Los Angeles Lakers: What If Andrew Bynum Was Still on This Team?

Todd PheiferAnalyst IIIDecember 26, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 25:  Dwight Howard #12 of the Los Angeles Lakers blocks a lay up shot attempt by Raymond Felton #2 of the New York Knicks as Tyson Chandler #6 of the New York Knicks looks on in the second half during the NBA game at Staples Center on December 25, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. The Lakers defeated the Knicks 100-94. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers have had their share of problems this season. However, it could be worse.

They could still have Andrew Bynum at center.

Bynum left the building long ago, so this “what if” scenario is obviously just for the sake of conversation. Howard is here and the Lakers are doing their best to create a new identity as a team.

Still, can you imagine where the Lakers would be if Bynum had not been traded and he was now on the injured reserve list in Los Angeles?

How about a Lakers team with no point guard for an extended period of time and no center for an indeterminate time? How many shots would Kobe Bryant be taking per game then?

It is interesting to look back at all the drama that surrounded Dwight Howard last season as the NBA world speculated on where he would eventually land.

There have certainly been a few complaints about Howard, particularly in relation to his free throws. Granted, those are improving.

However, consider that Howard has played in every game during the 2012-13 season. He is averaging almost 18 points and 12 rebounds per game. Throw in a couple of blocks per game, and you have all the stats of a franchise center.

The Lakers may not be in the upper echelon of NBA franchises this year, but the potential for success remains if this squad can stay healthy.

What has Andrew Bynum contributed to the Philadelphia 76ers this year?

Points...zero. Rebounds...zero. Games played...wait for it...zero!

Say what you want about Dwight Howard, but the Lakers clearly got the better end of this deal, at least so far. I do not think there are a lot of Lakers fans that are missing Bynum right now.

I know the fact that Bynum hurt himself while bowling is old news (via ESPN.com), but that is still a story that is hard to digest. How does a guy hurt himself bowling?

Is Bynum participating in a version of bowling that I am unfamiliar with? I do not remember this being a violent contact sport.

It is hard to fathom how that story would play in Los Angeles if Dwight hurt himself bowling.

Do you think that Bynum is wishing he would have negotiated an extension with the Lakers last year?

You wonder if teams got lulled into a false sense of potential health last year when Bynum was actually able to stay on the floor. After all, Bynum missed 124 games over a four-season span from 2007 to 2011.

In other words, this injury situation should not be a shock.

Granted, teams have to take a gamble sometimes, and Bynum has enough talent that plenty of teams are going to be willing to take a chance on benefiting from his production.

The reality is that Bynum may play very little for Philadelphia this season, and he may enter the free-agent market with a very sketchy health record.

What would be ironic is if Bynum actually ended up back with the Lakers next season.

This may seem like a stretch, but think about the possible circumstances. It would make sense for Dwight Howard to re-sign with the Lakers and make Los Angeles home for the rest of his career.

However, what if he walks away and decides that he would rather not play in the City of Angels?

Suddenly the Lakers would need a center. Would Jim Buss pick up the phone and call Andrew Bynum's agent? Stranger things have happened.

Such happenings are a long way off, but it is still interesting to ponder how things have unfolded for these two centers.

Perhaps Laker Nation should be thankful for this record. It could have been worse.