Andrew Bynum is the Man
With the upcoming game of the millenium I've been trying to focus my attention on football but performances like last night by Andrew Bynum didn't allow me to. For those that did not watch the game last night Bynum finished with 20 points, 15 rebounds and 3 blocks, throw in 8 of 10 from the Free Throw line and 0 turnovers and you've got a bunch of happy Laker fans right now after a 95-88 win over Minnesota pushing the season record to 4-1. There were question marks when Bynum was drafted by the Lakers with the 10th overall pick. Coming straight out of high school, he would take a couple years to develop and many were not sold on the idea, myself included, while you had the best player in the game today Kobe Bryant using up years in his prime. I was among those who, at the time, wanted Danny Granger, someone who could step right in and contribute to the Lakers immediately.
Well I'll gladly eat the crow that's coming to me on this one because Bynum looks like he could be developing into a special player. He is only 19 years old and has put up some big games and he will only get better. He is learning from one of the greatest centers in the game in Kareem Abdul Jabbar and he doesn't have the pressure to immediately contribute since he has Kobe and Lamar at his side.
What I love about his game is that he is not afraid to go up hard to the basket. A lot of young players are very tentative when going up for shots in the paint, but Bynum is not. He will take it strong and either make the dunk or get fouled. On top of that he is hitting his free throws so he is not a liability like Shaq was. Bynum is also emerging as a defensive force in the paint. He had 3 blocks last night, he also had 3 on Friday against Seattle. Not only is he getting blocks he is forcing players to alter their shots when they come against him.
Before I get too carried away I do realize that he is only 19 and he is not ready to do this on a night in-night out basis. But when Kwame and Mihm come back it will make a formidable front line for the Lakers. He is only supposed to be a sophomore at UConn right now so I know there will be nights that his conditioning will not be there, but it will get there in the next year or two. If he keeps this up, as well as the rest of the team, my expectation of getting out of Round 1 of the playoffs will have to be raised even higher.