Lakers’ Bynum ready to battle for starting job
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The first time Andrew Bynum visited Hawaii, the 17-year-old was trying to find his way around his first training camp with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Two years later, he's looking to assert himself in the competition for the starting center job as the Lakers begin preparations for the season in training camp.
"I've got a lot more experience now," Bynum said after a practice at the Stan Sheriff Center. "After two years I know what to expect out of training camp. I worked hard this summer and I'm in shape now."
Bynum entered camp looking to claim the starting job he filled for 53 games last season. Veterans Kwame Brown and Chris Mihm will also compete for the job in the preseason following injury-plagued seasons.
Mihm missed all of last season following surgery on his ankle. Brown is coming back from shoulder and ankle injuries.
"I'm just taking it slow, don't want to take it too fast and injure myself," Brown said. "I'm feeling a lot better than I did last year, it's all about consistency now, that I can maintain that high level of play without getting injured."
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According to the schedule, Andrew Bynum's pursuit of a starting job began with the opening of the Los Angeles Lakers' training camp last week.
In reality, the process began a lot earlier.
Two years removed from becoming the youngest player to be selected in the NBA Draft, Bynum devoted his offseason to improving his conditioning with an eye on claiming the starting center job in camp.
"I definitely want to establish my position," Bynum said as the Lakers' opened training camp at Iolani School. "I think I'm good enough to get that starting job, and that's what I'm out here to do, to prove to everybody that I'm ready.
"I'm definitely in way better shape than last year. That's the biggest difference, I feel a lot stronger than I did before."
The last time Bynum visited the islands, he was a 17-year-old rookie just trying to find his footing in his first training camp.
He came back last week with two years of experience behind him and looking to assert himself in camp, which closes this week with exhibition games with the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday and Thursday at the Stan Sheriff Center.
Still among the Lakers' youngest players at 19, Bynum played in all 82 games last season, starting 53, and averaged 7.8 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.56 blocks per game.
To prepare for his third season and better handle the season-long grind, Bynum spent much of his summer sweating his way into shape.
"I did a lot of cardiovascular, running on the track. Everything we did, even weights, was cardio involved," Bynum said after a practice at the Sheriff Center.
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Andrew Bynum, who was the youngest player to be drafted at 17, started 53 of 82 games last season for the Lakers and averaged 7.8 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.56 blocks a game.
Those competing with him have been among those to notice his development on and off the court.
"He's matured a lot," veteran center Chris Mihm said. "People forget how young he was when he first came in, and Andrew's worked hard all summer to get his body a lot stronger and get into better shape."
Mihm and Kwame Brown are both easing back from injuries to contend for the job as well as the Lakers move toward their Oct. 30 season opener.
"That's a problem for the coaches, and I think it's a good problem to have when you have three guys who can potentially start," Brown said.
"It's going to be a healthy competition.
"(Bynum's) definitely in shape now, and he's more confident and he definitely feels like he's ready to start and carry the bulk of the work. But that can be said for myself and Chris.
"But it's not a job for us to go out and worry about that. We just go out, put our best foot forward and let the coaches decide."
Shoulder and ankle problems limited Brown to appearing in 41 games last season.
That was 41 more than Mihm, who never suited up after having his right ankle operated on twice.
Brown's workload remains limited in training camp, a precaution against suffering a setback leading up to the season. Mihm can participate in all of the drills, though he regularly soaks his ankle in a bucket of ice at the end of practice.
"It was long process for me to get back out here on the court. I've really enjoyed getting back training with the guys," Mihm said.
"It was a long year. To be in there rehabbing seven days a week for five or six months and to be in there every day at practice and all the games, I tried to do what I could to help the guys out, but when you're not part of the team and not playing it makes for a tough season."