Sunday, December 2, 2007
Howard and Bynum and Foyle, Oh My!!!
Once I found out the definite matchup for this year's BCS title game was going to be LSU-Ohio State, which Brad Edwards had already guaranteed earlier in the day on ESPNEWS, I was free to watch the Lakers host the Magic Sunday night. No need to watch anymore coverage on college football for the rest of the season; there's only one game left that matters, and we all know LSU is going to make the Buckeyes look like they're playing with 200-pound ankle weights on. I'm not even gonna watch the game.
Anyways, as I was saying, tonight's game at Staples matched up the NBA's two best nubile centers, Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum. Quite frankly, there's no comparison. Bynum is an impressive young big man, without question. He's only 20, he's averaging a double-double, and he's getting better by the minute. But aside from the impossibly soft hands, which obviously can't be taught, nothing about Bynum seems natural. He's very robotic, and nothing he does looks uncultivated. Not that it matters, but it seems like the Lakers drafted him because he was a true seven-footer with long arms, then hired Kareem to teach him how to play. Kareem's very own basketball creation, if you will. So to speak. Or what have you.
Howard, on the other hand, was born to play basketball. He's built like a more compact David Robinson. He's still kind of raw, definitely; he's not as smooth and fluid as Tim Duncan, a born low-post scorer whose moves have always looked neat and refined, and probably never will be. Whereas Duncan is a ballerina that always seems to be going in slow-motion, a finesse player that hurries no movements, Howard is a rough, tough, broad-shouldered banger with supreme quickness and hops, a thicker Amare Stoudemire. He loves contact and dunks everything he possibly can. What seperates him from Amare, though, is his rebounding (Garnett-esque because of his energy and desire) and defense. Last night, he looked like the most intimidating shotblocker in the league. He got to five and altered many others. Not only does he change shots, he changes minds about shooting altogether, as in "I'm in the paint and I'm about to take this three-footer...on second thought, Dwight Howard is standing right here and there's a solid chance he's gonna spike the ball into the fifth row the second it leaves my hand. I think I'll just pass instead." Plus, he's obviously a hard worker that is serious about getting better - he expanded his range this summer, and as he continues to develop a reliable back-to-the-basket game and learns to pass out of the double-teams that will come along with it, he will move closer and closer to utter dominance. Remember, he's only 22 and he's averaging 24 and 15 with 3 blocks. How good is he gonna be at 28?
The funniest moment of the night happened when he picked up his second foul in the first quarter and Adonal Foyle checked in for him. Adonal actually played well (11 minutes, 8 points on 4-of-4 shooting and 7 boards), but when I saw him I still couldn't help but think of everytime Matt Cassel comes in for Tom Brady with the Patriots up 78-0. I have to say, it struck me as mildy hilarious. But it wasn't the dropoff in talent that got me as much as it was their dissimilar physiques. Here you have Howard, this strapping young lad with the perfect basketball body, and then all of a sudden here comes Adonal, who must weigh about three bills at this point. Hey, I like Adonal Foyle; he seems like a nice guy, and I had a similar career to his in my CYO days of the seventh and eighth grade. And I weigh more than he does. Actually, come to think of it, maybe that's why it was so funny to me: Stan Van Gundy could've checked me into the game and you wouldn't have been able to tell the difference. It resonated with me on that level.