Former Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum did after all make his way to the Eastern Conference, just not via the Cleveland Cavaliers. Instead of making a playbook centering around him, Cleveland will now have to prepare to face one of the most talented and up-and-coming centers in the Association four times next season.
Bynum has his hands full right now, as he is heading over to Germany to undergo a knee procedure known as Orthokine/Regenokine surgery. This procedure is non-surgical, and has been performed on other All-Star athletes such as Kobe Bryant and Alex Rodriguez. The procedure is a confusing process to explain, so to keep things simple the surgery is to relieve future pain and discomfort in the knee area.
This procedure will only help the seven footer’s development, so Philadelphia 76ers fans shouldn’t have to worry about him being a fragile big men once he hits the court. But with Bynum’s bust potential already being compared to that of Elton Brand’s, who spent the last four seasons with the Sixers and never lived up to the 20-10 numbers that were expected from him, should Cavalier fans be concerned about one true big in Dwight Howard leaving and another one coming?
The answer is hazy, but I would say not that much. The Cavaliers could have their own emerging seven footer in rookie center Tyler Zeller, but time will be a big factor in determining if the two will ever have a chance to go head-to-head. Bynum may not even stay with the 76ers for very long, and I doubt Zeller will get enough minutes this season for us to see the two true big men go up against each other.
Now let’s take a look at teams in the East that I would consider to be true or emerging big men. Among the elite centers, I would place tags on Bynum, Roy Hibbert of the Indiana Pacers and reigning 2012 Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler. Looking at future stars, I could see Brook Lopez of the Brooklyn Nets and Greg Monroe as potential big threats in the Eastern Conference. In four seasons Lopez has career averages of 17.4 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.6 blocks while Monroe, in two seasons, has averages of 12.1 points, 8.5 rebounds and 0.6 blocks.
Now Bynum, who received a warm welcome from the folks of Philadelphia on Wednesday, in his seven seasons with the Lakers averaged 11.7 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.6 blocks. The 24-year-old center had a breakout season in 2011-12, averaging 18.7 points, 11.8 rebounds and 1.9 blocks, while shooting 55.8 percent from the field. Philadelphia is expecting him to be the 20-10 guy that Brand couldn’t be, and he has to be for this trade to be worthwhile.
As for now, the Cavaliers will have trouble containing Bynum whenever they go up against the Sixers, only because their center core is young and inexperienced. If they decide to put Anderson Varejao up against him, it will be a different story. Varejao is the most physical player on the Cavs roster, and he can match up against some of the elite NBA big men.
I think the Sixers got a center in Bynum who has more upside than Dwight Howard, but Howard is in the prime of his career and will cause a lot of matchup problems. But the teammates surrounding Howard in Orlando and Bynum’s situation in Philadelphia are totally different. As a team the 76ers will be a tougher foe than the Magic have been for the Cavs as of late (post-LeBron era).
The Cavaliers have a great talent coming up in Zeller, so in a few years Cleveland will be looking in on the other side of things.