Internal Improvement: Will Bynum

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Tom Gores said it better happenJonas Jerebko guaranteed itRodney Stuckey agreed.

The Detroit Pistons can certainly make the playoffs this season, but given how similar the team is to last year’s, it won’t be easy. It appears the Pistons are mostly relying on internal improvement in order to exceed expectations and reach the postseason.

For our 2012 preview series, Patrick and I will each examine one area where we see realistic room for improvement from each Piston. Today, we look at Will Bynum.

Bringing his offensive mentality to defense

I love the way Will Bynum plays. He has a chip on his shoulder that few can match, and it shows every time he touches the ball. Bynum relentlessly and fearlessly drives to the rim again and again.

Sometimes, I just want to tell Bynum, “Ease up a bit. You’ve made it.” He’s played 232 NBA games in five seasons, and he’s entering this year with a guaranteed, $3.5 million contract. But Bynum keeps that chip, and that’s what I like so much about him.

Unfortunately, Bynum doesn’t play with that same tenacity on defense. Sure, he’s capable of being a ballhawk when when the spotlight is on him – though I’d actually like to see him pressure the ball more often – but the real issue comes off the ball.

Bynum is terrible at fighting through off-ball screens, and that is enough to make him a pretty bad defender and keep on the bench for long stretches. With his size limitations, Bynum will never be a great defender, but if he took the same attitude on that end as he takes on offense, he could at least hold his own. — D.F.

Just be healthy

After spending a couple seasons as one of Detroit’s more underappreciated players, Bynum’s production took a nosedive last season. As a player, Bynum kind of is what he is at this point. At his best, he’s an energetic, relentless scorer off the bench who can put immense pressure on a defense for stretches with his speed and ability to finish. He can pass, but it’s clearly his second option on offense, and his size makes him a liability defensively, though his quickness does make him disruptive in passing lanes or on the ball when he wants to be. At his worst, he can be turnover prone and struggles if the game isn’t moving at warp speed. His main problem last season seemed to be that he was never fully healthy, not to mention that he was in and out of the rotation. Bynum is getting older and his athleticism is bound to regress some as he ages, but with as hard as he’s worked just to have a NBA career, I hope his body fully heals this offseason and he gets back to being the dynamic change of pace guard that made him a fan favorite during some dark years for the Pistons. His future might not be in Detroit, but a healthy Bynum can definitely help a number of teams. — P.H.

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