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Lakers Vs. Knicks: L.A. Has Excelled With Andrew Bynum In Starting Lineup

The Los Angeles Lakers have gone 5-1 in their last six games, which just happens to coincide with the return of center Andrew Bynum to the starting lineup. Now, the Lakers may have gone 5-1 in those six games anyway, as they had four home games, and faced four teams with losing records. But, Bynum's solid play has earned him the Lakers' Player of the Week honors from the SB Nation blog Silver Screen and Roll.

Bynum for the week averaged 14.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 2.8 blocks per game in four games last week, dated Sunday to Saturday. Bynum has averaged 13.2 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 2.2 blocks per game in six games as a starter, averaging 28.1 minutes per contest. The return of Bynum to the starting lineup has solidified the Lakers, empirically at the very least, wrote wondahpab:

My opinion of Andrew's effect on the defense is really more gut observations based on what I see, rather than backed up by statistical data. Defensive efficiency ratings haven't shown improvement with Andrew starting, nor does there seem to be any real difference in opponents' shot attempts at the rim, nor team blocks. One slight improvement that seems to show so far is opponents' offensive rebounds have seemed to decrease, and the Lakers have only allowed over 100 points twice since his return. As his knee gets stronger and his comfort level increases, I expect his defensive impact will make the Lakers defense return to last season's elite level. 

The return of Bynum to the starting lineup moved Lamar Odom to the bench, where he has performed wonderfully as the sixth man. Odom has seen little drop in his production, averaging 15.8 points and 8.5 rebounds in six games off the bench, all while shooting 54.7% from the field. Odom's return to the bench helps ease the burden created with the pending surgery for Matt Barnes.

Barnes will be out up to eight weeks, but the Lakers still have a viable eight-man rotation, with Shannon Brown and Steve Blake joining Odom off the bench. Luke Walton figures to see an increase in minutes with Barnes out, but those minutes could be spread around between Odom, Kobe Bryant, or even Bynum as his minutes increase (the center averaged 30.5 minutes last season).

For more Lakers news and information, be sure to read Silver Screen and Roll.