Friday, March 27, 2009

The Will Bynum Show Part II

The NBA is a weird place. Superstars are—and likely always be—a rare breed. It takes freakish physical attributes and skill-sets to dominate the “League.” However, to simply “make it” in the NBA seems to require almost as much luck as skill. Sure, every player in the league is a bona fide athletic phenom compared to the rest of us "wannabees." It just seems like you can find guys who can make it in the league in all sorts of crazy places. Just think about Will Bynum for a second. Bynum went undrafted following his collegiate careers at Arizona and Georgia Tech. He signed with Golden State and played 15 games. That was it. The league had taken a sniff and discarded him like the “Lost” monster. Bynum was off to Israel seemingly destined to begin a career as a professional basketball vagabond. When the Pistons signed him last summer to be the guy who never plays, he was just another former college player bouncing around the world looking for a way to get back. The NBA is ruled by superstars. The rest of the league is about building a niche or impressing the right person in the right NBA Summer League game. The latter is how Bynum earned a ticket back to the show.

The weird part about the whole thing, though, is that I can’t figure out how teams could miss on a player as penetratingly quick as Bynum in the first place. Last November, in my original “The Will Bynum Show” post, I commented on how impressive Bynum looked against the Charlotte Bobcats while the Pistons waited for the Billups-Iverson trade to be completed. He didn’t just “fit in”; he took over. There’s a difference. Michael Curry pretended like he didn’t notice but I know he did. How could he not? It’s not like his play was inconspicuously good. He ran the show. The league is littered with role players who couldn’t take over a game like that if given the opportunity. Still, Bynum went back to the end of the bench and stayed there for three months like nothing happened.

The injury bug hit the Pistons hardcore this month with Iverson and Rip Hamilton missing significant time in the backcourt alone. Given Bynum’s flash of brilliance from earlier in the season, it shouldn’t have surprised anyone—the least of which is Curry—when he stepped in with authority as if no time had passed since that game against the Bobcats last November. The first “Will Bynum Show” lasted one game. It was pretty much a Hollywood trailer. The second show has lasted seven games and counting. Unlike the first one that apparently earned him more valuable one-on-one time with Walter Herrmann at the end of the bench, this “show” is making him some serious bank. In seven games since his minutes significantly increased on March 15 against the Grizzlies, Bynum has averaged 17 points and five assists on 52% shooting. Garbage stats are pretty easy to come by in the NBA. Bynum, however, has put his impressive numbers up while boasting a +32. He single-handedly kept the Pistons in the game last night against the Lakers making an array of spectacular shots and passes. In a game in which the Pistons lost by 15, Bynum was a +10. Rodney Stuckey—playing nearly eight fewer minutes—was a -31. Despite the loss, Bynum ended the night with a brilliant effort that resulted in career highs in points (25) and assists (11). More importantly for Bynum, he opened some eyes. Tayshaun Prince summed things up after the game:

“We took Will Bynum out of the game and nobody else could do
anything,” Detroit’s Tayshaun Prince said. “He’s the reason we had the lead at
the half and the reason we made that comeback in the second quarter.

“Once he came out—end of the ballgame.” (Larry Lage, AP)

Bynum will get more opportunities to wait for injuries on the Pistons bench next season since he’s under contract for another year. However, the confidence he is picking up with each successive “blow by” is going to make him a commodity in 2010. In the meantime, I think it’s time Bynum gets a nickname. He has earned one with his per-minute production. I’ve got five ideas. 1). Willie B. in honor of Steamin’ Willie Beamen who—like Bynum—played a nomadic professional athlete turned playa' in Any Given Sunday. 2). Will “The Thrill” although I don’t think I feel comfortable stealing Will Clark’s nickname. 3). Will He Is in ode to Will I Am of the Black Eyed Peas. 4). Willie “Blow By”. 5). Or, we could just send a blatant message to Michael Curry with “Free Willie.” My vote is for #4 and a spot in the two-deep next season.

1 comment:

Tony said...

I can just hear Hubie saying "Curry is giving 'Blow By' a blow"


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