Dorell Wright is now Andrew Bynum‘s teammate in Philadelphia. Let’s ignore that fact for just a minute, because as we saw recently with Chris Paul, a good teammate will never throw his teammate under the bus, and by all accounts, Dorell Wright is a good teammate. We can take his proclamation seriously for just a minute because over the past year, blinded by near 19/12 averages, there were many saying this same thing.
Wright told Tom Moore of phillyBurbs.com about Bynum: “He’s going to need two defenders to stop him. I would say he’s the best big man in the NBA right now, hands down.”
Asked about the whole teammate thing, and whether he was just sticking up for his new center, the former Warrior added, “No way. I’ll say that any day because he can put his back to the basket and (score and demand) a double team each and every time. And he makes free throws. He’s younger, too. I think it’s your all-around game when you’re a big man.”
So Wright is making his stance very clear: Bynum is hands down the best center in the world, which also means the seven-footer is hands down better than Dwight Howard. To Wright (as well as many basketball fans), Bynum is more skilled offensively, draws more double-teams and actually makes his free throws. He’s younger, isn’t coming off back surgery and now has an entire team to himself with the Sixers.
Some of that is true. But Bynum isn’t the best center in the league.
For starters, before we even get into the debate over Wright’s statement, Howard is clearly the better fit in L.A. He’s the best pick-n-roll finisher in the league, and finished second behind Blake Griffin with 5.2 buckets a game at the rim, which should pay dividends now that he switched Jameer Nelson for Steve Nash, who accounts for more assists at the rim than any player in basketball (and has done that for six straight seasons). Defensively, the Lakers will still struggle against uptempo teams like Oklahoma City and Denver. But at least with Howard, they’ll have a shot.
Bynum should be a 20/10 force in Philadelphia. But he will have growing pains as well. He handles double-teams about as well as T.J. Lang handled Monday night, and now he won’t have Pau Gasol beside him or Kobe Bryant creating easy shots at the rim. He’ll be an All-Star, but will he be a franchise-changer? I’m not sure.