The Bynum-Yao Debate Extended

7 08 2008
How high can you fly?

How high can you fly?

In response to the debate going over at Khandor’s regarding whether Phil Jackson would take Yao Ming or Andrew Bynum, the following is my response:

Essentially, the argument is “As a center in the NBA, at 20 years of age, Andrew Bynum is superior to Yao Ming in every statistical category with the following career averages:

At 20 years of age
Bynum: 163 games played | 78 games started | 7.2 points | 57.1% FG | 5.6 rebounds| 1.3 blocks
Yao: N/A

At 22-27 years of age
Bynum: N/A
Yao: 5-time All-Star | 404 games played | 394 games started | 19.0 points | 52.0% FG | 9.2 rebounds | 1.8 blocks”

Since Bynum has shown a higher “rate of progress” in his first three seasons — ie. 1.6 points per game to 13.1 points — it is reasonable to expect Bynum to surpass Yao. 

I mean, Bynum is scoring 13 points and grabbing 10 boards at 20 years old.  Yao, at 22, was only scoring 13.5 points and grabbing 8 boards.  Clearly, we can ordain a promising big man that posts a 13 and 10 average in 35 games (which is exactly 42% of a full regular season). 

Similarly, I will make the argument that Stephen Curry is greater than Kobe Bryant.  Allow me…

In the NCAA
Stephen Curry
[2005-2006] DNP
[2006-2007] 30.9 minutes | 21.5 points | 46.3% FG | 40.8% 3PT | 4.6 rebounds | 2.8 assists
[2007-2008] 33.1 minutes | 26.9 points | 48.3% FG | 43.9% 3PT | 4.6 rebounds | 2.9 assists

Kobe Bryant: N/A

In the NBA
Curry: N/A
Bryant: 866 regular season games | 718 games started | 25.0 points | 5.3 rebounds | 4.6 assists

Since Curry has shown a higher “rate of progress” in his first three seasons of amateur play — ie. 0.0 points per game to 26.9 points, even with the necessary NCAA-to-NBA conversion rate — it is reasonable to expect Curry to surpass Bryant.

I mean, Curry is already scoring 20 points per game.  At the same age, Bryant was scoring only 7.6 and 15.4 in the NBA.  Bryant didn’t even play in the NCAA.  Clearly, we can ordain a promising little guy that posts 26 points against a different kind of competition, in a vastly different role within a relatively small sample frame.

Can’t we?





8 responses

7 08 2008

Haha, this is great. Totally terrific.

Obviously you can’t just compare people, no matter who they are, without some kind of longer term basis of comparability.

As a side note, I’m hoping to go up to Davidson and check out Curry in person, as my uncle works there and can get me some inside access…

7 08 2008


Yao and Bynum have both put up their respective numbers in the same League, for the purpose of comparison.

Attempting to extrapolate a Curry/Bryant, in the NCAA, and relate it somehow to a Yao & Bynum evaluation falls flat as a similar analogy since both participants have yet to play in the same League. 🙂

However, I do give out part marks for effort. 8)

7 08 2008


What you could have said though … using Bryant & Curry … might have been something like this:

Given Curry’s production levels in high school, and his Rate of Progress there, and THEN his production levels in the NCAA … if Kobe Bryant had deigned to go the NCAA D1 route, following his time in high school AND given his production levels, at that stage of his life, and his Rate of Progress there … it is reasonable to expect that KOBE BRYANT would have been able to put up BETTER pruction numbers IN THE NCAA than has Master Curry thus far.

Still … and, always … part marks are better than none. 🙂

7 08 2008


Haha, I know. I made the comparison due to my inability to see the Yao/Bynum evaluation from the other side. And because I’m a sarcastic bastard but you’ve figured that out by now.

I made the NCAA-NBA comparison to mirror and exaggerate the fact that Bynum played most of his minutes against 2nd-tier, bench players while Yao played them against starters with game plans specifically focused at stopping and denying him.

There is definitely a comparison there in regards to Yao/Bynum but everything Curry/Bryant was meant to exaggerate it.

I’m still struggling with why the chance of Bynum blowing up is enough to dissuade the risk of him being a bust…

7 08 2008

Regarding your second comment, please know that the comparison was satirical and clearly was not supposed to be linear. Linear as a bee circa Muhammad Ali.

7 08 2008


Q1. What makes Bynum unlikely to be a bust?

A1. In general, busts DO NOT demonstrate the degree of improvement in production Andrew has shown from Yr-1 to Yr-2 and Yr-3 while playing in the best league in the world as an 18, 19 and 20 year old.

Consider that the numbers Bynum put up last season … during limited play versus the 2nd line scrubs you’re describing [which belies the fact that he started 25 of 35 games played last year; did 25 of the Lakers opponents start their back-up Center when they saw AB lining up for the jumpball to begin the game?] … were amassed 2 FULL YEARS in development ahead of Yao Ming [who played his 1st season in the NBA at 22 years of age].

When Kobe criticized the Lakers’ management team [and indirectly/directly? AB] last summer, Baby Huey could quite easily have retreated into a shell [ala Franklin the Turtle] broad-sided by this type of stinging criticism from a teammate.

Instead, how did the Big Fella respond?

According to all reports, (i) AB worked his butt off last summer to PROVE Kobe wrong and justify the faith the Lakers’ brass had shown in him all along by refusing to include him in a proposed trade for Jason Kidd during the 2006-2007 season; and, then, played those first 35 games of the 2007-2008 season as though he was on-course to develop into the type of Centre who will rival Greg Oden for the next 15 plus years, as arguably the best Center in the Western Conference [if not the entire NBA], including such current luminaries as Shaq, Duncan, Yao, and Amare].

This is not the way a ‘bust’ conducts himself.

This is the way a stalwart conducts himself.

As always … just my 2 cents worth. 8)

8 08 2008

This is not the way a ‘bust’ conducts himself. This is the way a stalwart conducts himself.”

Essentially, my assertion through this post, which you didn’t seem to pick up on, was summed up by MAO quite nicely in the first comment.

But since this is all for fun anyway, let me give this another whirl in another direction so I can shed more light on my perspective…

Consider that the numbers Bynum put up last season were amassed 2 FULL YEARS in development ahead of Yao Ming.

I can understand that most people see a trend: Bynum is getting better. But, as I said on your site, if you stack them against each other, you’re still arguing for what should happen versus what is happening. The perspective is still addled by potential and a projection of production. This is another conversation entirely but I think it’s clear that this type of thinking is what plagues basketball, and sports in general, from the AAU level up to the early professional stage.

But I guess you said it best when you said you give marks for effort. 🙂

If you think that as of this moment, Yao is a better player than Bynum, let’s play a little game. If not, disregard the rest of the comment because we will be arguing pure opinions rather than the logistics of a projection.

Take a look at Rashard Lewis’ statistics from his first three years in the league (ages 19-21):

[1998-99] 20 games | 7.3 minutes | 2.4 points | 1.3 rebounds | 36.5% FG | 16.7% 3PT | 57.1% FT | 0.2 assists| 0.4 steals | 0.1 blocks

[1999-00] 82 games | 19.2 minutes | 8.2 points | 4.1 rebounds | 48.6% FG | 33.3% 3PT | 68.3% FT | 0.9 assists | 0.8 steals | 0.4 blocks

[2000-01] 78 games | 34.9 minutes | 14.8 points | 6.9 rebounds | 48.0% FG | 43.2% 3PT | 82.6% FT | 1.6 assists | 1.2 steals | 0.6 blocks

Vince Carter, in relation, was coming off a 27.6 point, 46.0% FG, 5.5 rebound, 3.9 assist season in 2000-01. Now since Lewis already has a higher rebounding average and field goal percentage than Carter, who would you take at that moment?

Please note that Lewis posted this all at an age one year and half before Carter would even enter the league.

As a microcosm, Lewis attempted 11.4 FGs a game that year. Carter attempted 22.1 FGs. Is it clear that Lewis would average 29.6 points (twice as much as his actual average) if given the same opportunity as Carter?

Well, hot damn, everything else will go up with time too. His rebounding will get better; his steals will get better, his assists will increase. The ceiling on high school players is but an archaic notion from muddled conservative minds! They’re too concerned with what’s going on now than to properly parlay future credit where future credit is due.

Let’s not forget that the anecdotal evidence was for Lewis at that time: this guy was supposed to be what Glen Robinson was supposed to be and more. He was so young! He could have easily burnt under the pressure of Gary Payton and Vin Baker (no pun intended) but he didn’t. He responded in quite a fashion.

In summary, and jest, what I’m saying is that 163 games watching a kid is not enough to ordain him. Considering that in 128 of those games, he was nothing but a marginally-pleasing decoration to hide the “bust” of Kwame Brown.

8 08 2008

To be crystal-clear: I’m not arguing that he’ll bust. I’m arguing that we just don’t know.

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