Andrew Bynum Sets Sights on Being NBA's Best Center
Bynum believes he can be the best center of the decade.
"Of course. Of course,'' Bynum said in an interview with FanHouse following the Lakers' 107-97 win at Denver on Friday. "I just need to get the opportunity to do something like that. I believe that (he can be the best).''
It would be a tall order to overcome the NBA's premier tall guy. Howard, 25, has career averages of 17.8 points and 12.7 rebounds, including 22.1 and 13.3 this season. Bynum, 23, has career numbers of 10.3 points and 6.7 rebounds, including 11.0 and 7.3 this season.
The first thing Bynum needs to do is to stay healthy. He's had knee injuries that have hampered him for four straight seasons.
So what's the second thing the six-year man must do to reach his lofty goal? To borrow from another guy who has played in Los Angeles, former USC Trojan Keyshawn Johnson: "Just Give Me the Damn Ball.''
"I just got to get an opportunity to kind of be a focal point on this squad,'' said Bynum, who had 17 points, seven rebounds and two blocks in 27 minutes against the Nuggets while outplaying Nuggets center Nene, an All-Star candidate who had nine points, seven rebounds and no blocks in 35 minutes. "That's the only way to find out really (how good Bynum can be).''
Bynum was asked when he believes that must happen.
"Hopefully, it happens eventually. Soon,'' he said.
It sounds as if the 7-foot Bynum prefers soon. Even though he's still working his way into shape after missing the first 14 games of the season following summer knee surgery, he's bucking for more touches.
"I'm still recovering,'' Bynum said. "I'm still getting back to strength. I'd definitely like to get the ball more. That's how we're going to get more comfortable out there.''
Getting the ball is a tough request since the Lakers feature All-Stars Kobe Bryant at guard and Pau Gasol at forward, who average 25.0 and 15.6 points, respectively. Forward Lamar Odom, a starter until Bynum entered the lineup Dec. 29 after seven games of coming off the bench, is averaging 15.6. Bynum's 7.8 field-goal attempts per game ranks fifth on the team, even behind reserve guard Shannon Brown's 9.0.
But Bynum, who has no problem with Bryant and Gasol handling the bulk of the scoring load, has shown he can score when given an opportunity. In his first nine games last season, with Gasol out due to injury, Bynum averaged 20.3 points along with 11.8 rebounds. Injuries hit later in the season, but he did finish with a career-best 15.0 scoring average and 8.3 rebounds.
Before going down with a knee injury Jan. 31, 2009 that would sideline him for just over two months, Bynum had an incredible five-game stretch. He averaged 26.2 points and 13.8 points, including a 42-point, 15-rebound effort against the Clippers.
"We all know how good he is when he's healthy,'' said Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony. "You can see that. Bynum is good.''
He hasn't been as good this season as he works his way back from a torn meniscus suffered in the playoffs April 30 at Oklahoma City, which resulted in Bynum limping his way through the rest of the postseason. But he has averaged 13.8 points and 9.3 rebounds over 27.8 minutes in his past four games. Bynum is averaging just 24.1 minutes on the season, with his time increasing lately as his health has improved.
"He looks great,'' Bryant said. "He's moving very well. He's being more aggressive because he's feeling a lot better.''
Bynum will feel even better if he starts getting the ball more.