On the surface, predicting who will win the NBA’s MVP award is extremely easy. Select a really good player on a really good team, then call it a day. But, unfortunately, as we travel through each new season, a subjective investigation is given to the word “valuable,” and all hell breaks loose. Is it designed to reward the league’s best player? Or should it go to whomever is most important to their specific team—the player most obviously carrying his team towards the playoffs.
If the world we lived in were strictly based on facts and statistics as a means to present logical evidence, the 2012-13 MVP discussion would contain seven players. Here they are, in no particular order: LeBron James, Chris Paul, Kevin Durant, Rajon Rondo, Kevin Love, Dwight Howard, and Andrew Bynum. Read more…
From studying the postseason’s top units by way of the incredibly insightful site Basketballvalue.com, here are a few thoughts I’ve put together. Some of these are more or less obvious, while others may make you check the site for yourself. Enjoy. Read more…
So far these playoffs have been a wild animal filled with unexpected bite. Untamed, undisciplined, unwilling to follow the suggested narrative. Chris Paul is that animal’s rabid child. Here he bites Andrew Bynum and won’t let go. Why the Lakers insist on switching on pick and rolls after Game 1′s debacle of defensive containment continues to befuddle both their fans and viewers. Maybe throw Artest on Paul? Match crazy with crazy?
Also, here’s Kobe Bryant showing the world why high tops are necessary on a basketball court.
This post’s title is slightly hyperbolic, but after Mitch Kupchak, the Lakers general manager, recently said he’d be open to making a trade before the deadline, half of me thinks it’s a motivational ploy to get his team’s juices flowing while the other half believes Kupchak is truly voicing concern. That was until Phil Jackson piped up. Then Magic Johnson. Now I think his statement was more forthcoming than inspirational, and a deal seems imminent. But is it necessary?
Los Angeles is 33-15 and hold a 10 game lead over Phoenix for first place in the Pacific Division. Around the league, they’re tied for third in field goal percentage, fourth in defensive field goal percentage, tied for first in offensive rating, and are 10th in defensive rating. Despite their much publicized inability to defeat the league’s top teams (they’re winless against Miami, Boston, and San Antonio), statistically speaking the Lakers’ roster as constituted isn’t a complete waste of a ticket buyer’s hard earned money. Each year the NBA’s regular season is exaggerated up on a mountain top by national analysts who make claims based on little to no validity. Last year, the Boston Celtics were a prime example of a veteran bunch who couldn’t seem to get things going during the long winter months, but in the end were able to reach the NBA Finals. What Boston had in common with this year’s Lakers is their possible want yet understated need to make some sort of deadline deal. (The Celtics acquired Nate Robinson from New York and were in serious talks to move major pieces like Ray Allen and Kendrick Perkins for the Caron Butlers, Antawn Jamisons, and Carlos Boozers of the league.) Celtics General Manager Danny Ainge held off on everything and let the season play itself out; with most of his aging core healthy he chose to roll the dice. If L.A. was to disregard Boston’s blueprint and emulate the late 80′s Pistons, who after losing to L.A. in seven games in the 1987-88 finals, traded 20 points per game scorer Adrian Dantley to Dallas for Mark Aguirre at the following year’s All-Star break—the Pistons went on to sweep the Lakers in the 1988-89 championship—they’d be rolling some dice of their own. If the Lakers were to make a dramatic move, and I’m not saying they necessarily need to, their most obvious trading chip would be young center Andrew Bynum. While Bynum’s length is certainly a pointed Laker strength instead of weakness, his inefficiency on offense and peripheral inability to coexist with Pau Gasol makes him the most likely Laker to play the unhappy “Dantley” role. In 24 games this season Bynum has four double-doubles and has yet to eclipse the 20 point mark. He’s contributed over 30 minutes of action exactly four times and is as injury prone as anyone in the league. So what impact players on the market might shake things up a little for L.A.? As Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld wrote this morning, there’s a former All-Star in Memphis who would love to showcase his talents on a larger stage.
While many players are rumored to be on the move, few are more likely to be dealt than Zach Randolph. The general consensus around the league is that Randolph is one of the most realistic options for teams looking to make a splashy move before the deadline. The power forward is both attractive and attainable for a number of reasons.
This season, many teams are opting to hold onto their ending deals until they know the specifics of the new collective bargaining agreement. This makes Randolph’s $17,333,333 expiring contract intriguing to many teams that would love to add a contributor without adding to their payroll beyond this season.
Randolph is also having one of the best years of his career. He’s one of only four players that are averaging over 20 points and 10 rebounds – alongside Dwight Howard, Blake Griffin, and Kevin Love. His points, rebounds, and field goal percentage have increased significantly while committing his lowest number of turnovers and fouls since becoming a starter. Randolph has been named the Western Conference Player of the Week twice in the past month and his dominance hasn’t gone unnoticed.
“Executives are drooling over him because he’s a double-double machine,” said one league source. “Teams will always be interested in a player like that. His stats speak for themselves.”
An Andrew Bynum, Theo Ratliff, and first round draft pick for Randolph deal miiiiight be crazy, but at the very least it would make teams around the league a bit weary. Playing alongside Gasol’s younger brother, Marc, Randolph has been one of the most dominant inside players in the league; ranking only behind Blake Griffin, Dwight Howard, and Dwyane Wade for made shots at the rim. He averages just under 14 boards a game and is undoubtedly a better player than Bynum, but does he fit in better with L.A. than the 22-year-old center? That’s doubtful. Comparing the two players statistically isn’t even close and probably isn’t even a decisive point when seriously discussing the merits of moving a player like Bynum—someone whose intangibles far surpass the power that a few numbers next to his name can ever capture. In the end something hardly creating a blip on the NBA’s radar will be the type of deal L.A. makes, but wouldn’t this be more fun?
Ed note: The following article is specially written by Aaron Kaplan
In a league where Amazing™ can happen any night, anything that isn’t tends to fly under the radar (by “Amazing”, the NBA means “dunks”). Blake Griffin, for example, is taking the league by storm, pounding slams and put-backs in opponents’ faces on a nightly basis.
However, there is another young talent in the same city who puts his stamp on the game in a much more subtle fashion. Andrew Bynum, who came to the NBA out of high school, is in his sixth season—he’s only played one in its entirety—with the LA Lakers. Yet, when healthy, he gives immersed viewers glimpses of greatness that make his chronic knee problems all the more tragic.
Bynum is an old-school center; he is part of a breed of players who are becoming extinct, overshadowed by the wave of the new generation of NBA marketing highlighted by highlights, inundated with the ornate. Bynum, a dominant post presence whose game blends grace and elegance with size and strength, calls to mind greats who captivated the league more than 30 years ago, like a young Alcindor or Walton.
What do these players have in common? They play fundamental, efficient basketball. Defense and rebounding are always a priority, coupled with the touch and finesse to finish around the hoop. Soft touch is something that can’t be taught. Just ask Dwight Howard. You either have it or you don’t. But it can be sharpened and perfected just like anything else with countless hours of practice. Luckily for Bynum, the Lakers hired Kareem Abdul-Jabbar—one of the greatest to ever play the game—to work personally with him on honing his skills.
This season, Bynum is putting up relatively good numbers, averaging just over 10 points and seven rebounds, but his impact in a game while he is on the floor cannot be quantified by stats alone. On defense he changes shots in the paint, taking slashing guards out of their comfort zone, and one could argue his greatest contribution comes on the offensive end; not scoring, but rather rebounding. Offensive rebounds have the power to shift the game’s momentum and deflate the opponent, and when Bynum is on he is unstoppable.
Forget Lamar Odom, Andrew Bynum is the X-Factor for the Lakers. He is the 5-Hour Energy to the Lakers’ 2:30 feeling. He is the key for them making a run in the playoffs and stopping Boston from getting that 18th banner.
That is…if he can stay healthy.