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Internal Improvement: Will Bynum

Tom Gores said it better happenJonas Jerebko guaranteed itRodney Stuckey agreed.

The Detroit Pistons can certainly make the playoffs this season, but given how similar the team is to last year’s, it won’t be easy. It appears the Pistons are mostly relying on internal improvement in order to exceed expectations and reach the postseason.

For our 2012 preview series, Patrick and I will each examine one area where we see realistic room for improvement from each Piston. Today, we look at Will Bynum.

Bringing his offensive mentality to defense

I love the way Will Bynum plays. He has a chip on his shoulder that few can match, and it shows every time he touches the ball. Bynum relentlessly and fearlessly drives to the rim again and again.

Sometimes, I just want to tell Bynum, “Ease up a bit. You’ve made it.” He’s played 232 NBA games in five seasons, and he’s entering this year with a guaranteed, $3.5 million contract. But Bynum keeps that chip, and that’s what I like so much about him.

Unfortunately, Bynum doesn’t play with that same tenacity on defense. Sure, he’s capable of being a ballhawk when when the spotlight is on him – though I’d actually like to see him pressure the ball more often – but the real issue comes off the ball.

Bynum is terrible at fighting through off-ball screens, and that is enough to make him a pretty bad defender and keep on the bench for long stretches. With his size limitations, Bynum will never be a great defender, but if he took the same attitude on that end as he takes on offense, he could at least hold his own. — D.F.

Just be healthy

After spending a couple seasons as one of Detroit’s more underappreciated players, Bynum’s production took a nosedive last season. As a player, Bynum kind of is what he is at this point. At his best, he’s an energetic, relentless scorer off the bench who can put immense pressure on a defense for stretches with his speed and ability to finish. He can pass, but it’s clearly his second option on offense, and his size makes him a liability defensively, though his quickness does make him disruptive in passing lanes or on the ball when he wants to be. At his worst, he can be turnover prone and struggles if the game isn’t moving at warp speed. His main problem last season seemed to be that he was never fully healthy, not to mention that he was in and out of the rotation. Bynum is getting older and his athleticism is bound to regress some as he ages, but with as hard as he’s worked just to have a NBA career, I hope his body fully heals this offseason and he gets back to being the dynamic change of pace guard that made him a fan favorite during some dark years for the Pistons. His future might not be in Detroit, but a healthy Bynum can definitely help a number of teams. — P.H.




  • Oct 10, 201212:32 am
    by City of Klompton


    I, personally, am concerned about Bynum this season after reading earlier on PistonPowered that one of the main things he worked on this offseason was a new dunk.  A new dunk?  Really?  How is this supposed to really excite me?  Simply put, dude is short.  The simple fact that he can throw down over near 7 footers during an NBA game is impressive enough.  Work on other facets of your game (such as defense) and maybe you won’t be stuck on the end of the bench for long stretches.


    • Oct 10, 20129:57 am
      by Patrick Hayes


      In fairness, here is what he said:

      New dunk :). Defensively will be better & jump shot is better

      The ‘new dunk’ part was just what I used in the headline. He did say he’s worked on his jumper and his defense. And, to his credit, his jumper/range has improved significantly as a Piston.

      • Oct 10, 20127:18 pm
        by City of Klompton


        Touché, Mr. Hayes.  Touch

      • Oct 10, 20127:19 pm
        by City of Klompton


        I’m very good at typing out complete words to end my comments…. Touché…

  • Oct 10, 20126:56 am
    by Derek


    Yeah the ESPN indoctrinated part in many of us (including me) are intrigued about the new dunk.  However, I am WAY more concerned about putting together a team that is growing towards being a winning product…the Bynumite dunk is not going to do that.

    I wanted to hear that he was studying film of watching successful point guards of the past on offense and defense. I wanted to hear that he was learning the finer points of how to run a team.  While I like Bynum’s competitve fire, Patrick’s article rings frustratingly true, that fire is only seen on one end of the floor.

  • Oct 10, 201210:09 am
    by danny


    I really dont like when people use others height as a defensive liability.  Isaiah Thomas was just as small and no one said anything about that.  It’s heart and bynum needs to play both ends on the floor.  Thats why he is stuck on the bench because even though he can score, other people blow by him like its a pick up game.  If I was playing only a few mins in the nba I’d pick up the other play full court every time.  This will show dedication and at least get him going mentally.

    • Oct 10, 201211:51 am
      by CNA5


      But, it is a defensive liability, Danny.  Just because someone has a physical liability doesn’t mean that he can’t overcome that liability.  Bynum’s liability is certainly size and strength.  But, he could make himself a decent defender if he used his quickness and athleticism to better bother guards bringing the ball up.

  • Oct 10, 201211:59 am
    by danny


    I dont buy that at all.  No guards today post up so the size doesn’t really matter.  Yes he is not as strong as most guards but only a few guards in the nba utilize their size.  Only a few guards post up so thats not a big issue.  He has the quickness to stay in front almost any point in the nba.  yes guards can shot over him but if he contests the shot well then I see no problem.  People said that about Ben that he was undersized and we know they were wrong.  I’m not saying bynum isnt I’m just saying he has alot tools to be a good defender.   I’d rather have him quick than big since the game has changed and the speed has picked up.

    • Oct 10, 20123:10 pm
      by CNA5


      Not true, Danny.  Russell Westbrook (6’3), Derron Williams (6’3), and Jrue Holiday (6’4) all work from the post time to time.  And, in the era of the combo guard, you have guys like OJ Mayo (6’4), Rodney Stuckey (6’5), James Harden (6’4), and Tyreke Evans (6’4)- it is even more pronounced.  That’s why you see a lot of 6’1 and shorter PGs fall in the draft, unless they have a spectacular skill set.
      And, even if we don’t talk about the post, that height DOES matter on the perimeter.  Every inch helps closing out- especially since most teams tend to close off the paint on pick and rolls first and give the jumper. 
      And, Danny, no need to be defensive.  I never read your post to be selling Bynum as an All NBA defender.  I’m just saying that you’re 100% wrong about height and length.  Not having it is an impediment.  It’s not such an impediment that a player can’t move past, but it requires that player to use other things to his advantage.
      Let’s look at Ben Wallace.  At 6’8, he’s shorter than most centers.  Typical centers are 6’10 and up.  But, what did Ben Wallace bring?  He was insanely strong.  At 6’8 240 lbs he was much stronger than guys 20 lbs heavier than him.  What else did he have working for him?  He had an athleticism and quickness few bigs had.  Coupled with his strength, he was a specimen in completely different way.  What else?  He had very quick hands.  How many entry passes did he knock away?  How many times did we see Big Ben with 3 or 4 steals?  What else?  He had great hands.  How many drop passes did you see Ben fumble?  How many rebounds did he fail to corral that he got his hands on?  And, lastly, Ben was off the charts with his defensive basketball IQ.  He didn’t often bite on pump fakes.  He didn’t pick up silly fouls.  He rotated at the perfect time to challenge shots.
      The point I’m trying to impress upon you is this.  In order for a player to play past a particular physical limitation, he has to maximize other areas.  Could Bynum do that?  Sure.  There are a number of players who have done that.  But, there is a laundry list of 6’0 and shorter PGs who haven’t. 
      Like I said- I’m not belittling your point that Bynum could be an adequate defender.  I’m just saying that it’s going to take significant evolution in his game to make up for being one of the shortest players on the floor.

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