01 January 2007

It Really Is Going to be Andrew Bynum's World

The Lakers have been hit by injuries this year pretty severely, yet are still 20-11. Chris Mihm out for the year, Lamar Odom out for anywhere from six to ten weeks (and they are 5-5 so far without him), and now Kwame Brown looks likely to miss a month or more (that's still speculation, but here's hoping it's something that can heal in a month or less).

The Lakers have two people left who can play a 'true' center, and they're both 2nd year players, though neither played much last year, so both are practically rookies.

Andrew Bynum, whether he's ready or not, is going to have to play major minutes for the Lakers at center. He's still very, very young, still learning his position, still soaking up all the knowledge that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar can bestow upon him, and despite all that's against him, capable of meeting this challenge.

He's a hard worker with the right mindset to meet this challenge as an opportunity rather than a burden.

If not, the Lakers will slip to the bottom of the Western Conference playoff hunt.

If he lives up to the challenge, then the Lakers will have a monster of a team when they get Odom and Brown back some time after the All Star break.

If the Lakers continue to play .500 ball with these injuries, they could be a fearsome team during the last 30 games of the season when everyone gets healthy.

That's a lot of 'ifs', and if I wasn't a dedicated Laker fan for better than 25 years (I stayed up to watch the rebroadcast of their first Showtime Era title back in 1980, the NBA didn't merit live coverage in one of the team's home markets on a Friday night, even during the clinching game of the finals back then, hard to believe now) I wouldn't even be dreaming of that the Lakers could withstand this latest spate of injuries and still stay with the elite teams of the league.

But I am a homer, and they do have great potential as a team, and Kobe is still Kobe, so they are capable of losing to any team in the league, and beating any team in the league, on any given night.

Also, when the Lakers first signed Kwame Brown, I doubt many folks thought it was a worthwhile gamble, but he's proven to be the player he was drafted to be for most of the games this season (#1 overall) rather than the player he became in Chicago and Washington.

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