Los Angeles Lakers: What Andrew Bynum’s Return Means for Kobe Bryant and Co.

Being a Lakers fan has been quite the struggle the past three weeks. Watching the perennial powerhouse lose five of their last nine, four of which were to sub-.500 teams, makes watching a Nicholas Cage movie bearable.

Purple and gold lovers might say "Ross, that's all wrong, they only lost to three bad teams." True, but doesn't beating the Clippers by one in Staples Center feel like a 20-point loss?


The two-time defending NBA champs have looked sluggish since Thanksgiving, not realizing tryptophan's effects only last a couple of hours. Kobe Bryant complained to the press after Sunday's victory that the team isn't coming out with energy or motivation, which is never a good sign.

Compile that with the fact Phil Jackson is already calling out the refs, a move he normally saves for March, and Los Angeles has a problem.

Luckily, help is on the way. According to Mike Bresnahan, Lakers' beat writer for the Los Angeles Times, Andrew Bynum will play Tuesday against the Washington Wizards after a solid practice Monday. The center will make the most anxiously anticipated Lakers' debut since they drafted John Celestand in 1999.

Google it.

In reality, Bynum's return is not only the return of one player; it's the return of sanity. If he can keep out of injury trouble, the Lakers can return to, and possibly improve upon, the dominating ways they stared the season with.

No "If," however, has ever been bigger.

The one man awaiting Bynum's impact most is Pau Gasol. Over the last nine games, the Spaniard is shooting only 43 percent from the field, a sizable drop from how he started the year, while averaging more than 41 minutes per game, nearly six more than his career average. 

Between the center and power forward positions, there are 96 total minutes. If Bynum merely plays 20 minutes, Lamar Odom and Gasol can split the rest, giving each 38 minutes, ro...

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