Andrew Bynum came to the Los Angeles Lakers as a 17-year-old kid. Over the course of his career, through his many peaks and valleys, he left last night as a man.
Dwight Howard being traded to the Lakers last night was cause for celebration for many fans, who have waited two years for this trade to go through. The trouble with these types of blockbuster deals though, is the requirement of equal value being sent away. And from the bottom of my heart, I really do believe that Bynum and Howard are equals on the playing floor. Dwight may be the imposing behemoth that all teams covet on the defensive end, but few things were as automatic last year as Bynum cornering the post and finishing over a completely outmatched defender. For all of Bynum's offensive prowess, his length gave many teams problems when driving to the basket against him. As ESPN writer J.A. Adande has tweeted for some time now, the stat of S.O.B.O.A., or Shots Over Bynum's Outstretched Arms, was a great indicator of whether the Lakers won or lost last night.
What the 76ers are getting out of this trade is highway robbery. Nothing against Andre Igoudala, but there were certainly some fair reasons as to why Philadelphia has been trying to trade him in recent seasons. His inability to be a go to scorer in crunch time being among the first. With Bynum, the 76ers get exactly that. According to the Basketball Reference "Crunch time" stat, he shot 76% in the last minutes of fourth quarters and overtime. Consider Bynum an upgrade for close games.
Andrew Bynum gave everything he could to a Laker organization that invested so much time with him. From stepping into his own last season, to playing on one leg and being a crucial part to the 2010 championship, Bynum showed he still hasn't scratched the surface of where he can be. Howard, while as physically of a gifted of a player as the league has ever seen, still struggles on the offensive end and when things go south, still can't be trusted to not pout like he did for the past two seasons with Orlando.
Only time will tell who the long term winner of this trade is. Howard could easily leave following this upcoming season, regardless of a championship is won or not. While it might be the right move for right now, losing Bynum will be tough to handle.
Then again, he is the same division as Miami and Boston and has been on the record as holding nothing but contempt for them. Once a Laker, always a Laker.
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