There is no easy answer to that query considering Andrew’s age and his brief career. Recent events make it almost impossible to have an unbiased and nondiscriminatory view of the young center. In February 07, the Nets were asking for Bynum to trade Jason Kidd to the Lakers, which created a hot debate among the fans and experts. Many were impressed by his performances before the All-Star games and didn’t approve such a trade, but the consensus changed after he hit the notorious “wall” following the All-Star show.
It’s truly difficult to build a dispassionate opinion about Andrew Bynum without being preoccupied by Kobe’s demand for immediate roster improvement. However, we could attempt to get a fair-minded view in evaluating his brief career without prejudice.
Bynum averaged an impressive 22 points, 16 rebounds, and 5 blocked shots per game as a senior in St. Joseph High School in New Jersey, before he was hand picked by Jimmy Buss as the10th pick in 2005 NBA Draft. He became the youngest NBA player to play the game on Nov.2 against the Nuggets in Denver. Lakers connected the teenager at the hip of all-time scoring champion and Lakers legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to learn post moves.
2005-2006 season was a typical slow rookie year for the chiseled 7 footer; he played 46 games, 7.24 minutes per game and averaged 1.6 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 0.2APG and a low 29.6 FT Pct.
2006-2007 season was the year of contradiction and conflict for the 19 year-old center. He surprised us in the season-opener against the Suns and scored 18 points and grabbed 9 rebounds on Oct. 31, 2006, and less than a week later he finished a home game against the T-Wolves with 20 points, 14 boards and 3 blocked shots. He recorded eleven double-doubles before the mid-season. He also showed glimpses of pride and determination against Shaquille O’Neal on January 16th 2006.
Then came the crash with that ugly “wall” and his performance plummeted; no more double-doubles, even single-singles became difficult. His lack of experience was very obvious on March 18th in a game against T-Wolves; he turned over the ball in the 4th quarters, just over 2 minutes left on the clock, he was stunned like a deer looking in the headlights, he was confused as to pass or not pass the ball. That happens to the best players, but instead of being remorseful and admitting his blunder, he became very angry and lashed at his teammates and coaching staff in front of the camera as he returned to the bench.
Last season ended in disappointment for Andrew, and his future remains uncertain. Reportedly, he has been working hard to prove his critics wrong. More than once was the youngster the target of criticism because of his poor work ethics.
Until now, we have been linking Bynum’s inconsistency and blunders to his age and lack of experience. But he’s a rookie no more; he’s entering his third season in the league. The greatest center has been tutoring him for the past 2years, Hall-of- Famer Phil Jackson has coached him through 128 games, and he’s lucky to play with the best player on the planet in one of the most glamorous professional sports franchises. Not many rookies have that kind of opportunity. What else does he need?