With the first two weeks of NBA action in the record books, we’ve all been introduced to new stars, players debuting in new uniforms, and veterans picking up where they left off. We’ve also seen players return. We’ve seen Derrick Rose return from a season off due to injury, but also we’ve seen relocated players face off against old teams.
The focus will be on the marquee players in the massive four team trade in 2012 that sent Dwight Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers, Andrew Bynum to the Philadelphia 76ers, and Andre Igoudala to the Denver Nuggets.
The most ironic aspect of that trade is that not a single one of those players mentioned plays for any of those teams anymore. Dwight Howard is a Houston Rocket, Andrew Bynum is a Cleveland Cavalier and Andre Igoudala is a Golden State Warrior.
Each of these players has played one of his former teams so far and here are the results:
Dwight Howard hosted his former Lakers in a losing effort, thanks to a game winning three pointer by Steve Blake. Dwight Howard posted 15 points and 14 rebounds, but the more telling stat was his 5 for 16 performance from the free throw line. Howard has never been stellar from the line and his former teammates took full advantage of that as he missed 5 of 6 free throws in the closing minutes of the game. There were even comical moments when Howard would run around trying to avoid the inevitable fouls. The “Hack-a-Dwight” method proved fruitful as it helped the Lakers get in position to hit the game winner, courtesy of Steve Blake.
Andre Igoudala visited his former 76ers and dominated. Once criticized for his inability to shoot, Igoudala torched the Sixers with seven made three pointers (out of 11 attempted), finishing with 35 points in his homecoming. Igoudala had a very solid tenure with Philadelphia, building himself into a household name, despite playing in one of, if not the worst, eras in Sixers history. He helped the Denver Nuggets reach the playoffs last season, but instead decided his future would be more fruitful in Golden State. So far this season, he’s averaging 14.5 ppg and 5 apg, while shooting 57% from the field, on a 4-2 Golden State team that leads the Pacific Division. If healthy, this Golden State team can match or even improve upon their 47-35 record from last season.
Andrew Bynum also made a return to Philadelphia, a return in which he was showered with boos. In a limited appearance, Bynum had four points and five rebounds. Despite being a Philadelphia 76er last season, this was the first time Bynum had played in Philadelphia since wearing yellow and purple. Understandably, the crowd wasn’t too happy to see him, but they didn’t have to see him much. Only time will tell how the rest of Bynum’s career will play out, but he’s struggling significantly going so far as to say he’s “a shell of himself.” There have even been talks of him retiring, so his future is uncertain at this point. As of now, he’s doing whatever he can to contribute to his Cavs’ success, which has been minimal thus far.
Going forward, I expect Howard to begin to mesh with his Rockets and have no issues with the Kobe-less Lakers, assuming Kobe’s injury keeps him out long term and eventually when he plays the Orlando Magic, I expect that the Rockets will have the edge. Golden State looks to be on pace to be a successful playoff team again so I believe they’ll be able to defeat the young Sixers again, but the interesting matchup will be against the Denver Nuggets in the West. As for the Cavaliers, they haven’t show much promise as Bynum still struggles with injury and rookie Anthony Bennett continues to struggle and is now injured also. How will Bynum fare against the Sixers and Lakers? The Sixers have decided they don’t want to tank their season, at least not at this point, so in both teams’ current state, I’d predict the Sixers would sweep the Cavaliers. The Lakers, also struggling, may split with Cleveland as they search for a new identity this season.