Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Is Los Angeles Lakers head coach Mike Brown ruining your fantasy team? If you own Kobe Bryant or Andrew Bynum the answer is likely a resounding YES!
Bryant, a 14-time All-Star, three-time scoring champion and the 2007 NBA MVP, is having another spectacular year. He leads the league in scoring at 28.2 ppg, pulls down 5.6 rpg and dishes out 4.6 apg. He's the heart of the Lakers and his competitiveness rubs off on all of his teammates. Despite early season problems due to roster changes, both proposed and completed, Bryant has not only held the Lakers team together, he has them leading the Pacific division with a 31-20 record.
Yet for some unknown reason coach Brown forced his superstar to sit for four of the final six minutes of a 102-96 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies last Sunday. Bryant finished the game with a disappointing-for-fantasy-owners 18 points, three rebounds and three assists.
"It's his decision to make. He's the coach," Bryant said when asked about the "benching."
If Bryant had been playing horrible basketball, maybe the sit down would have made sense, but that's simply not the case. And it hasn't helped Bryant in the games since. In fact, he's shooting an ugly 16-for-49 (32.7-percent) in the two games in which the Lakers beat Golden State and lost to Oklahoma City.
Two days later, Bynum was benched after taking a three-point shot. Okay, admittedly Bynum taking a three-point shot isn't a good strategic move, but Bynum is having a very good season, some would even call it a breakout season, scoring 18.3 ppg and grabbing 12.2 rebounds each night.
Bynum, who finished the night playing just 24 minutes, scored just 11 points and grabbed five rebounds.
The Lakers' center wasn't nearly as "politically correct" as Bryant and he publicly criticized his coach for the move.
It's a good thing coach Brown doesn't mind drama.
But while the coach may think he's helping his team prepare for the playoffs (not sure how), he's put a dent in two of my NBA fantasy lineups for a reason I haven't figured out.
Bryant is the ultimate in self-starter and a warrior who will always be ready when they ring the bell. But his offense has suddenly disappeared since the benching. Coincidence, I think not.
Bynum, at 24-years-old, is just so young and you always have to be careful not to get in the way of youthful enthusiasm. But that's exactly what the coach has done.
So the bottom line to fantasy owners is that Brown's got two of his three stars (Pau Gasol has somehow avoided Brown's wrath) playing in a funk and with just around 15 games left in the season, it's not the best time for my guys to go into a coach-induced slump.