The game of basketball should be played where the ball goes inside and then comes out. You need a big man around the basket to make this happen, a player who can score, rebound and close down the lane defensively.
Andrew Bynum can do all those things.
The Philadelphia 76ers have acquired Bynum from the Los Angeles Lakers in a four-team blockbuster trade. The Sixers also received shooting guard Jason Richardson. In the process, the Sixers traded All-Star guard and Olympian Andre Iguodala to the Denver Nuggets, Nikola Vucevic to the Orlando Magic and Maurice “Moe” Harkless, this year’s first round draft pick, to the Magic.
The Lakers received a huge package in all-star center Dwight Howard and Orlando got Arron Afflalo and Al Harrington from Denver, and one protected first round selection from each of the three teams involved with the deal.
The Sixers will miss Iguodala’s spectacular play in the open court and his defense. Ironically, Iguodala’s debut as a Nugget will be against the Sixers on Oct. 31 in Philadelphia for the team’s home opener.
However, they now have Bynum, a 7-foot, 280-pounder who is one of the top players in the NBA. With Howard now in the West, Bynum immediately becomes the best big man in the East. Bynum, who grew up in Plainsboro, N.J., is only 24 years old after entering the NBA right out of high school as the 10th pick of the Lakers in 2005. He was a McDonald’s All-American when he played at St. Joseph’s High School in Metuchen, N.J.
He has already won two NBA championships (2009, 2010) with the Lakers. He made the all-star team for the first time last season, averaging 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds a game while leading the Lakers to playoffs.
The Sixers defeated the Lakers on Feb. 2 in Philadelphia, 95-90. But Bynum was terrific in that contest, tallying 20 points, 20 rebounds, 3 blocks and 3 assists. The Sixers should revolve their offense around him. Obviously, teams will collapse on him inside, but that’s exactly what you want. This way he can kick the ball back out to players like Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner, Nick Young, Dorell Wright and Jason Richardson for easy shots on the perimeter.
Philly should be able to climb the ladder in the Eastern Conference with him. Miami won the NBA championship in the spring. But the Sixers just got a whole lot closer with Bynum in the middle.
The Sixers finished in the eighth spot in the conference. They defeated the Chicago Bulls in the first round of the playoffs with Chicago missing two of its top players for most of the series in Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah. The Sixers were very impressive in the Eastern Conference semifinals too, losing to the Boston Celtics in seven games.
Bynum could take them to the next level. After Miami, you have the Indiana Pacers, New York Knicks, Atlanta Hawks and the Brooklyn Nets as the teams to watch. The Sixers are right there.
There aren’t a lot of dominant centers in the NBA today. The Sixers have one of them. Philly’s best teams have been the ones with outstanding centers. In 1966–67, the Sixers won the NBA championship with Wilt Chamberlain in the middle. In 1982–83, the team had center Moses Malone, which helped it capture an NBA title.
Bynum has already won two NBA crowns. He played with some great players such as Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and others. Nevertheless, he knows how to win and that should really help the Sixers.
Of course Bynum is in the final year of his contract and will be looking for a big deal. The Sixers could offer him a reported $100 million over five years. The Sixers should have a good chance to re-sign him.
He’s worth the investment.