Andrew Bynum: a Superstar in the Making?
The new center for the Philadelphia 76ers is expected to be the main attraction this year. What's the ceiling on the 7-footer?
He's not Julius Erving.
No one will ever be able to claim the fame that Dr. J. earned when he joined the Philadelphia 76ers, leading them to an NBA Championship game in his first season in the franchise's magic bicentennial year of 1976.
But could Andrew Bynum be the next superstar in the pantheon of Sixer greats?
Based on the turnout of Philly fans for the press conference announcing his arrival in town last Wednesday, the city is prepared to anoint him.
The big center, one of the only true seven-foot talents in the league, was acquired from the Los Angeles Lakers to be the man here. But Bynum is in the final year of his contract, and hanging any expectations on him beyond this season would be premature.
Just don't tell him that.
"My experience here so far has been great that I'm leaning toward making this my home," Bynum told the crowd, which screamed with excitement.
The Plainsboro, NJ, native has put up strong numbers as one of the top centers in the league, averaging 12 and 8 and 26 minutes per game in the nearly 400 games played in his seven-year career. Next to Dwight Howard, Bynum is probably the second-best center in the league, and his footwork is better than Howard's.
He's also probably the best center the Sixers have had on their roster since Moses Malone.
We haven't seen many tears shed for the loss of long-time player Andre Iguodala, who seemed to have "Trade Me" stamped on his forehead basically from his arrival here. Iggy just never clicked with the fan base. Bynum, meanwhile, has already eaten some cheesesteaks.
For the Sixers, getting Bynum (even as a one-year rental) puts the franchise in the spotlight. It also might make the team the second-best in the East, behind the NBA champion Miami Heat.
Their emerging young base of talent includes Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner, Thaddeus Young, Spencer Hawes, and Lavoy Allen. Added to that are newcomers Dorell Wright, Nick Young, Kwame Brown, and Jason Richardson as well as rookie Arnett Moultrie.
The Sixers should be a force to be reckoned with, but will Bynum become a shining star, to be numbered among the ranks of Dr. J, Wilt, Moses, Mo, A.I., Chocolate Thunder and Sir Charles?
If he rises to the challenge, maybe the Sixers will rise with him to once again become champions.