I wasn’t going to write a post on the injury to Andrew Bynum since it happened four days ago and numerous blogs have already covered it. But the news that Bynum will miss 12 weeks (lets face it, he’s gone for the rest of the season, the Lakers have even conceded it) along with Basketbawl blaming Kobe Bryant for the whole ordeal inspired me.
There is not much to add about the situation except, perhaps, for who becomes the hot Laker pickups now. No one is going to replace what Bynum did, but others will get more minutes and hence produce more stats.
Lakers coach Phil Jackson went with last season’s lineup in Monday’s game at New York, with Lamar Odom at power forward and Pau Gasol at center. Considering there are no real new pieces on this team, let’s look at last season’s post-Bynum-injury production to see what we can expect from some key Lakers.
Basically, what we already saw out of Bryant in Monday’s 61-point effort is that he’s probably going to feel the need to carry the Lakers for the rest of the season. The is great news if you own him as his three best scoring months last season came after Bynum got hurt. But you weren’t really shopping him around anyway, were you?
Odom’s worst overall month last season came in January, just as Bynum was beginning to flourish. After Bynum’s injury (and the subsequent trade for Gasol), he averaged better than 15 points, 11 rebounds, one block and one steal per game. Pretty sweet potential numbers from a guy many owners probably conceded was a bad draft pick.
Playing alongside Bynum for the first time this season, Gasol’s percentages held steady and his rebounds increased (probably due to being matched up with lesser rebounders while Bynum took on true centers) but his blocks plummeted and his scoring dropped slightly.
Now back as the man in the middle for the Lakers, Gasol will probably revert closer to last season’s numbers with a little more scoring and blocks and a dip in rebounds.
The rest of the Lakers roster is a little more difficult to flesh out. Luke Walton started at small forward on Monday and played 22 minutes with six points, five assists, three rebounds and a block.
Walton is now two years removed from the best season of his career, and even with Bynum’s injury it’s hard to see him get the 33 minutes per game he needed to produce at that level.
Trevor Ariza got the fourth-most minutes for the Lakers on Monday and is worth a pickup in all but the smallest leagues.
Ariza has gotten some inconsistent playing time this season but there is no doubt about his abailities and just the possibility of him getting around 30 minutes per game is worth a shot. He could put up 11 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists and two steals with a solid FG% and some 3-pointers.
Every team could use a player like that towards the end of its bench.
I have touted Jordan Farmar in this space before and lamented Phil Jackson’s unwillingness to play him more minutes, but the tide may be turning. Playing just 19 minutes per game before suffering a knee injury in December, Farmar returned last week and has played more than 20 minutes in two of five games since his return.
There is no guarantee his playing time will increase, of course. He’s young and a little erratic and those are things that will get him benched by Jackson for stretches at a time. But his per minute numbers (14.5 points, 4.1 assists, 1.9 steals, 1.6 3-pointers) suggest that he may be worth a look if you’re searching for an under-the-radar secondary point guard in a deep league.
Derek Fisher’s ever-present value with stay steady and the rest of the Lakers are a bunch of fantasy one-trick ponies, including Vladimir Radmanovic and Sasha Vujacic.
Basically, it’s a terrible blow if you own Bynum but a bit of a lift if you have Bryant, Odom or Gasol. Fisher remains solid if unspectacular, Ariza is worth a pickup as a utility option and small ball teams in deep leagues could benefit from Farmar in the not-too-distant future.