The NBA career of Andrew Bynum is at a crossroads. After being traded from the Los Angeles Lakers to the Philadelphia 76ers in the summer of 2012, Bynum has experienced one non-event of a season in Philly and a severely disappointing stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers this season before his release. When the Indiana Pacers signed Bynum in early February, it was unclear exactly how much Bynum could contribute, both because of his health, his diminished production on the floor, and the eternal questions about his motivation and willingness to fill a role rather than maximizing his stats. As a Pacer, Bynum has the opportunity to play for a title contender, but he also must reconstruct his career as something other than a budding star. He needs to show that he wants to stay in the NBA, no matter how.
On Tuesday night, Bynum made his Pacers debut in a 94-83 win over the visiting Boston Celtics. The early returns were quite positive. In just 16 minutes, Bynum logged eight points (3-of-4 FG) and 10 rebounds (three offensive). He also dunked on his first touch:
Bynum spoke about his impressive performance in a postgame interview with Brooke Olzendam of Fox Sports Indiana (via 8 Points 9 Seconds):
That's not to say that everything Bynum did was excellent. He also committed three turnovers, a lackluster mark given his limited minutes. More importantly, Bynum did not always move particularly well on defense. Knowing head coach Frank Vogel's focus, we can safely assume that Bynum's defensive abilities will determine his playing time more than anything else.
But those per-minute stats don't lie, and the Pacers have reason to think that Bynum can be a contributor moving forward. At the same time, we didn't see a ton of evidence that Bynum is anything more than a decent backup to Roy Hibbert. The Pacers didn't acquire a star-in-waiting. The good news is that, with Ian Mahinmi out and the team in the midst of a middling run of form, adding a solid role player could do Indiana a lot of good.
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