The Treatment of Oden vs. Bynum

10 02 2009

The phrase “injury-prone” is completely subjective when comparing Greg Oden and Andrew Bynum.

Greg Oden’s major injuries

  • June 2006 – surgery for torn ligaments in right wrist
  • Sept 2007 – surgery on right knee

Andrew Bynum’s major injuries

  • May 2008 – surgery on left knee
  • January 2009 – current right knee injury

Supposedly, Bynum’s newest injury won’t require an operation.  However, after he injured his left knee in January 2008, the team doctors stated in mid-March 2008 that he’d be “a couple, three weeks before he’s doing some things on the court.”  I guess they meant he’d be in street clothes because they waxed optimistic until Phil Jackson kept it real in mid-April.  That May, Bynum went under the knife two months after the “doing some things on the court” statement.

Is history repeating itself?  Phil Jackson said, “if it’s not an operation… we have to be pleased with it.”

The LA Times comes to the rescue, stating that “the latest injury to Andrew Bynum probably has more to do with bad karma than inherently bad knees, medical experts say.”  They report that Bynum’s two knee injuries “are unrelated… and don’t foreshadow a career punctuated by knee problems.”

And then they contradict themselves here:

Bynum will not walk away from back-to-back knee injuries completely unscathed, however. His kneecap injury suggests that he is a bit loose-jointed. And both knees probably will be sensitive to contact injuries in the future, DiNubile said.

Good thing basketball isn’t a contact sport.  Oh, wait…

What’s interesting is how Greg Oden’s injuries have been treated in relation to Bynum’s.  Although an SI article points out after Oden’s surgery:

What makes all of this complicated — as anyone with a serious medical issue will attest — is that different doctors will have different opinions. Provide the 30 NBA franchises with the same MRIs and medical results, and their team doctors will arrive at a variety of diagnoses and predictions.

And yet Oden has been called the “glass man” or “as brittle as a saltine cracker.”  People called this kid everything but a leper.

The beat down got to a point where JA Adande wrote that Oden “complained of fatigue after making the news conference-talk show-promotional appearance-ESPY rounds in the weeks after the NBA draft. Now, after a college season of 32 games (50 fewer than in the NBA regular season), he has a serious knee injury.” 

Ever heard of fatigue?  You know, like maybe when a 19-year-old kid travels from suburban Indiana and gets thrust into the national media spotlight.  Apparently, multiple television appearances and a cross-country trip are sure-tell risk factors for major knee injury.  Hurry, someone should warn Suri Cruise.  She could be next…

It seems as though the label “injury-prone” is more for those with selective labelling skills.  When one article is named “Oden following in footsteps of misfortune in Portland,” and another is “Andrew Bynum’s injuries probably just bad luck,” you’ve got to scratch your head for a second. 

It must be noted that Oden is the top pick of a more recent draft.  There is definitely an expectation of immediate results from a #1 draft pick as opposed to #10, where Bynum was taken in 2005. 

High school players — even those drafted in the lottery — generally garner more patience than collegiate players.  There’s definitely an expectation that former NCAA players are more polished than their high school counterparts.  So expecting more production from Oden at a much faster rate is certainly normal for the public.  However, it should be noted that Oden had spent only one more year playing collegiately than Bynum did.

Oden and Bynum have suffered arguably the same amount of injuries.  Both have great potential, they’re three months apart in age and yet criticism of Greg Oden, by far, outweighs that of his NBA colleague.

Once again, consistency matters.

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?