Lakers: If Andrew Bynum is healthy, the 76ers will have a star

Posted: December 16, 2012

WASHINGTON - Los Angeles Lakers assistant coach Chuck Person didn't hesitate when asked what the 76ers fans are missing most by not seeing center Andrew Bynum on the court yet this season.

"Twenty and 10," Person said, referring to 20 points and 10 rebounds per game.

The 25-year-old Bynum has yet to play this season because of bruises in both knees. He is coming off his best of seven seasons with the Lakers, when he averaged 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds and earned his first all-star berth.

The Lakers will make their only Philadelphia appearance when they face the Sixers at 6 p.m. Sunday at the Wells Fargo Center, providing Bynum's ex-teammates a chance for a brief reunion. He was dealt to the Sixers as part of the four-team trade that sent Dwight Howard to the Lakers and Andre Iguodala to the Nuggets.

During their time together, Bynum left a lasting impression on his former teammates, including one who isn't easily impressed.

"He can do everything," Kobe Bryant said after Friday's 102-96 Lakers win over the Washington Wizards at the Verizon Center. "There really isn't anything he can't do."

Then Bryant stated the obvious.

"The biggest thing for Andrew is just his health," Bryant said. ". . . If he gets healthy, they have an incredible, incredible center."

Apparently, one who can easily reach a boiling point.

"He is a pretty even-keeled guy, but he has a temper which I always enjoyed because he was always kind of on edge," said Bryant, whose team is just 10-14 and snapped a four-game losing streak with the victory over the Wizards. "I just hope he gets healthy."

Bynum has been characterized as carefree and not always focused. But his former teammates painted a different picture, talking about how he fought through knee injuries for long stretches of his Lakers tenure.

"He is a warrior," said Metta World Peace, formerly known as Ron Artest, who played on the Lakers' 2010 NBA title team with Bynum. "I remember in the Finals his knee was basically bone on bone, and he fought through it."

And then World Peace made an emphatic statement.

"Without him we don't get that ring," he said.

Bynum also was part of the Lakers' 2009 title team.

Person said he would marvel at all that Bynum used to do just to get on the court.

"I have seen him sit there for hours doing the things he needed to rehab and play," Person said. "He is very motivated, and if he can play, he will."

Person, who averaged 14.7 points in 13 NBA seasons, said Bynum continually improved his game each season with the Lakers.

The biggest improvement?

"Playing with either hand," Person said. "When he first got there he didn't have a lefthanded jump hook."

Now, Person said, that could be his best offensive weapon.

Forward-center Pau Gasol, a four-time all-star, said that what he enjoyed was seeing Bynum's progression.

"He has really improved over the years," Gasol said. "Last year he really established himself in the low post and in being really reliable and dominating a lot of games."

Gasol said that, when healthy, Bynum offers the complete package.

"His size and low-post work are so impressive," Gasol said. "He is a very good shot-blocker, has very good timing, and was a real defensive safety for the team."

Then, pausing, Gasol added: "When healthy, he is a great player."

When healthy is the obvious disclaimer when discussing Bynum.

Gasol, who has missed the last seven games with tendinitis in both knees, said he expected Bynum to pick up where he left off once he does return.

"The fans of Philadelphia have something to look forward to with Andrew," Gasol said. "He is a talented player and young and still has a lot of things to do to improve, and let's see how it goes."


Contact Marc Narducci at mnarducci@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @sjnard.

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