Andrew Bynum isn't happy with his play. The Lakers center described his recent performance as "a little below average."
Bynum is right, and he needs to improve his production. But it might be an adjustment for him just to be playing at this point in the year.
For the past two seasons, Bynum has dealt with significant knee injuries. Two years ago, he dislocated his left kneecap and played in only 35 games. And last year, Bynum was limited to 50 games with a torn medial collateral ligament in his right knee.
Just having him on the court in March is something new for the Lakers, who have gone through an adjustment period all season. With Ron Artest joining the team this year and Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant missing significant time due to injuries, the Lakers have gone through several transition periods.
|Despite being healthy for much of the season, Bynum's production has been very inconsistent. (US Presswire)|
Can Bynum step up his play? Will Lamar Odom suffer with the big men at 100 percent? Is Artest ever going to be an offensive force again?
At least Bryant is back on his game after dealing with finger and ankle injuries this season. He is averaging 31.0 points, 5.0 assists and 4.8 rebounds over his past five games and looks like an elite Fantasy option again. Bryant had struggled after missing five games in the middle of February.
"I think he's actually been very poised," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "No one really knows what he's going through, what type of pain level with his various injuries. He's deferring, I think, as well as he's ever done in his career. He's playing off other guys, he's giving them confidence, but he's also still able to have (big) games. I think it's showing a great deal of maturity and toughness. You know his body probably isn't right for all of the various reasons, but he's still finding a way to drive his team to win."
Added Artest: "Kobe is back to playing like his regular self. That's great to see."
Gasol has been consistent all season after missing the first 11 games due to a left hamstring injury, and he also missed five games in January with a strained right hamstring. He has five double-doubles in his past seven games and is a must-start Fantasy option.
It hasn't bothered Gasol that Bynum has been healthy. But Bynum's production has been inconsistent all season.
In his past six games, Bynum has two double-doubles, but he also has two games with a combined 11 points and 12 rebounds. As he said, he needs to improve. Until he starts posting consistent stats, Fantasy owners should view Bynum as a No. 2 Fantasy center.
"I think I'm just off a little bit," Bynum said. "I don't know. I just have to keep playing. I have to play myself out of it."
With Bynum and Gasol healthy, Odom has struggled. He did well when Gasol, Bynum and Bryant have missed time this season, averaging 11.2 points and 11.7 rebounds in January and 13.6 points and 10.6 rebounds in February. But recently, Odom's stats have taken a hit at 8.8 points and 6.6 rebounds in March. He's an unselfish player, which works well for the Lakers, but that doesn't bode well for his Fantasy production. Odom has never been about numbers, and he only wants to help the team win.
That attitude, unfortunately, lowers his Fantasy value.
"We have so many tools on this team with so many people we can go to," Odom said. "I just try to play an all-around game and try to fit in and incorporate my game where we need it the most. When we're at full strength we're a hard team to beat. It makes it fun."
Artest has had fun in his first year with the Lakers. He's tried out different hairdos, including a failed experiment at going blond. But Artest has sacrificed his offense to be a defensive stopper. He's only averaged 11.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.1 assists, which are well below his career stats, but he's likely the front runner for Defensive Player of the Year.
His offensive numbers show no signs of improving, however, and Artest's Fantasy value is limited the rest of this year.
"I'm just playing defense," Artest said.
The Lakers are the No. 1 team in the Western Conference and headed for another long playoff run. They might even defend the title they won last year now that everyone is healthy.
But the healthy Lakers have limited Fantasy value. Only Bryant and Gasol are guaranteed starters for Fantasy owners entering the playoffs.
The rest of the Lakers just aren't putting up enough quality stats. You can't fully count on Bynum, Odom and Artest in the majority of leagues based on their inconsistent production.