
"I'm attacking every game with a different mind-set," Bynum said.
Instead of deferring to Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, Bynum has made sharp cuts into the post, established position and called for the ball on nearly every possession. It's a far cry from even last season when the coaching staff asked him to focus mostly on defense where he rebounded and altered opponents' shots as they drove the lane. Now, with exception to Bryant's trigger-happy six of 28 performance in the Lakers' loss Sunday to Denver, the Lakers appear to look for Bynum first on most possessions.
Bynum had indicated in his exit interview after the Lakers' four-game Western Conference sweep to the Dallas Mavericks that he wanted a larger role. But he says he had no idea the change under Lakers Coach Mike Brown would be so drastic.
"I wanted a larger role but it was just minutes-wise really," Bynum said. "Now I understand I can be a big part of the squad."
The scary part: Bynum's not fully 100%, and for once that doesn't involve his injuries but his conditioning. He says it will take a few more games including the Lakers' home contest Tuesday at Houston before feeling completely up to speed. Meanwhile, Lakers forward Pau Gasol noticed Bynum working out with full intensity during his five-game suspension to minimize the transition period upon his return.
"He was working really hard to make sure he was ready to go," said Gasol, who has averaged 18.8 points on 55.4% shooting and 8.7 rebounds. "So it wouldn't take him a game, two or three to get back in the flow of things. He's been making a point of being aggressive and assertive."
But just as Bynum carried around a medicine ball during interviews with reporters, it's clear he remains adamant on continuing to work.
"I think I'm definitely being featured and I'm doing well with my opportunities so far," he said. "I didn't know what it would be like, but I can get a better understanding on when and where to post up."
— Mark Medina
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