Magic Johnson has watched Andrew Bynum play a lot of basketball during his years with the Los Angeles Lakers. Johnson, former Lakers star and Hall of Famer, knows that the Sixers biggest offseason acquisition will play a major part in how far the team goes this season.
Of course, Bynum has missed the entire preseason with right knee pain from a bone bruise. The 7-foot, 285-pound center, could miss the season opener on Oct. 31 against the Denver Nuggets at the Wells Fargo Center. Nevertheless, Johnson seems to be pretty knowledgeable about his basketball skills.
“Well, the good thing is I don’t have doubts in his ability,” said Johnson, a basketball analyst for ESPN’s NBA Countdown. “I’ve seen Andrew dominate. I saw the game against San Antonio where he went and grabbed 30 rebounds. Andrew Bynum is our – right with Dwight Howard, talented –second talented most big man in the game today. And offensively he probably got—he’s got more moves than Dwight Howard. Andrew Bynum can play basketball.
“The problem with Andrew is when he gets down or when he has a confrontation with a coach or if he’s not feeling good about a teammate, then he lets that come to the court instead of leaving that in the locker room. He then goes out and gets five rebounds or he plays and is 10 and 5 or he pouts, and it not only hurts his teammates. So is he mature enough to handle the fact that now it is his team, he is the man. When it’s not going good, will he still come and play 150 percent?
“And then last but not least, will he be able to make his teammates better, because Andrew Bynum got all the talent in the world, and when he wants to dominate, he dominates; we’ve seen that. Shoot, every year he goes through a stretch of about I would say 10 to 15 games where he just dominates the league. I mean, it’s unbelievable the numbers that he puts up.
“But then after he reverts back to a guy we scratch our head about. So I’m just hoping that he just plays for 82 games, also stays healthy for 82 games, too, because he hasn’t been healthy every season that we’ve had him here in LA. But when he comes to play, he can play.”
Johnson is impressed with the Sixers offseason moves. He also likes Sixers guard Jrue Holiday and believes shooting guard Evan Turner should be more relaxed this season.
“Now, I think they did a wonderful job because Jason Richardson has been on fire,” Johnson said. “I’ve seen him three times in exhibition, and I think he’s going to be great. Jrue Holiday is just an incredible point guard who’s getting better and better every season. I thought the addition of Nick Young, Dorell Wright, shooters, so when Bynum is in there you can put a lot of great shooters around him.
“And so I think that Evan Turner now will have less pressure on him. It looked like he was forcing — he was trying to be a high draft pick instead of just relaxing and playing basketball, he was pressuring and he was playing under pressure.”
Johnson feels Doug Collins, Sixers head coach, will have to work with Bynum. He also believes Collins brings a lot of qualities, which should make the Sixers an even better team.
“Doug Collins, who I love and respect, is a great coach,” Johnson said. “And Bynum and Collins got to get on the same page. That’s another thing that has to happen for them to really excel.
“But I’m excited about the team. Athletic-wise they’re off the charts. They’re going to play defense because Doug Collins is about defense, and they’re going to play together, and so that’s — I see great things for them now but also in the future.”