The NBA's most infamous risk factor in Andrew Bynum isn't necessarily the main reason I have the Cleveland Cavaliers this high on my list, but he is a factor. Despite the fact that Bynum has yet to see the floor since his 2011-2012 season with the Lakers, (18.7 PPG, 11.8 RPG in that season) Cavaliers general manager Chris Grant recognizes the potential impact Bynum's size and experience can have, wait for it, if he's able to be on the floor. Bynum signed a two-year deal with Cleveland worth $24.5 million, with only half of the first season's $12 million guaranteed and an option on the second year. He is not expected to be ready for the start of the season.
What I think is beautifully strategic about acquiring Bynum is the Cavaliers' no. 1 overall draft pick of Anthony Bennett. Though Bennett possesses the skill set and body frame more of a stretch-4 than a center, Cleveland will have Anderson Varejao back, who led the league with 14.4 rebounds per game last season before a knee injury that sidelined the Brazilian center for 57 games. Head coach Mike Brown and Varejao have player-coach chemistry from the LeBron years, and now Bynum becomes less of a necessity and more of a luxury. I look at the addition of point guard Jarrett Jack, who was pivotal to the Golden State Warriors' postseason success, as added experience and depth to an already emerging back court of Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters. I also look at the signing of forward Earl Clark, who I feel proved himself to be an underrated glue guy and productive "tweener" with the Lakers last season. If healthy, reasonable minutes from Bynum can make this team formidable in the front court with Clark, Varejao, Tristan Thompson, and a progressing Anthony Bennett. Add Jack to that back court with Irving and Waiters, and this team is geared to compete for a bottom-half playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
- Martin S. @marley_mcfly