Tuesday, November 16, 2010
THE BIG MAN COMETH
I haven't much felt like posting for the better part of a week, not since the previous debacle in which I boldly predicted a Nuglet stomping. After calling into question their desire to play, I was forced to witness a Lazarus-like recall of whatever's left remaining in their ink-stained hearts - they managed to rope the Lakers into playing through emotion rather than playing to plan. I debated previewing Sunday night's Suns game but held back, not wishing to further jinx things. The point was apparently moot, actually one of the points was a no-show due to flu-vomitage. I could have predicted that even without my amazing Kreskin powers, Steve's wifey Kristen was tweeting all week about their 3 lovable tykes' copious barfing. The Lakers again let themselves get sucked into playing not to their strengths but their opponents - Phoenix isn't the team from seasons back but can still run and launch a blizzard of threes and while the game was certainly entertaining, there was little commitment to defense and even less to the inside-out game that wins them championships by the boatload.
Recent press reports have Andrew Bynum pegged to practice Thanksgiving week with a probable return to action sometime in December. It won't be soon enough, especially with Ratliff now going under the knife. The team's been doing fine - an 8-0 start was amazing, the current 8-2 is still good enough for second in the west. Still, we've missed Drew's low-post presence and the way it reshapes the all-around game. At his least mobile (as in last year's finals), Bynum still takes up valuable real estate and alters the opposing team's approach. At his best, he's one of the league's premiere centers, soft hands, solid passing skills and nearly impossible to deny when he gets position down low (or for that matter, going up to slam home the lob). I've gotten to the point of cringing when the latter happens - he's not a guy I want going airborne. The shocks are already rusted out, just five years in.
I feel kind of bad posting a photo of a brace but facts is facts - discussions about Bynum begin with his knees and end with question marks. His seasons tend to be truncated and he'll honestly admit that he hasn't stayed healthy long enough to reach his All-Star goals. I could go link-crazy with the injury-centric discussions about his 10th overall pick in the draft, championed relentlessly by Jimmy Buss, brought around slowly by Jackson, famously demeaned by Kobe on viral video before coming on like gangbusters in portions of the last three seasons, only to be derailed in each at some point of time. He did seem to turn a corner this past year however, injured once again but determined to soldier through the playoffs and at the very least, making a difference.
Injuries aside, there's been a lot of good analysis about Bynum's game and its suitability for the triangle. I've never been one to really dissect such matters, anyone who's caught my sporadic rantings over the years would sooner expect a reference to bog snorkeling if they expected anything at all. Those thirsting for more in-depth examinations of the kid's potential might want to scroll the LAT threads for comments by stalwart blogger Laker Tom. I'd search the archives myself for pertinent linkage but my old laptop loads Times pages slower than a snail crawling through salt. Of course, this being the forest where falling trees aren't heard, I choose to end the ridiculousness with the assertion that without a gimpy 7-footer with flashes of brilliance, you're nothing in this league. Hurry back, young Bynum. The team needs you.