Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Was Andrew Bynum's injury a blessing in disguise?
Could it be?
Is it possible the knee injury that has derailed the previously skyrocketing Andrew "Big" Bynum since December was a good thing?
Just think about it for a second.
When the A-Bomb got hurt, the Lakers were 24-11 and on an upward trajectory. Bynum was averaging a 13, 10, and 2 blocks on 64 percent shooting, but those numbers don't begin to tell the true story of Bynum's ascent. He was averaging a 19-13-3 in five December games before he sustained the injury against Memphis, and he was just beginning to post-up. The Lakers were beginning to look scarier and scarier with each passing game.
Then, he came down on Lamar Odom's foot and went to the ground, clutching his knee in pain (and as he lay on the court writhing under the Grizzlies basket, Pau Gasol took a pass from Mike Conley and scored a layup. Hmmmmmmmmmm. Weird, no?)
The Lakers lost 4 of 7 immediately after the injury and it was looking hopeless in Lakerdom. They were sliding, and likely would have kept on sliding, right on out of the playoffs and into the lottery. Then it was announced that they had acquired Gasol and a giddy Kobe scored 76 points on 29-of-43 shooting in blowout road wins over Toronto and Washington. Really, it turned the season back around.
But if Andrew doesn't go down, it's likely that Gasol's 36-16-8 performance against Denver Sunday never takes place. The Lakers would have been contenders without him and only Bynum; Gasol took the Lakers from less than a million over the luxury tax to more than $4 million over this year, and almost $8 million next year (assuming the threshold remains roughly the same), before the likely re-signing's of Sasha Vujacic and Ronny Turiaf.
What I'm trying to say is that the Gasol trade had to be happen in order for the Lakers to stay alive this year, but that it wouldn't have happened if Bynum hadn't gotten hurt. Now, they're looking at a 65-plus win season next year when Bynum returns full strength (and at least top-flight contender status for five seasons after that, a potential mini-dynasty if they decide to keep Lamar in the mix - he becomes a free-agent following next season and his future with the team after that is up in the air) only they're also deadly as hell right now and might win the championship without him this year (and for the record, I don't think he'll be back.)
In other words, as good as they look right now, they're not even as scary as they're gonna be yet. Terror is impending. But it wouldn't be possible if Andrew Bymum hadn't hurt his knee.