Something To Think About…

Darius Soriano —  January 6, 2011

A brief examination of two players:

Player A (per game): 18.4 points, 10.7 rebounds, 4.0 assists
Player B (per game): 15.6 points, 9.5 rebounds, 3.1 assists

Player A (per 36 minutes): 17.5 points, 10.2 rebounds, 3.8 assists
Player B (per 36 minutes): 16.1 points, 9.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists

Both of these players play for the Lakers and both are having what could only be considered very good seasons.  Both should be in contention for an All-Star game berth when the game will be held in their home arena in late February.  However, one player has been performing well all season (with only a handful of down games) and the other has struggled mightily of late putting together several sub-par performances over the past several weeks.

When looking at recent performance, we get the following numbers for the month of December:

Player A (36.6 mpg): 16.1 points, 9.5 rebounds, 4.1 assists
Player B (36 mpg):  17.3 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists

Player A is Pau Gasol and Player B is Lamar Odom.  I haven’t listed these stats to try and bring down Gasol or to try and focus on the fact that he’s been outperformed in any way by Odom (the stats essentially say that these guys have had comparable years to this point).  I bring this up to focus on the fact that Odom is having a damn good season thus far.  We’ve consistently said that Odom is an X factor for this team because his inconsistent nature meant that any excellent game from him normally meant a Laker win; that becuase those special games from Odom couldn’t be counted on, that the team benefitted greatly from those contests where he flashed his full potential.

Well, those games – at least so far this season – have not been an anomaly, but rather the norm.  We all know that Odom is a special player and that his ability to play such a diverse game makes him one of the more unique talents in the league.  This year, we’ve been seeing that player perform more consistently than ever before and for that I’m thankful.  Now, if we could only get the other guy to start to play back at his level more…

Darius Soriano

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19 responses to Something To Think About…

  1. Nice write up Darius! I must say that my heart was in my throat when I saw Odom writhing in pain last night. I think this team would be in trouble without him. I don’t think he’s been outplaying Gasol, but he has definitely been comparable. Part of me hopes he makes the All-Star team and part of me doesn’t. If 4 Lakers make the team then the media will take a little away from Kobe winning #6 this year.

  2. I think Lamar has been the best laker this year. Pau for some reason, has not been as aggressive and it seems like the league has learned a lot of his moves. Pau needs to go back to his basics, right hook, driving hook. Hes trying to do too many moves. I want to see bynum play well against an actual center in the league but his patience was impressive yesterday. It still seems to me that hes struggling to get up and down the court.

  3. I have been hard on LO over the years for his inconsistent effort on the court, but this year I must give him props for bringing it every night. Whatever he is eating, not smoking(you know I had to throw that in there ), please continue to do so and pass the knowledge on to your boy Ron.

  4. Odom has a top 10 in the league skill set; he’s just never used it consistently for a whole season (at least with the Lakers). This year looks like that could be changing. Without looking at the game logs, I don’t recall nearly as many occurrences of him seemingly losing his focus as has happened in the past.

  5. LO has a sprained left shoulder. Apparently was joking, but still refused to demonstrate whether or not he can left his arm over his head at the press meeting.

    Supposedly available to play on Friday regardless.

  6. We can thank the World Championship Tourney for LO’s splendid performance so far this season.

    1. Being that he was the ‘Seasoned Veteran’ on the team (with Championship Experience), he was looked upon as a Leader. He had to make his presence felt throughout the Tournament because the core of the team was so Young and Inexperienced. His Play, and Mental Approach for that matter, has simply carried over.

    2. He came into camp in Excellent shape. It’s been nothing but B-Ball since Training Camp of ’09. He hasn’t had the opportunity 2 get Lacadasical, in a sense. The Worlds allowed him to have a Headstart, so to say, over individuals who, correctly, took the summer off.

    I just hope that he maintains this level of Consistency throughout the Season and earns an All Star Selection for the 1st time in his career.

  7. Shaq surprised they fined him $35,000

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJEa_62JB6s

  8. LO, according to Journey to the Ring, apparently NEVER worked out during the off-season before, actually trying not to participate in ANY basketball-related activities.

    Well, that was my interpretation of Phil’s comment (which was a picture of him and Walton), and in a way, his attitude was like Shaq’s.

    But this year, he was forced to work out during the summer (maybe the Lakers secretly lobbied and begged LO to be included ;) ) and boy it has made a world of difference. I know assumptions are useless, but had he been this good during our Shaq-free years, we would’ve made it past the first round (by not drawing PHX, at least).

  9. @ Tra

    Dude, you nailed it right on the head. LO has def carried over the success from his off season FIBA World Championship games. That momentum he brought back home has given him “consistent” numbers, well, and Bynum not playing early on helped too with minutes. Consequently, Odom has more double-doubles than In & Out (sorry that’s all I got).

    Look for LO’s numbers to drop because of Andrew’s return. LO has always said he will contribute in anyway possible, as a starter or off the bench. This type of attitude makes fans love him even more. He’s a team player. I just wish he had that same attitude during his post-game interviews. LOL. “Uh ya our transition D was better…and we executed…NOW GET THE F OUT OF MY FACE! I always feel bad for the FSW reporter who has to try really hard to crack a smile.

    On a personal note, I want to really thank FB&G for all the support. We thank you for adding our link under your Lakers Sites column about a year ago. All it took was one simple request and you folks added it in with no hesitance. You guys truly rock and are an inspiration to all of us rooks.

  10. LO has been fantastic no doubt. That being said, there is a big difference between his and Pau’s respective games:

    LO can get his numbers, pretty much regardless of what the rest of the team does. Since he’s a ballhandler, he’s not dependent on other people finding him. Pau on the other hand can only be as effective as the ballhandlers allow him to be. I’m not saying that he’s been great lately, but part of the problem is people not getting him the ball in the right positions.

    One could of course argue that Pau needs to be more assertive and so forth, but there are a number of occasions every game in which the ball should clearly go in to Pau but fails to do so. This also has the effect that he isn’t able to get into any kind of rhythm, so when he finally does receive the ball, he’s less effective with it.

    If players kept feeding the post, Pau would be a lot more effective, and the Lakers would be a lot better as a result.

  11. Félix Antonio Gutiérrez Santolino January 7, 2011 at 5:31 am

    Stats are funny stuff. Why not using Pau’s stats from October to November, when he was right there on the MVp’s race?. Lamar is playing nice, and as a Lakers’ fan i’m happy about that, but it seems that Pau is the one to blame for everything on this team…even for Lamar’s success?. I can´t get it.
    All-Star-Game’s is about people’s choices. Don´t forget Yao is the #1 at C spot. Is Lamar deserving an All Star spot?. For sure. Then, why to throw Pau’s season under the wheels for that?. It’s funny how fans use to forget the big picture easily. Pau’s having some issues lately. No matter what they’re, he has decided not to make them public, and we should respect that. Last game, against the Suns, he leaded the team on assists (6). I bet there were teammates out there on court happy to have him there. And i also bet that Carter would have loved not to have him blocking that last shot.
    Stop bashing Pau. Basketball is a TEAM effort.

  12. I love how hurt Spaniards (myself included) immediately come to Pau’s defense whenever he’s questioned – we won’t be satisfied till you end each post with the words “Pau for MVP” Darius;)

  13. Pau´s having some issues lately?????? What issues???????

  14. 12 – I don’t think anyone is bashing Pau. He is an all world basketball player. The thing is he is not playing like that right now. And the team is worse off for it. I believe he will get it together. But in the meantime it is totally acceptable for fans and sportswriters alike to point out his very noticeable drop off. That’s not bashing. That’s calling it what it is.

  15. #13. I know it. But I don’t take offense to that stuff. Earlier during the year I was going to run a post about Pau’s tremendous start and mention how rare his level of production was. After those first 8-10 games he was putting up numbers that only a few other players had ever put up (I think Kareem and young Barkley were on that list).

    The thing is that his play started to decline not too long after that. For a while it was certainly linked to the heavy load he was carrying with both Drew and Theo out. And he could still be feeling the affects of that some. But he also looks mentally fatigued to me now. His decision making isn’t as sharp as it normally is and his movement around the court, to the ball, and in trying to establish position on both ends isn’t what it’s been in the past.

    A lot of people want to go back to the “soft” commentary when they see this, but I don’t buy that (he’s done too much since 2008 to dispell that in my eyes and it’s too easy to fall back on). But something is there. I wish I knew what, but I don’t. The thing is that his numbers (save for the last few games) aren’t bad at all. And that’s one of the things I wanted to highlight in the post – but the fact is that his down games are way more frequent than at any point during his time in LA. But he’s still so good that he can do other things to compensate some. He is still rebounding pretty effectively and his ability to pass the ball will never go away. But if the Lakers are really going to be the class of the league, they need the All-NBA version of Pau. Not a guy that’s just comparable to what Odom produces.

    If there’s a pecking order of big men on the Lakers it needs to go Pau then a mix of Drew and Odom. The fact is that Pau is the anchor and Bynum/Odom support him by complimenting *his* game with their differences (Drew is a banger and Odom is the gazelle). Right now though, there are many nights where he’s either equal to or being outplayed by both. Really, look at the rotations and substitution patterns at the end of the game and you can see that Phil will go to lineups without Pau more often than we’ve ever seen before.

    Pau is still awesome but I don’t think you’ll find one unbiased observer that thinks he’s playing his typical game right now. That’s just the truth.

  16. It’s interesting that now that Odom has shown the consistency we all thought would lead to this team being unbeatable, they have produced so many losses. Obviously not his fault, but infuriating nonetheless.

    And has everyone forgotten that he was the best player on the 2004 Olympic team, which presumably played through the summer?

  17. Darius: Of course you’re spot on. But I’m not worried. My theory is that it’s a combination of him still feeling the affects of Drew’s absence like you say, and also that the offense hasn’t really run through Pau like it should.

    He’ll be back to his all-star self soon enough. And with what we’re seeing from Drew and LO, the Lakers will be a mean team when that happens. I actually think that this current Laker team could threaten any team ever to play the game, if they are healthy and play up to their potential. The three-headed monster that is our frontline, combined with one of the greatest players and competitors of all time, a hall of fame coach, and a solid supporting cast? That could make up a nice little team.

  18. I think Pau’s MVP play earlier in the season surprized some people and consequently, teams started to place more focus on neautralizing Pau’s effectiveness. Teams are doubling Pau, fronting him, pushing him off the block and making him become a jumpshooter instead of a low-post threat. I honestly don’t see much of a difference in the way the guards feed the post from the beginning of the year until now. And I just think it’s kind of a copout to always blame the guards for the spotty play of big men. Pau just looks worn down, which is completely understandable.

  19. Looks like the spaniards on this site need to put down the pau poms poms before typing. If you look at odom, kobe, bynum and pau, who should have been the healthiest and therefore playing the best at the start of this year? Odom is playing better than pau and I thought odom would be fatigued after playing all summer. Pau is a great player, but he should have done a lot more this year – especially since he knew he would be needed. I would not be surprised if kobe and jackson feel that way too. Unless there’s some injury or major personal issue we don’t know about, it’s been a disappointment. I do like the effort he showed in Phoenix – very nice block at the end of the game. He did more in that game than he did in a while.