Before even considering the impact and overall improvement this move may have on the team, Sixer fans should be appreciative of the mere magnitude of the move. Since the start of the Snider regime in the 1990’s, the organization has too often laid dormant instead of making a deal, leading to a couple decades of extended mediocrity, at times well-masked by the team’s original A.I.
The new ownership group on the other hand, has shown a genuine interest in improving the organization, and the fact that they were able to orchestrate such a potentially franchise-changing, albeit slightly risky move, shows strong signs of promise for the future of the franchise.
The next item to address before discussing on-court basketball business is the departure of Olympian Andre Iguodala, who by all accounts was ready to move past the Philadelphia-based portion of his career. Andre was a polarizing figure in Philadelphia sports to say the least, overpaid to some, vastly underrated to others. Whatever the opinion, the talent was always evident, as was the fact that Dre never quite fit in with Philly, as the city looked for him to fill Iverson’s superstar shoes; a role he was clearly never comfortable in. This summer’s Olympics have perfectly illustrated what Iguodala can bring to a basketball team, as he has flourished in his supporting role, supplementing other stars. While the Sixers will miss his defense and versatility, it was a move that needed to be made in order to acquire the League’s second best center.
Basketball-wise this move was a no-brainer. The one thing that the Sixers have desperately lacked over recent seasons is a quality, go-to big man, and boy does Bynum fit that billing. Supremely athletic, Bynum will greatly improve the Sixers on both ends of the floor; protecting the rim and bodying up the League’s best bigs on one end, and providing a legitimate low-post scoring option on the other. Make no mistake, Bynum is a beast on the block. He is coming off of a career year in which he put up 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds per, in a career high 35 minutes a game. Those are extremely solid numbers, and one could only imagine that they will improve this season as he serves as the Sixers’ main scoring option, rather than playing second fiddle to the Kobe show.
A big the quality of Bynum instantly improves the Sixer team, giving them a superior frontcourt that may only be able to be bested in the East by Boston or the Bulls. Andrew’s presence of course alters the way the team plays; with an actual inside scoring option the team doesn’t need to rely as heavily on the fast break. Instead, they can run the offense through Andrew and allow him to operate, looking for his own shot or kicking it out to one of the team’s newly acquired deep threats. The additions of J-Rich, Dorell Wright, and the hot-handed Nick Young fit perfectly with the big guy on the block, as the Sixers are now, for the first time in recent memory, are a complete inside-outside team. Bynum’s commanding presence on the block should open up ample shots for the perimeter players, as well as opening up the driving lane for Evan and Jrue.
Like with almost every deal there are potential drawbacks and detractors, but in this case those seem to have been kept to a minimum. Injuries have been an issue with Andrew, as even now reports are surfacing that he is scheduled to have an experimental, non-evasive knee procedure this summer over in Germany. He has missed some time for an injury in all but 2 of his seven seasons with the Lakers, and injuries are always especially a concern with bigs whose bodies tend to break down. Bynum however is coming off a healthy, and extremely successful 2011-2012 campaign in which he started 60 of the team’s 66 games, playing the highest mpg of his career. So this, at least, is a good sign for Sixer fans.
Aside from injuries the issue of attitude has haunted Andrew, as he had some well-documented drama during his time in Laker land. There is the feeling among some that Andrew is hot-headed and selfish, and potentially detrimental to a team. This brings up the question of how Andrew will adjust to a young team without a clear-cut respected leader like Kobe to keep him in check. While a potential problem is always a possibility, therit is more likely that Bynum will embrace his role on the young Sixer squad, happy to finally be a centerpiece (pun intended) to a team rather than just a side option. Obvioulsy it’s difficult to predict how it will play out, but Coach Collins has a way with players, so don’t be too surprised to see Andrew thrive at center for the 7-6.
If Bynum and Philadelphia are a good fit this season then hopefully the team can lock him down long term. If not, then Andrew is a free agent after this season and the two can go their separate ways, leaving the Sixers with a ton of cap space to pursue other free agents. Sounds like a win-win. Worst case scenario is the Sixers use Bynum for a season, making them better than they would have been, he leaves, and then the team has a plethora of cap space and the potential to sign a big name free agnet or two.
Of course the organization is hoping that the 24 year old Bynum will stay in town for quite some time, rounding out the Sixers quality young core and providing their post presence of the future.
These are encouraging times for Sixer fans. Although we must wait to see how Bynum’s future will play out in Philly, this season will certainly be more exciting with his pretense in the post, and it is promising to see the organization make moves to put the team in a position to succeed.
So get excited people, basketball is really back in Philadelphia.