NBA AM: Why Rush Andrew Bynum Back?
Dominant big men are a dying breed in today’s NBA game, but the league’s historical landscape is littered with elite centers leading their respective franchises to postseason berths and championships. This is one of the reasons why the Philadelphia 76ers, with four playoff appearances over the past five seasons, acquired All-Star center Andrew Bynum from the Los Angeles Lakers this past summer to become the face of the franchise.
Bynum, by most accounts, is the league’s second best center behind the Lakers’ Dwight Howard, but the eighth year pro also has an extensive injury history with his lower extremities since entering the league. Over the past few months, Bynum has received various knee treatments ranging from platelet therapy in Germany to injections of Synvisc-One, which treats osteoarthritis.
Bynum is expected to practice with his new teammates for the first time today and is eyeing a return to the court for the club’s regular season opener at home versus the Denver Nuggets on October 31.
“Andrew’s doing well,” Sixers head coach Doug Collins said according to John Mitchell of the Philadelphia Inquirer. “He’s progressing and on track to where I think he hoped he would be at this time. Obviously, the next step for him is getting running and weight-bearing.”
The Sixers finished their preseason slate with a sparkling 6-1 record without Bynum in the lineup. Although preseason doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things, the team recorded three double-digit victories, which included a 32-point thumping of the Boston Celtics.
While the team’s fan base may be overcome with anticipation to see their newest All-Star acquisition in action, you have to question if the club wouldn’t be better served exercising more patience with Bynum’s first in-game appearance, especially with nine games versus non-playoff teams on the slate in the season’s first month including New Orleans, Toronto (twice), Milwaukee, Detroit, Cleveland (twice), Phoenix and Charlotte.
“A lot of that is going to be how he responds to increased activity,” Collins said last week on whether Bynum would be ready for the start of the season. “I know how important the home opener is, but we’re not going to do anything silly and have another setback where it costs you and now you have to miss more games.”
If there ever was a time this season for the Sixers to potentially rest their star and get his conditioning up to speed and strengthen out his core, it would be the early going.
Glen Davis Emerging As A Leader For Orlando
The Orlando Magic are in the beginning stages of a massive rebuilding project driven by the departure of All-Star center Dwight Howard via trade to the Los Angeles Lakers. The team will be a lot younger this season without veterans such as Howard and Jason Richardson in the rotation so the need for new leadership to emerge is a vital element in the team’s progression.
Enter power forward Glen Davis as an early candidate to grab some of the leadership reins in Orlando.
Davis had a reputation of being a bit selfish during his previous stint with the Boston Celtics and former teammates have often spoke on Davis’ penchant for forcing his offense sometimes to the detriment of the team.
But heading into the 2012-13 campaign, Davis has put the past in his rearview mirror.
“It’s like a whole different world, a whole different person,” Davis told Joshua Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel. “When you’ve got the organization, as far as the GM, motivating and saying good things as far as ‘keep it up,’ and you’ve got so many people behind you, that confidence grows. And you start really believing. I’ve always seen it: One day I will have an opportunity to lead. But I never had that opportunity. Now, the opportunity is here, and the organization and the coaches and the team just keeps feeding that fire. Now, there’s a responsibility. You start believing in that character. You start to walk the walk, because it’s important.”
It’s hard to argue this point judging by Davis’ recent play on the court. The former LSU standout averaged 19 points and 9.2 rebounds per game during the Magic’s postseason run in 2012 and is averaging an impressive 18.8 points and 6.8 rebounds during the team’s preseason slate heading into the 2012-13 campaign.
Davis feels this is his year to take his game to the next level.
“You have to seize the moment,” Davis said. “I’ve been around the league for a while now. I’ve seen a lot of great players play. I’ve seen what to do and what it takes to win, and I’ve seen what it doesn’t take to win. I’ve seen it. So I know the dos and don’ts, and it’s my opportunity here to seize it, and I’m letting it all hang out.”
Timeline For Rasheed Wallace Being Fast Tracked
The New York Knicks’ frontcourt is banged up heading into the season. All-Star forward Amar’e Stoudemire will likely miss the first month of the season nursing a knee injury and veteran center Marcus Camby isn’t physically ready to play just yet.
So Rasheed Wallace, fresh out of a two-year retirement, may be forced into action faster than originally expected to help bolster the team’s frontcourt depth.
“With me getting back and getting acclimated with the game again, I know it’s going to take time,” Wallace told Marc Berman of the New York Post. “I know I am not going to go out and play 30-35 minutes when I do start playing, but I’ve just got to work my way into it.
“I feel that desire, like my timetable got moved up [because of Stoudemire’s injury]. But there again, it’s up to Coach [Mike] Woodson. I’m ready when he needs me. Bottom line, the load has increased a lot.’’
Knicks head coach Mike Woodson was impressed with Wallace after seeing the veteran participate in his first official practice with the team on Tuesday.
“We’re going to probably start to experience some contact [Friday], and get some officials in and have a couple of scrimmages and try to test him and see where he is and go from there,” Woodson said. “Today was his first day where he actually ran with the team and did all the conditioning that we do at the top of the practice, and it was nice to see. He got through that. It’s just a matter of time, but when that is, I don’t know yet.”
How much Wallace can contribute physically on the court this season remains to be seen, but he is expected to provide a Knicks team plagued by immaturity last season with a veteran presence in the locker room.
HOOPSWORLD Season Previews: The 2012-13 NBA season is rapidly approaching and there are plenty of early storylines emerging.
Can the Miami HEAT repeat their championship quest from last season? Is this the final championship run for the aging Boston Celtics and San Antonio Spurs? Will Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks finally put all of their talent together and join the league’s elite? Can the new-look Los Angeles Lakers, now boasting Dwight Howard and Steve Nash unseat the Oklahoma City Thunder as Western Conference champions? Is this the year the Minnesota Timberwolves reach the playoffs behind All-Star Kevin Love? Likewise, the Toronto Raptors and Golden State Warriors are poised to make playoff runs of their own, but can they seal the deal? Are the Dallas Mavericks toast, or will their new group of hungry veterans surprise us all?
The HOOPSWORLD team has these questions and more all covered and you can find season previews for all 30 NBA teams by following this link.
NBA Chats: There are two NBA chats on the schedule today. Alex Kennedy will be taking your questions starting at 3pm. Next, I will be answering your questions at 8pm EST. Anything NBA related is fair game, drop me a question.