BY: KWAME FISHER-JONES
The Philadelphia 76ers finally decided to stomp with the big dogs. After an offseason filled with ineptitude and inconsequential moves the 76ers jumped in the Dwight Howard sweepstakes and came out with Andrew Bynum.
The former Los Angeles Laker cornerstone brings to the 76ers……………………well no one knows what Bynum brings. The big can be dominating at times and aloof at other times. The Jersey native is strong and violent in the paint and will never be pushed around. Conversely, he plays at the same pace whether it is game one of the regular season or the NBA Finals the effort remains the same. There is no elevation of Bynum’s game because of the moment.
The 76ers can take solace in knowing they have attained the second best center in the league and most of all have changed the dynamics of their team. More than likely, your starters are Andrew Bynum, Spencer Hawes, Dorell Wright, Evan Turner, and Jrue Holiday. This is a far cry from the previous starting line-up of Elton Brand, Spencer Hawes, Andre Iguodala, Jodie Meeks, and Jrue Holiday.
The addition of the two time champion should be applauded, if not for the acquisition, then at the very least for the effort. For too long the 76ers have been treading water with the guppies instead of swimming with the sharks. This once proud organization drafted well and pursued the best. Time has forgotten that and new fans have allowed this mediocrity to continue.
This addition supplies the fans with a sense of hope, and proves that the new regime is well aware that the re-signing of Spencer Hawes alone is not acceptable.
Bynum is a player who has yet to hit the superstar level and to be fair, at this point, the center is more name than substance. However, that is the only type of player the 76ers could obtain. To be clear Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant, David Robinson, Kevin Durant, Hal Greer, Wilt Chamberlain and any other star you could think of were not willingly walking through those doors.
So the only way the Sixers were going to change residence from Mediocrity Township to Eastern Conference power was by taking a chance on a player who COULD be a force. A player capable of carrying the load and not being engulfed by the moment were the necessary ingredients.
Bynum is capable and has shown he can fulfill those requirements, based on his penchant for playing at the same level throughout the season. Yet the question remains, can the one time NBA All-Star carry this group of 76ers to a title?
Will the newest acquisition be the next Moses Malone or the next Jeff Ruland? Truth be told, no one knows.
Last season the seven-footer played well throughout, and even began the season with six straight games of 10 or more rebounds. In total, Bynum would tally 10 or more boards in 39 of 60 contests. The newest Sixer is an imposing figure in the paint who intimidates not just with his shot-blocking, but also with his “punish thou penetrator” philosophy. Bynum notched at least one block in all but nine of his 60 contests and of his 13 field goal attempts per game, 11 were from nine feet or closer.
The center is more laborer than levitator, which could pose a problem for the 76ers. Philly likes to get out and run. Also, Bynum is not a polished passer and nets about two turnovers to one assist per.
In addition, the big will never be mistaken for a gazelle when it comes to running up and down the court. One of the major issues with Bynum is his apparent lack of assertiveness, which is contradictory to others who say he is a dirty player. How can one not be aggressive but in the same breath be overt in displaying aggression?
It is certainly easy to shoot holes in the lack of aggression critique, but there is no doubt Bynum has some offensive deficiencies. The Lakers’ struggled with any type of pick-and-roll offense involving the big because that’s not his game. He is better suited for back to the basket play and does not fare well facing the defense.
Yes Bynum is flawed and that is why he was available. Regardless, the undeniable fact about the big man is this, he can get it done. Pure and simple the man can play and while that is evident at times, many still wonder what will it take to achieve consistency?
Philadelphia feels they can not only answer that question, but can also get the big to surpass his potential. So certain is the franchise they have ditched their long-term future by trading two of their last three first round picks in Moe Harkless and Nikola Vucevic for immediate recompense.
So certain is the franchise that they have mortgaged the future without a guarantee that Bynum will be in the Sixer’s future.
Sometimes the desire to be great surpasses our fear of failure. Yes losing the former Laker is a concern, but a greater concern was going another season jockeying for first to lose in the playoffs. The opportunity to grab a top player at his position, who has the potential to be a top player in the league was just too good to pass up for Philly.
However, this move alone does not make Philadelphia a legitimate championship contender. A contender steps on the court with more certainty then uncertainty. Presently construed, the Sixers are overwhelmed with uncertainty. Who will be the team’s second option? “Who will pick-up Iguodala’s passionate defense?” “How will this group adjust to being a half-court low post orientated offense?”
An opportunity to compete for a title is all Philadelphia has been asking for. This acquisition is a step in the right direction.