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Untapped Potential: Andrew Bynum

Jerome Miron / US Presswire

Andrew Bynum played a role in the Los Angeles Lakers championship success in 2009 and 2010 and showed flashes of brilliance and dominance at his position. Bynum’s story is filled with triumph and disappointment, regret and untapped potential.

The Beginning

The Lakers struggled in the 2004-05 season with a record of 34-48 and were heading into the draft for win-now talent. Bynum was the prototypical center measuring over seven feet in height and athletic for size with the ability to rebound and block shots proficiently. 

Bynum was drafted tenth in the 2005 NBA draft in a class including Deron Williams, Chris Paul, and Andrew Bogut.  The Lakers’ front office took a gamble, to say the least, due to the concern about his knees. Those initial concerns were well-founded with nagging knee injuries ultimately ending his career later on.

Bynum did not see much of the floor his rookie season only appearing in 46 games, averaging 7.3 minutes. Bynum would appear in all 82 games though the following season, averaging 7.8 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks in 21.9 minutes a game.

Push Towards Contention

The Lakers would speed up their rebuilding process by trading for Pau Gasol from the Memphis Grizzlies in 2008. This trade added another seven-footer to Lakers frontcourt. Bynum would improve upon his production, averaging 13.1 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks. The New Jersey native would only play in 35 games that season though unfortunately.

Bynum suffered a knee injury against the Grizzlies in January of 2008 ironically, where he would suffer a partially dislocated left kneecap after landing awkwardly on teammate Lamar Odom’s foot. 

Bynum would come back to play 50 games and averaged 14.3 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks in 28.9 minutes in the following season in 2009. The center would return and play in the playoffs, but received limited minutes. The Lakers would win the first of their back-to-back titles against the Orlando Magic in five games. 

The Lakers would win another championship, this time against the Boston Celtics in the 2009-2010 season. Bynum was again not effective in the minutes given to him. The St. Joseph product averaged 24.4 minutes and only 8.6 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks a game.

Bynum’s averaged career numbers in the 2011-2012 season, averaging 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds in 60 games in his last year as a Laker. The Lakers would lose in the second-round of the playoffs against the Oklahoma City Thunder in five games. The Thunder would run the veteran Lakers off the court with a young and spry squad in a short series.

Beginning Of The End

The Lakers front office decided to shake things up and swing for the fences by bringing Steve Nash and Dwight Howard onto the team with Kobe Bryant aging.

Bynum was shipped out in the Howard deal, where he would land with the Philadelphia 76ers and wouldn’t even play a game for the team. 

Bynum would miss the entire 2012-13 season with knee issues. ESPN reported that Bynum potentially did more damage to his knees while bowling. Bynum experienced swelling and cartilage damage in his left knee and ended up receiving two knee surgeries. 


The seven-year veteran by this point would go to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2013-14 season, playing in 24 games after an injury riddled stop with the Sixers. Bynum reportedly was a disturbance to the team and practice, which led to him being traded to the Chicago Bulls.

The Bulls would waive Bynum shortly after and the center would make his final pit stop of his career with the Indiana Pacers, playing only two games. Bynum would miss  basically the whole season due to continued knee ailments which would lead to a departure from the Pacers.

Bynum had the necessary skill set to be an effective big man in the NBA with his height, length, and athleticism. The concern was always trying to keep him on the court and that’s what every team he played for struggled with. The knee injuries hindered his ability to be effective and reliable in the playoffs despite being able to secure two rings with the Lakers. Injuries and work ethic will always hold a dark cloud over the career of Andrew Bynum.

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