Unfortunately, based on the word coming out of Lakers camp via the OC Register's Kevin Ding, Bynum's a little behind schedule on that whole "next Kareem" thing. As in, he may not start. The wunderkind is apparently having issues meshing with Pau Gasol, and Lamar Odom has outworked him in training camp. The issue, at least according to Tex Winter, is one of effort.
"He's just not exerting himself, maybe," Winter said. "And most of the other guys are. I think he just needs to play a little harder."
Bynum has said himself that practice work hasn't had him completely riveted.
"This is the first year where it's kind of a little bit boring just because we have to run through the same stuff we already know," he said.
Oh, well. I'm sure that was the attitude of every greatest center who missed multiple return dates inside of a year and actually shrugged off the advice of the Lakers' medical team in support of his private doctors. You know. Those legends.
Look, the kid's got unbelievable talent, and his statistical progression indicates that it's possible he's on the verge of becoming a legitimate superstar in this league. But considering his noted history of motivation issues and the rather distressing way he missed about ten rehab deadlines last year when the Lakers kind of sort of could have used him, maybe we should wait and see a little bit more with him. You know, we can polish his MVP trophy in anticipation of giving it to him.
In all seriousness, Bynum will probably be just fine. He popped in 15 points and 8 rebounds in 24 minutes of preseason play tonight, for starters, and coming off the bench may just mean a different way to complement Pau Gasol. But for as much as people have invested in him as one of the top players in the league, every now and then, there are serious warning signs that there's more than meets the eye. In a non-cool, robot-transforming way.