Lakers are better with Bynum, regardless of production
By Matt "Money" Smith
FOX Sports West and PRIME TICKET
If you happen to be employed (congratulations) at a typical workplace, chances are you have one or more members of middle management rolling around the office.
Think real hard about exactly what it is that they're hired to do. They likely stay on top of your vacation days, sign your expense forms (cutting down the mileage you submit), schedule the afternoon conference call providing the dial in number and access code, and for the most part, tell the boss how great he or she is while making their life a little bit easier. I have nothing against those people, it's a great job and they make decent money. The only stress they have to deal with is a number cruncher sooner or later realizing they could function without you. It might tax a few other workers at the start, but they'd get used to the extra work as time went on.
When it comes to the Lakers, Andrew Bynum has become middle management.
He's not paid like middle management, but that's bound to be corrected at the end of this short contract that was brilliantly put together by Mitch Kupchak. The three-year deal, with a team option in the fourth year, cost the Lakers far too much for what Bynum has provided thus far, but they needed a way to keep him around and a short deal gave them an idea of what he is, both young and talented but fragile and not to be counted on.
When Bynum is around, he makes life easier on the true producers in the company. He does just enough to make them more efficient and the Lakers to operate at max efficiency.
Look at the three games prior to his return compared to the last two the team has played with his contributing just 18 minutes per game. Bynum only offered up two field goals on nine shots, nine total rebounds and two blocked shots. But the 18 minutes of play allowed Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom to flourish thanks to the extra rest each of them benefited from with Bynum's return. Gasol went from shooting 40% and averaging 15 points in the three games leading up to Bynum's return, to 57% shooting and 22 points in the two games with Bynum back. Odom's seven rebounds per contest jumped to 13 and a half, and even Kobe Bryant benefited, as he has played less minutes but scored the same amount of points and did it while shooting 58% from the floor with less than a turnover per game.
Basically all the Lakers who have been the foundation of the team's success increased their production because middle management came back.
Phil Jackson told reporters when asked if the acquisition of Joe Smith would help the team out at all.
"Well, John Doe could the way we're playing, and we're hoping John Doe would be a big guy," Jackson said.
I know there have been many pushing for a myriad of nicknames for Bynum since his emergence as a quality player. Some suggestions that have come and gone included "AB," "Bynum-mite," "A-Train" and my personal favorite "Socks." But the way Bynum has played, and based on what Jackson was looking for, "John Doe" just might work.
Applying his production and performance in the last two games to the average office, Bynum came up with a way to submit vacation requests online and created a parking system so everyone gets a good spot at least once a week. In turn, that put employees minds at ease so they could do their jobs, which is actually making the company millions.
We would all like to see Bynum perform at his peak level from a year ago when the all-star game and his being a top-five center in the league was in the conversation. But with the talent the Lakers have on this team, 18 minutes a night, a John Doe like performance to keep Gasol and Odom fresh, and the ability to show up to work every day while wasting away in middle management, might be all the company needs to maximize production.
Matt "Money" Smith can be heard Monday-Friday on The Petros and Money Show on FOX Sports Radio's KLAC-AM 570 from 3 pm to 7 pm (PT).