Andrew Bynum has been in the NBA for seven seasons. The only time he played a full 82-game schedule was in 2006-07, his second year in the league. That season he averaged 7.8 points and 5.9 rebounds in 21.9 minutes of action per game.
Last year, during the lockout shortened season, Bynum averaged career highs in points (18.7) and rebounds (11.8) before subsequently being shipped off to the Philadelphia 76ers in a four-team deal that netted the Los Angeles Lakers Dwight Howard. While nobody came out and said it, most believed that this was L.A.’s way of getting maximum value for a center who they believed had peaked.
Bynum has yet to play a single game with the Philadelphia 76ers. The latest notable update on his status came when he re-injured his knees while bowling.
Based on when he was at his most productive and why he isn’t currently playing for the 76ers, what would you cite as the main thing that has hampered Bynum’s development as a player? Do you think it’s a.) his incessant injury problems or b.) Kobe Bryant?
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Bynum, for what it’s worth, is going with Option B.
"I thought it really helped me a lot obviously at first, because he draws so much attention it's hard for guys to double team and key on you, so it helped me tremendously," Bynum said on Sunday, when talking about playing with Bryant (via ESPN). "Later, I felt I was able to get the ball more and do more things with the ball, so I could definitely see how it could stunt growth."
So in Bynum’s mind, the reason he hasn’t reached his full potential as a basketball player yet is because Bryant’s ballhogging stunted his growth. Maybe Bryant never got into the habit of passing Bynum the ball with regularity because Bynum was never healthy enough to consistently stay on the court.
After the game, Bynum’s comments were relayed to Bryant. He didn’t take the bait.
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"For sure, because when you're playing with me you obviously have to sacrifice something," Bryant said. "Same thing with me and Shaq (Shaquille O'Neal). You kind of off-set each other to a certain extent. So, I mean, that's true. When he gets back and he's healthy, he'll come out here and he'll be the focal point of their attack and he'll be getting the ball more and you'll see big games from him more consistently."
That’s Bryant at his most Zen. Mamba never fogets, though. Remember that little shot he took at Shaq when he won his first title without him? Bynum can expect one of those if the Lakers ever get back on track.