Saturday , Mar , 08 , 2008 C.Y. Ellis

Can the L.A. Lakers Win the West without Andrew Bynum?

Can the L.A. Lakers Win the West without Andrew Bynum?

It’s a funny question to be asking, given that he’s only really had one-half of a good season.  Word is that Andrew Bynum is behind on rehab and may not return until April or the playoffs.  So much is on this guy’s shoulders, but he’s still got more potential than quantifiable results.  I don’t count his earlier seasons against him, simply because he’s still not of legal drinking age, but isn’t it interesting that he’s the center of the Lakers’ post-season discussion?  Given what the Lakers have done with Pau Gasol, is Bynum even a necessary component? 

He is, especially if the Lakers run into the Sp*rs during the playoffs.  Bynum cannot outplay Duncan nor can he limit Duncan offensively, but he definitely would help.  He’ll keep Duncan more honest on defense and allow the Lakers to keep up in the rebounding category.  He may even hold Duncan to a mere mortal’s offensive efficiency and not allow Duncan to run roughshod over the Lakers’ defensive paint.   

In the post-season, the Spurs will hammer Gasol into ineffectiveness unless Gasol’s got some low-post help – and that help is not coming from Lamar Odom.  Odom, like Gasol, needs help to be effective, and Gasol is not going to raise Odom’s game. 

“But wait!”  I hear you screaming.  “Kobe elevates his teammates!”  Sure.  That’s why the Lakers have gone so far the last few seasons.  Kobe has done wonders for Gasol during the regular – or, maybe not.  Maybe Gasol has done wonders for Kobe. 

In any event, neither is going to elevate the other enough to make sure the seven-foot Gasol is able to guard the post or grab 10 boards a game against San Antonio.  No, they are going to need help there, and the help is going to have to come from Andrew Bynum.  Neither player has been able to carry a team in the playoffs on his own.  Perhaps the two of them together can get to the second round?  Nah … they’ve got Derek Fisher, right?   They’ll go far. 

It’s a tough spot to be in because consensus seems to be that he’s a crucial part of the plan, but, again, he doesn’t have the track record one would like to see.   

If the Lakers, though, can avoid the Sp*rs, there does not seem to be another team that can bother the Bynum-less Lakers.  Kobe now seems to have enough help to be able to push his team through the playoffs against just about everybody but Tim Duncan.