Andrew Bynum has had an awesome season thus far. He's an All-Star, a major contributor for the Lakers and still only 24. What's missing from this young centers game? The ability to pass crisply, especially out of double teams. Why might Andrew Bynum be missing such a key skill?
Andrew Bynum probably hasn't needed to be an adept passer until now. Since he came directly to the NBA from high school, he could score through puny high school defenses. No high level passing really necessary at that level. Bynum has been in the league since 2005, hasn't he learned to pass better in that time?
Surely Andrew Bynum has gotten a bit better at everything since 05. He hasn't had enough to time get acclimated into a season like he has this year. In past seasons, he'd play his butt off for a while, get the acclaim and then get injured and sit out for most, if not all, of the season. This season has (and will hopefully be) different. After serving a four game suspension to start the season, Andrew Bynum has come out guns blazing this year. He's established himself, teams are aware he'll get touches and that he's a vocal point in the Laker offense. Thusly, teams are preparing to double, even triple, team him at times.
Unlike his teammate Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum doesn't have the vision to intelligently pass out of double teams. Is that because Andrew Bynum doesn't have the ability, or simply that he hasn't been forced to develop that skill? It's in between the two. Andrew Bynum hasn't had enough consistent play to face well scouted defenses. Teams have certainly mentioned him in the past, but he hasn't played a long enough stretch to warrant triple teams.
Now Andrew Bynum has reached a point where teams are going to really come at him. Especially if Andrew Bynum is playing with the Lakers second unit. Coach Mike Brown likes to leave Bynum out there with the bench at times. When that happens, teams know he'll be the main offensive option. They'll come and swarm Andrew Bynum.
What can Andrew Bynum do to better handle these situations? First, recognize that this is the new norm. Andrew Bynum is integral to the Laker attack and he'll be fed often. Second, work with Pau Gasol and practice passing when double and triple teamed. Practice definitely makes perfect and there's few better big man to practice passing with than Pau Gasol. Third, ensure Mike Brown has the rest of team spaced well. Spacing is huge when going inside and out and the Lakers need to be in a place Andrew Bynum can find them in.
If the Lakers are in tough passing angles, that'll further complicate the problem. Andrew Bynum should be able to easily see a guy's open and toss him the rock. The Lakers really just need to think logically and get in the right position. It's seemingly instinctual basketball, but it's important for Mike Brown to prep these guys for everything.
Andrew Bynum deserves accolades for his play. Still wanna see a full season from him, but it's great to see what we've seen so far. Just improve the passing! Cultivate an unselfishness that comes out when it needs to. Due to Andrew Bynum's prolific performance, the defense will come.
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