The Philadelphia 76ers Were Right To Trade For Andrew BynumBasketball, The Rev — By Rev. P. Revere on March 13, 2013 at 12:01 am
A couple of weeks ago on The Unsportsmanlike Conduct Show, I expressed my disdain for all things Andrew Bynum. The annoyance around Bynum and his sideshow, as opposed to Andrew Bynum the basketball player, had reached its tipping point, to the point where our own Justin Tinsley, on behalf of the African-American community, gave me permission to utter a racial epithet at the Philadelphia 76ers’ newest star center that isn’t.
I politely declined to accept the offer since I’m not really into degrading racial slurs, but I made it abundantly clear that I had no desire to hear any more on the Andrew Bynum front until his got his bum ass out on the basketball court for a real, live basketball game. All this talk of his hair, his workouts, his knee, his bowling, his everything and anything except actual basketball was being discussed ad nauseam.
Then, more recently, the narrative changed. It went from “when is Andrew Bynum gonna fix his hair” to “is this the worst trade of all time?” Let me unequivocally, permanently state that the Philadelphia 76ers were 100 percent right to trade for Andrew Bynum. Even with everything I know now, even with everything that has (or has not) gone down, I’d make this trade 100 times out of 100 all over again. And so would the 76ers, no matter what anyone else would tell you.
Why? Because in Andrew Bynum, the Sixers took a gamble on a true franchise-changer, the type of player that can instantly turn a team from an also-ran to a contender. When he was healthy — which admittedly wasn’t often — Bynum displayed the type of center play no one else in the entire NBA today has, including Dwight Howard. Healthy Andrew Bynum is a force both offensively and defensively, with tremendous footwork, post moves and paint presence. Simply put, he’s a game-changer.
The Sixers haven’t had one of those since Allen Iverson version 1.0, and they haven’t had a center in that ilk since Moses Malone first came to town. For all this talk about the Sixers giving up “four first-round draft picks” in the four-team trade, not a single one of those picks as of yet can even remotely be considered a franchise-changing asset. Andre Iguodala is a terrific defender, one of the very best in the entire league. He’s also an intelligent player who can do a little bit of everything on the court. What he can’t do is carry a franchise and make it a contender. We know that unequivocally after watching fail to live up to the big man on campus standard set by the A.I. before him in Philadelphia.
Maurice Harkless very well may turn into a quality NBA player, but as a rookie, he’s a bench player averaging just over 20 minutes a night for a putrid Orlando Magic team, and while his teammate Nikola Vucevic is among the top five rebounders in the league and a true double-double threat every night (who also has dominated his former team this season), he’s hardly the type of guy who can carry a squad. So yeah, the Sixers gave away “four first-round picks” (the other being a protected first-round pick), but they didn’t give up a single player who could impact their franchise the way Bynum potentially could.
Further, the Sixers have been locked in a sort of basketball purgatory ever since that magical run to the Finals in the 2000-01 season. They went from the Eastern Conference champions to a team that had to claw and scratch its way to the postseason as a 6, 7 or 8 seed. In the NBA, that’s a worse fate than the hell of a lost season, because it means there are no ping pong balls there to potentially save you. You get stuck with the mid-round picks, the guys who every now and then yet very rarely become the franchise cornerstones to build around.
While they’ve had some success in getting quality players like Andre Iguodala, Lou Williams and Thaddeus Young, the only one you can call even a potential star to build around is current all-star Jrue Holiday, who cannot even be considered among the elite point guards as of yet.