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Andrew Bynum's Redundance

Apr. 7, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum (17) and Phoenix Suns center Marcin Gortat (4) at the US Airways Center. The Suns defeated the Lakers 125-105. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Andrew Bynum is a Cleveland Cavalier.

The reasoning is simple: Bynum is a high-risk, high-reward rental as the Cavaliers try to make the playoffs for the first time since the Decision. When healthy, he provides elite post scoring and rim protection (the only other Cavalier who checks both boxes is 6’8″ Tristan Thompson.) It helps that Bynum is a monstrous 7’0″ 285 lbs. playing the least stacked position (center) in the lesser Eastern conference. Bynum even comes cheaply, as the Cavaliers may pay the All-NBA Second Teamer as little as $6 million next season.

Nevertheless, there is a reason that someone with Andrew Bynum’s scarce talent is available at such a bargain. Bynum played exactly zero games last season and he has a history of major injuries. This on a team where sixth man Dion Waiters missed 21 games, All-Star Kyrie Irving missed 23 games and starting center Anderson Varejao missed 57 games, not to mention that #1 overall draft pick Anthony Bennett is rehabbing from a shoulder injury.

Furthermore, Andrew Bynum is most effective with the ball in his hands. The same could be said of Irving, Waiters, Bennett and recent acquisition Jarrett Jack. Stylistically, Bynum’s post-ups necessitate a slower tempo while clogging driving lanes. Basically, with the ball in Bynum’s hands, the others become witnesses not participants–and vice versa when a guard isolates, as Bynum cannot even space the floor as Irving et al. can.

The Cavaliers will probably figure something out offensively, though it may be a vanilla, 2013 Brooklyn Nets scheme. Defensively, however, four of their top six players fall somewhere between lazy and awful. Andrew Bynum helps to an extent merely by being a very large mammal with long arms. Beyond the shots he blocks outright, Bynum’s bulk and wingspan enable him to alter shots like Roy Hibbert-lite. But in a pick-and-roll league, Bynum’s lack of mobility and lateral quickness do him no favors, especially considering the leaky perimeter defenders forming the first lines of defense. Remarkably, Bynum averaged less than two fouls in his last healthy season, though I would not expect a repeat performance without the paint becoming a buffet line. One solution is pairing Bynum with Varejao, as their strengths and weaknesses complement each other defensively; however, the spacing toll would be heavy on the other end as neither can shoot reliably outside the paint.

The current Cleveland Cavaliers roster is probably not the same one they end next season with. It may not even be the same roster opening night, and the Cavaliers front office could have done a lot worse than Andrew Bynum. That said, it would appear the Cavaliers tried to hoard a fistful of players with upside without really considering how they fit together. While he does provide some unique services, on the whole Bynum replicates what the Cavaliers already have in spades (i.e. injury-prone, defensively limited volume scorers).

Tags: Andrew Bynum Cleveland Cavaliers

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