Monday, January 14, 2008

Andrew Bynum Out 8 Weeks - How Much Can Kwame Brown Help You Now?

It was learned today that Andrew Bynum will miss the next eight weeks with a knee injury suffered last night when the young center stepped on teammate Lamar Odom's foot after coming down with a rebound. Bynum has a history of knee problems dating back to his high school days, so you can bet the Lakers will monitor his condition closely and wont rush to get him back in the lineup.

The Bynum injury is unfortunate as it comes on the heels of a breakout season for the 20 year-old big man. Despite averaging only 28 minutes a night, Bynum is putting up a double-double (13.1 points and 10.2 rebounds) while blocking 2 shots a game. Bynum has been especially good lately. In his last 5 games (not counting last night's game) Bynum had thrown up 3 double-doubles and was averaging a staggering 18.8 points 12.8 rebounds and 3 blocks a contest.

Now that Bynum is out for an extended period of time, fantasy owners (like myself) will be scrambling to make up for his loss. As far as an internal solution is concerned, with Chris Mihm scheduled to miss 3-4 weeks with a sore heel, Kwame Brown becomes the Lakers' starting center by default.

Brown has underachieved mightily since arriving in Lakerland as the centerpiece of the Caron Butler trade. While Butler has gone on to become an all-star forward for the Wizards, Brown had been averaging about 8 points and 6 rebounds a game in 27 minutes his first two seasons in LA.

With the emergence of Bynum, Brown has been relegated to the bench and seen his playing time and numbers drop significantly. Currently, Brown is averaging about 5 points and 5 rebounds a game in 20 minutes of play. If he is given 30 plus minutes a night, a good possibility given the team's lack of options, he is a candidate to give you around 8-10 points and rebounds with one block.

Overall, Brown is a pretty good add in deeper leagues and should provide serviceable big man numbers - especially this week as the Lakers face three weak defensive squads in Seattle, Phoenix and Denver. However, my major reservation going forward stems from Phil Jackson's lack of confidence in him.

With guys like Ronny Turiaf and Luke Walton on the roster, two guys that fit in well to his triangle offense, the Lakers may choose to go small more often with a front court of Turiaf, Odom and Walton. This could take away from Brown's playing time as he will need the aforementioned 30 plus minutes to be a factor in fantasy. Keep an eye on Jackson's lineups and substitution patterns over the next few weeks when attempting to gauge Brown's value.

Check back tomorrow as I run down my list of five add-worthy Centers & Forwards that are currently flying under the radar.

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