Bynum’s Health Holds Key to Lakers’ Repeat

There aren’t many things that could help the Los Angeles Lakers improve on their 2008-09 NBA championship season, but a healthy Andrew Bynum ranks near the top of that list.

Since being drafted 10th overall by the Lakers in 2005 and becoming the youngest player ever to appear in an NBA game at 18 later that year, Bynum has been plagued by chronic knee trouble. He suffered an injury to his left kneecap in 2007 that limited him to just 35 regular-season games and kept him out of the playoffs, and then a right knee injury in 2008, although he recovered in time to help the Lakers on their championship run this spring.

The 21-year-old Bynum spent most of this offseason working out in Atlanta, fueling speculation that he might be injured again. However, his agent, David Lee, dispelled those rumors, saying that “there aren’t any problems,” and Bynum will be back in Los Angeles well before the team’s training camp begins on Sept. 29.

Bynum appeared in 50 regular-season contests for the Lakers last season, averaging 14.3 points, eight rebounds, and 1.8 blocks in just under 29 minutes a game. His presence — in tandem with Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol — gives the Lakers one of the NBA’s most potent attacks, and at 7-feet, 275 pounds, Bynum is a defensive force in the paint.

If the young big man can stay healthy throughout the 2009-10 season and the playoffs, the Lakers will be a much better bet to repeat as NBA champions.

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