Indiana Pacers head coach Frank Vogel said that Andrew Bynum is basically a mirror image of Roy Hibbert. He also said that Bynum is still “weeks away” from actually playing basketball for the Indiana Pacers.
Guess which statement I’m not surprised by?
Technically, Bynum hasn’t played in an NBA game since the day after Christmas. At that time, he was still a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Before that, he missed the entire 2012-13 season due to knee troubles. History isn’t on Bynum’s side. Which is probably why Vogel isn’t wanting to rush things with the big man.
“A few weeks,” Vogel said when asked about Bynum. “We’re not putting a firm timetable on it. Our trainers are doing some things to strengthen the area around his knees so when he becomes an everyday player, he’ll be there for us. The soreness he’s experienced in the last couple years is minimal and while we are doing that there is the process of getting him back in game shape because he had weeks off after leaving Cleveland.”
Apart from the injury concerns, there’s the whole not letting Bynum screw up the team’s great chemistry. Because, after all, the Pacers aren’t the most talented team standing alone. They’re their best when they are clicking as a group, together. Not individually.
And that’s something that Vogel is very aware about.
“We’ve got a plan and a scheme on both ends of the court with Roy Hibbert that fits his style of play,” Vogel said. “Once he gets healthy and in great condition, I think the transition is going to be fairly seamless. He’s going to fit in and we’ll use him the same way we use Roy.”
I’m sure the Pacers plan, when they decided to ink Bynum for the rest of the season, was to try and develop some kind of two-headed center monster of a team. Two 7-footers. One with the starters (Hibbert) and one with the second group (Bynum). That’s one heck of a plan. I mean, the biggest obstacle between the Pacers and an NBA Finals appearance is probably going to be the Miami Heat.
Their (arguably) biggest weakness happens to be size, and effective center play. In last year’s Eastern Conference Finals against the Heat, Hibbert averaged 22 points and 10 rebounds per game. If he can do that this season, combine that with what a potential Bynum could do with the second group and the Pacers might have the Heat’s kryptonite. Might.
That’s the plan — and it doesn’t sound like a bad one.
The only problem is, of course, is that the Pacers don’t have that much time. Indiana doesn’t need to rush Bynum along, but in a way they kind of do. The playoffs are coming and, soon enough, they to will just be “weeks away”.
Sooner or later, the Pacers are going to have to find out what they have in Bynum. And right now it kind of needs to happen sooner rather than later.