Miami, Chicago, then Philadelphia. Those are my top-three teams in the Eastern Conference right now. By right now I mean on paper. We certainly have not played a game yet, and I do realize that Indiana might disagree this statement. But I am going to make it anyway.
What made the Indiana Pacers so successful last season -- at least an All Star part of that equation - was the fact that they did roll out a difference-making true center in Roy Hibbert. When healthy, Andrew Bynum is better than Roy Hibbert. We can pick apart that "when healthy" line, but I am not sure anybody would argue the contrary with respect to Roy and Andrew.
Miami is still light years ahead of the Philadelphia 76ers. I am not saying they could win the Eastern Conference at all, but I do think they went from the eighth spot to possibly earning the third seed during the 2013 Playoffs. If Derrick Rose is back to 100 percent by then, the Bulls -- while not quite light years -- are still markedly better than Philly.
For now though, Sixers fans should feel good about where they are sitting. Their newest 7-foot All Star appears to be pretty happy with the move too. Signs of things to come maybe, who knows. The following is from Sam Amick, via his Sullia Account:
Andrew Bynum, a New Jersey native, is clearly happy with this move to Philly. On his reaction when he heard of the trade from the Lakers: "I just thought I was coming home, man. I was super excited. I thought it was time for a change, to be honest. I'm here now, and I'm loving the city. I've been here for two days, and everybody's been great to me. I had an opportunity to go to some nice restaurants and things like that, so I'm really enjoying it."
Bynum also went the mature route in response to being dissed by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, which is encouraging as well I think:
Last Bynum/Sixers dispatch. When asked about a comment from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar indicating Bynum lacked focus in his time with the Lakers, Bynum says, "I don't know. I was definitely focused. I worked with Kareem for, I believe, my first two or three years. Later on, it became more of sort of a mentor (role). He would just give me little tips here or there. I wasn't able to master the sky hook, but outside of that he showed me a lot of great things. Footwork, rebounding, how to cut the lane off. Just a bunch a things. I learned a lot from him and I enjoyed my time with him."
Evan Turner, Jrue Holiday, Thaddeus Young, Spencer Hawes, Nick Young, Jason Richardson, Dorrell Wright, Andrew Bynum, maybe Arnett Moultrie -- this is a decent young core. If Doug Collins can fit all these pieces together, it certainly could be better than decent. Bynum being the biggest reason why.
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