At 34, Will Bynum is not the typical NBA D-League player. But the 6’ guard and veteran of eight NBA seasons is used to being an outlier.
Bynum is probably best known for the six seasons he spent with the Detroit Pistons from 2008-2014. He enjoyed his greatest on court success in 2010 – starting 20 games, while scoring 10 points and dishing 4.5 assists per contest. His résumé also includes a Final Four appearance with Georgia Tech and stops in the CBA (China) and the Israeli Premier League.
Now, with the Windy City Bulls in hopes of latching on with an NBA team, Bynum sat down with PopGates to talk about the evolution and future of the D-League, his time with the Pistons and what it’s like to be an import player in China.
Noah Perkins: Given your résumé, and where you’re at in your career, why go the D-League route this season?
Will Bynum: To play in the NBA! My option is to play in the NBA and the D-League seemed like the best option at this point – then just being at home.
How would you compare the D-League in 2016 with the D-League in 2005, when your first played in it?
There’s more players and more teams now. It has a long way to go to become the second-best league in the world.
The big difference from the beginning to now is more players get sent down from the NBA team. It’s complex in the sense, when a team has to send down players they’re forced to develop. It kind of goes against the natural reaction of basketball; When you are normally on a team it’s about winning at all cost – once they send guys down, they have to develop, they have to play no matter what.
There is talk of the D-League salary cap getting significantly elevated which would mean higher salaries for players, if that happened what would the impact be on the league, and could that potentially mean attracting foreign talent away from domestic leagues?
It would definitely bring in a lot of the top players that play in the EuroLeague, Eurocup. I know it would bring a lot of players back home. It should happen; I’m not so sure if that’s the plan as far as the D-League. I think it’s difficult, I don’t think it’s that easy. I don’t think they are going to raise the pay to where everybody gets a pay increase – it’s going to be the one player that’s designated from the NBA team.
Being in your mid-30s, having eight years in the NBA, is it difficult for you to be in the D-League?
I mean, I’ve played everywhere, so I don’t have a diva bone inside of me. It’s basketball, no matter where you’re at its similar, so it’s not really a big deal for me.
I did a story on Jordan Crawford last week, and he obviously had some big scoring nights in China. Why is it when we hear something about the CBA in the U.S. it usually has to do with an American having an absurd scoring night?
Depending on what type of team you are on in China – they can depend on you for the majority, or all the scoring. If you are on a bad team, chances are you are going to be doing the majority of the shooting, or they are going to expect you to carry the load. I was blessed to be on a good team in China – so it was easy. We played the game the right way, shared the basketball, defended, tried to play with the right intentions.
What has carried over from your time with the Pistons?
I learned so much when I was with the Pistons. The city showed me nothing but love – still right now to this day the city shows me a lot of love – it was a great thing.
There is so much (that carried over) from my routines – constantly being in a routine no matter what situation you’re in. I learned so much just being around so many different people. It would be dishonest to say one or two people, because I learned from Joe (Dumars); I learned from Chauncey (Billups); I learned from Allen Iverson; Ben Gordon, Rodney Stuckey; I’ve learned from pretty much everybody. All of those things, I take with me – they’re the difference in succeeding or failing.
Rasheed Wallace – what comes to mind?
He’s like the best trick-shot person in the world – from the locker room door; he can shoot two balls at the same time with his left and right hand, and they both go in. He has a variety, like a package of trick shots he shoots every day – and he always makes them.
What’s the early NCAA tournament prediction?
I only have one prediction…Georgia Tech.