Life Without Lamar

Kurt —  December 13, 2006

Well, that sucks. If one guy deserved a season without misfortune it was Odom.

First things first, we’ll know more later today on just how long Odom will be out after the MRI is completed. Early guesses ranged from one to six weeks, depending on who you listen to. But as kwame a. said in the comments on the Rockets game, best not to rush him back and have it never get quite right. It’s a long season and the Lakers need Odom healthy.

Look for power-forward-by-committee trio of Radmanovic, Cook and Turiaf to fill in for Lamar. Also, Luke Walton will see time at the four with Kobe at the three and Mo Evans at the two — that’s the lineup that went +6 in the waning minutes in Houston to secure with win. My guess is that matchups will determine the playing time on a night-to-night basis, along with who gets the hot hand. Much like Phil has done late in games at the point guard spot.

For example, I would guess Turiaf (the best defender of the four) will get a good amount of time on Dirk Nowitzki tonight. But that is also a sign of just how everyone will have to step up — Turiaf can’t handle Dirk out on the wing (nor can Cook, Walton or Radman, they are all too slow) so he’s going to need rotation help from Kwame and Bynum to stop Dirk from driving for uncontested shots.

It’s going to take the entire team because Odom was bringing a lot to the table. His shooting numbers have been almost identical to Kobe: 53.2% (eFG%), 58.6% true shooting percentage, 35.8% on threes, he was +1.9 per 48 minutes (same as Kobe) and he was the only Laker besides Kobe using more than 20% of the offense while on the floor. We’re talking 18.5 points, 9.2 rebounds and 5.2 assists per 40 minutes played — and Odom has been playing more minutes per game than Kobe.

This is where the Lakers depth can be of use — last night Luke Walton stepped up, another night it may need to be Kwame, another night Smush, another night Cook. Then there may be a night it’s just the Kobe show again. And that’s just the scoring; the bigs are going to have to focus on rebounding because Odom may have been the team’s most consistent rebounder.

I think this team has what it takes. I just hope we don’t have to watch the Odomless Lakers for too long.