Nearly two weeks into the current NBA season, the 3-2 Clippers are still the big deal when it comes to grabbing headlines out of Los Angeles. But the news about one of the game’s best big right now still comes out of the Lakers’ camp.
Andrew Bynum, suspended the first four games of the season for his removing J.J. Barea from his shoes in last year’s Western Conference semifinals, has been on a tear — in reality and fantasy — since his shortened punishment came to an end.
The Lakers’ 7-foot 285-pound center has been back since Dec. 31 and is ranked 15th overall in fantasy and seventh at the center position in nine-category leagues over the last seven days.
During those seven days and three games leading up to tonight’s game at Portland, Bynum has played 32:40 a game, is shooting .622 from the field, .571 from the stripe and averaging 22.7 points, 17.0 boards and 2.0 blocks.
He enters tonight’s Trail Blazers game coming off his first career 20-20 game — 21 points and 22 rebounds — with three blocks in a team-high 38 minutes. And he said his conditioning is still not where he wants it to be.
The condition of Bynum has always been his problem as a reliable or dependable fantasy player.
A year after being drafted last in the fourth round of last year’s Athlon Sports one-keeper, two-starting centers draft — with nine keepers ahead of him, Bynum was selected as the fifth pick in the sixth round with five keepers ahead of him.
The draft drop came on the heels of Bynum averaging 11.3 points, 9.4 boards and 2.0 blocks in 54 games — just one below the 55.3 games he’s averaged for his career.
And it’s the 55.3 that scares most fantasy players — and certainly Lakers fans — more than any other number.
ESPN’s Brian McKitish, citing the injuries that have plagued Bynum his entire six-year career, gave him a preseason rank of 19th. In Yahoo leagues this season, Bynum had an average draft position of 67.5 this season, making him a late fifth-round pick. The Yahoo/Rotowire preseason kit gave Bynum a ranking of 15th at the center position, also giving him props for his upside but acknowledging that if healthy he’s a worthy gamble.
Bynum’s production will be off the charts if that number of games played is in the 70s. Add in the departure of Lamar Odom, being surrounded by a 33-year-old Kobe Bryant, a 31-year-old Pau Gasol and a condensed season means everyone that drafted Bynum, 24, got a helluva deal this year.
Let the run of 20-20s begin.
By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter