How Andrew Bogut, Andrew Bynum, and Greg Oden avoid becoming another Sam Bowie bust
Their clubs need them in 2010 and beyond. Milwaukee is counting on the ‘Aussie’ to pick-up his scoring after dealing Richard Jefferson this summer. Los Angeles, if they are to capture consecutive championships, has to get a full season of focused play from Bynum, while Portland could contend if Oden successfully complements stars LaMarcus Aldridge and Brandon Roy …
It would be unfair to put Andrew Bogut, Andrew Bynum, and Greg Oden in the Sam Bowie bust category. However, it would be fair to say these three haven’t met expectations.
After all, Bogut and Oden were first overall picks. And Bynum, if he doesn’t try for prep-to-pros success, probably gets selected higher than tenth in the 2005 draft.
To be fair, injuries and bad luck have reduced Bogut, Bynum, and Oden’s influence on both ends of the floor. Each must shrug off past mistakes and misfortune to assume responsibility for the future of their career.
Their clubs need them in 2010 and beyond. Milwaukee is counting on the ‘Aussie’ to pick-up his scoring after dealing Richard Jefferson this summer. Los Angeles, if they are to capture consecutive championships, has to get a full season of focused play from Bynum, while Portland could contend if Oden successfully complements stars LaMarcus Aldridge and Brandon Roy.
Health aside (because it’s an obvious component), here’s what these youngsters must do to fulfill expectations and avoid becoming the next Bowie.
Andrew Bogut …
The former first overall pick has to get in point guard Luke Ridnour’s head and demand the ball. Too often, Bogut has been a third or fourth option, picking up leftover scraps while others took ill advised shots from the outside.
Without Jefferson, Charlie Villanueva, and Mo Williams, Milwaukee has no choice but to become an inside-outside team. Establishing Bogut early on in games will open the floor for others like Michael Redd, especially since he’s an unselfish and outstanding passer from the five-spot.
Andrew Bynum …
Someday, the New Jersey native will become the purple-and-gold’s focal point. However, that day isn’t now, so Bynum should stop worrying about touches, Phil Jackson‘s head games, living up to his contract, and TMZ reporting on his personal life.
Instead, he should enjoy playing. Yes, turn back the clock to elementary school and just have fun. Bottom line: Bynum is far more effective when he blocks shots, rebounds, and converts on high percentage opportunities.
For example, Bynum was terrific during a stretch of games from December 2007 to January 2008 because he stopped sweating the nonsense and focused on getting pleasure out the game. Since then, partly because of injuries, he has over-thought things and struggled.
For the foreseeable future, the Lakers are Kobe Bryant’s team. As much as possible in a basketball-mad market like L.A., Bynum should shut out distractions and revel in the freedom of being a supporting star.
Greg Oden …
Oden, despite a tough two years, must also get more enjoyment from playing. Man-child needs to rediscover the carefree confidence and swagger that led to Slam covers and that hilarious tour of his old Indianapolis pad.
(The lifestyle of a star athlete before striking it rich in the NBA.)
Of course, easier said than done. Pro sports is a results-orientated, pressure-packed business.
But part of Oden’s struggles come from pressing on-court because he wants to compensate for missing so much time with injuries. His determination is commendable. Like Bynum, he’d have greater success relaxing and blending with Aldridge and Roy.
Also, Oden needs to shed muscle. Over the last two years, he added bulk to his upper body lifting weights because he wanted to stay active while recovering from micro fracture surgery and other ailments.
Portland becomes a full-fledged Western Conference beast if Oden stays healthy, plugs the middle, and averages anything near 13 points and 10 rebounds per game.