Just a few things to look for as many of us bounce back and forth between the Dodgers and the Lakers tonight.
• Will we get to see Gasol and Bynum on the court at the same time? I hope so. We need to at some point.
• Lamar Odom. One preseason game is less than meaningless, but what we are looking for are patterns in the preseason. And the problem with Odom’s struggles the other night in a pseudo-point guard role is that there already is a pattern. Reed reminded us of that in the comments:
I am bewildered as to why the coaching staff is trying again with the failed “initiator” experiment. What positives does he bring to that role? How does that fit with his strengths? On offense, Odom has been at his best when using his speed to attack 4’s off the dribble, get out in transition, and cut to the basket when Kobe, Pau get too much attention. In this role, he averaged 16 points on 59% shooting after the all-star break last year. Before the break, when he was more perimeter oriented, he averaged 13 on 48% shooting. His length, speed, and efficiency were key reasons we blitzed through the west last year.
Odom brings very particular strengths and weaknesses to the table, meaning he can be either very, very effective, or completely forgotten. I just don’t see how using him in a PG/initiator role does anything other than lead to the latter.
Check out the discussion that follows in the comments — it shows there are no easy answers. You can find plenty of examples of just how good Odom can be, but all of those come at the four. That’s a crowded spot unless Odom wants to come off the bench. Some commenters here, and Kevin Ding at the OC Register, suggest the Odom-at-the-point experiment was doomed to fail, but Phil knows this and thinks it is the best way to get LO to accept a role off the bench. And his strengths in the post and pushing the pace could be well suited off the bench, even if Odom is not a classic light it up off the bench scorer. But getting him to embrace that lesser role in a contract year could be a challenge.
Tonight, we’ll see if a more focused Odom can show us more in the initiator role, or if it just fuels more discussion of what the next step is for him.
• Can Lowe keep the ball down and in that sandbox they call a ballpark in Philly?
• Defense, I want to see better defense. (You can apply this to the Lakers or Dodgers.)
• Lakers season previews are going up everywhere, including at SI.com.
• If you haven’t seen and read it yet, Sports Guy Bill Simmon’s piece on Elgin Baylor the player is a must. You can’t forget he helped change the game and was maybe the best three ever to lace it up.