Bynum’s optimism runs high, but he’s mindful of need for chemistry
For the first time, Bynum spent a good chunk of his summer in Las Vegas at the same facility where Chauncey Billups and Tayshaun Prince have long trained. There he and Billups talked about the team, the season ahead and their roles as leaders.
“We talked about the team, about life,” he said. “Chauncey’s a great guy. We talked about chemistry. We’ve got to put the time in. We’ve got to spend time together, get to know one another, get to know one another’s games. I’ve already started with that stuff. I’m a little bit ahead, watching these guys and seeing where they like the ball at and what they like to do and how they like to do it. That’s the key – bonding together as a team and doing things the right way.”
As the second longest-tenured Piston behind Rodney Stuckey in terms of consecutive service – Stuckey was drafted in 2007, Bynum signed in 2008 – and second oldest Piston at 30 behind Billups, Bynum feels perfectly comfortable expanding his leadership role.
“No doubt,” he said. “When you look at life experience, basketball experience, I’ve been through it all. I’m not the type of guy who puts myself over the organization or the team. Guys relate to me pretty well and respect what I say. That’s what I’ve been looking forward to doing. I’ve been here through the downs and I was here when we were good. I’m glad to be around this much talent and help them put this thing back together.”
Bynum ended last season uncertain of his future as a free agent. He had two things pulling in his favor for a return to the Pistons, though: the way he clicked with Andre Drummond, especially running the pick and roll; and the input of Maurice Cheeks when Joe Dumars hired him as coach in early June before the July 1 start to free agency. Cheeks was especially enamored of Bynum’s ability to pressure the ball – and Bynum said he’ll be more assertive in doing so this season than in the past because of the makeup of the team.
“Defensively, we can be incredible,” he said. “Especially having those guys – Greg, Andre, Josh – out there, I can get out and really pressure the ball and not have to worry about getting beat because I know these guys have my back. It’s just going to make us that much more of a defensive team and I look forward to playing with these guys.
“The talent is through the roof. On paper, we look pretty good. But on paper doesn’t matter. We’ve got to come in and get between these lines and do the work, and off the court we have to do the work, as well.”
Bynum welcomes the competition for playing time that training camp promises. He’ll line up at point guard, where newcomer Brandon Jennings, Billups and rookie Peyton Siva form a deep and diverse crop. Rodney Stuckey and lottery pick Kentavious Caldwell-Pope are the front-runners at shooting guard, but Bynum expects plenty of overlap and envisions multiple playing combinations that could even include a Bynum-Jennings tandem that would create intriguing possibilities.
“We definitely can play together,” he said. “Brandon can shoot the ball, Brandon can attack off the dribble. It just makes it more of a problem for the defense to have to stop us. With him on one side and me on the other, pick and rolls with Andre and Greg and Josh, it will be definitely hard to stop. We just have to get that chemistry together. We have a lot of talent here, it’s just about us bonding together as one.
“I haven’t been this excited to play in a while, man. Internally, I’m always ready, but for the overall feel from everybody, from the organization having my back and for them actually having the confidence in me to go out there, it’s different for me. This is where I definitely wanted to be. This is where my family wants to be. It’s the best place for me. I love it here and I look forward to being a part of a winning organization. This is going to be some fun right here.”