What is the No. 1 thing Will Bynum can step up to do to help the Pistons make the playoffs?
Provide a spark from outside the rotation
Bynum will likely begin the season in the rotation with Rodney Stuckey out, but if every guard hits his upside, Bynum should be pushed out. It’s far from guaranteed that will happen, but it would bode well for the Pistons’ playoff chances. Besides, Bynum can best serve the team as a non-rotation player. Bynum plays the same way all the time: full throttle. Deploy him when the Pistons trail big late, and he at least increases variance. If he’s driving to score and set up teammates, perhaps a comeback is possible. If he’s turning the ball over and missing jumpers, oh well. A loss was likely, anyway.
Keep playing like he’s fighting for a contract
I’m admittedly the self-appointed president of the Will Bynum fan club. The draw of Bynum, for me, has always been how he often plays like he’s trying to prove himself on a 10-day contract rather than enjoying his third NBA contract. I find that fascinating – it’s probably a byproduct of how hard he’s had to fight just to have a NBA career in the first place. But now? The team wanted him back, even with other guard options, and re-signed him, which was a mild surprise. His coach, Maurice Cheeks, is a fellow Chicagoan who seems to connect with him. And the player he complements most on the team just so happens to be Andre Drummond, one of the most exciting young players in the league and, the Pistons hope, their franchise center for the next decade or more. I’m very curious how Bynum performs with, seemingly, a secure role for the first time in his Pistons career.
Last year, Bynum played like a superstar one game, and a D-Leaguer the next game. This season, he’ll see his minutes cut a little bit due to Stuckey and Billups getting time with starter Brandon Jennings. The key for Bynum this season is to just make sure that he plays like a serviceable bench player in his time on the floor. He doesn’t have to play like he did last year when he dropped 31 points against the Hawks in December, but he also shouldn’t play as poorly as his 2-for-9, five-point performance against Charlotte in January. He must find a happy medium.
Wait for his opportunity
There really isn’t a defined role for Bynum right now, but as the season progresses he’ll emerge. There are plenty of reasons why he’s not the perfect player, but if he’s used correctly as a change-of-pace guard, he’s a valuable piece. Plus, let’s just get this out of the way now: As great as it is that Chauncey Billups is back in Detroit, he’s not going to stay healthy for all 82 games this season.
- Brady Fredericksen