Former Lakers center Andrew Bynum was often compared to Dwight Howard.… ( Los Angeles Times )
When it came down to evaluating whether the Lakers would trade Andrew Bynum for Dwight Howard, the Lakers front office held a fairly simple criteria on why they pulled the trigger.
"We got the best," Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak said at the time.
Yet, if you're to listen to Sixers small forward Dorell Wright talk about the new Sixers center, perhaps the Lakers should've pulled a mulligan and remained status quo.
"He's going to need two defenders to stop him; I would say he's the best big man in the NBA right now, hands down," Wright told the Phiadelphia Inquirer's John Mitchell. "He's a guy that can give you baskets with his back to the basket; a guy who makes free throws at 7-feet. You've just got to respect him."
On behalf of probably every NBA executive, Mitchell wrote he told Wright that Howard remains the better center. Howard finished last season better than Bynum in points (20.6, 16.7), rebounds (14.5, 11.8) and blocked shots (2.15, 1.93). According to Synergy Sports Technology, Howard fared better than Bynum in isolation plays (Howard 25th; Bynum 75th) and on spot-up shots (Howard 46th; Bynum 86th). He posted these numbers without the supporting cast Bynum enjoyed. Heck, Wright even personally witnessed Bynum shooting that famous three-pointer when Wright played last season for Golden State.
But Wright wouldn't have any of it. His reasons for electing Bynum over Howard go beyond the uncertainty on how long it will take Howard to rehab his back after surgery.
"I’d say it any day," Wright said. "It’s because I know he can put his back to the basket and give us a basket and request a double team and make free throws. It’s his all-around game. Hopefully he can stay healthy and we can ride, he can put us on his back and he can take us as far as we can go."
Wright's likely following the unwritten code professional athletes have in touting up their own teammates. The Sixers rightfully feel giddy over Bynum instantly becoming a franchise player. Yet for an organization that often coddled him, Kobe Bryant and Mike Brown never tried to pretend Bynum was better than Howard when he wore the purple and gold.
And that's why the Lakers are giddy now. They now have the best center, no questions asked.
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