Forum Blue & Gold reflects back on the season that was for Lamar Odom and what we can expect from him in 2010-2011. Check out Phillip’s exit interviews post to hear it from the forward in his own words.
As the old adage says: as Lamar Odom goes, the Lakers go. If truer words have spoken during the Lakers’ most recent run of NBA finals berths, I haven’t heard them. The always entertaining 6’10” forward has represented something of an enigma during his six-year tenure with the forum blue and gold. When he first joined Kobe and Co., Lamar was immediately anointed as the second coming of Scottie Pippen. He now stands tall as a vital, yet still underrated sixth man and two-time NBA champion.
Odom has faced a lion’s share of criticism over the course of that transition process, some deserved, some not. His surprising willingness to agree to a bench role before the 2008-2009 season deserves unanimous praise, though. For Odom, the 2009-2010 season was about perfecting his new role after the addition of Ron Artest to an already formidable front line. Despite his now somewhat expected consistent inconsistency during the regular season, the results of his big-game performances in a must-win Game 5 against the Suns and Game 7 against the Celtics are hard to argue.
Over the course of an impressive 82 games, Lamar averaged almost 11 points and 10 rebounds, while playing a starter-like 32 minutes. Those numbers easily represent the lowest of his career, but with the offensive arsenal behind him, he provided the Lakers with exactly what they needed on most nights. However, Odom struggled mightily against the upstart Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round, bringing in a disappointing eight points and seven rebounds on only 41% shooting from the field. Luckily for Lamar, his untimely disappearing act was largely overlooked after Pau Gasol’s series-clinching put-back in Game 6.
Against a more familiar foe in the Phoenix Suns, Mr. Kardashian thrived, posting much-improved averages of 14 points to go along with 12 boards. In fact, with the series hanging in the balance in Game 5, it was the chameleonesque Odom who slithered his way to a difference-making 17 points and 13 rebounds. His up-and-down post-season continued against Boston’s significantly tougher front line in the Finals, though. However, give Lamar credit for being a leading instigator in L.A.’s second half comeback from 13 down in Game 7.
Odom had better statistical games during the regular season, but none that had anywhere near the impact of his aforementioned 17-point, 13-rebound (including five offensive boards) performance against Phoenix in Game 5 of the Conference Finals. With the Lakers lollygagging around in the second half, allowing the Suns to eventually tie the game, it was often Odom who jolted the team back into the moment. Without his rugged play, there is no Ron Artest game-winner and we are looking at an entirely different series.
I think that both sports media and fans make a habit out of painting “pictures” for our favorite athletes early on in their careers. In many ways, we are watching it happen right now with LeBron James; through seven NBA seasons, he remains ringless and for fans of the former Cavaliers superstar, his legacy, which was once a foregone conclusion, is suddenly very much in doubt. To a lesser extent, Lamar also falls into this group thanks to an eye-opening college career at Rhode Island and a stellar first few seasons with the Clippers. At his height, his ball-handling skills and passing ability instantly drew comparisons to Lakers great Magic Johnson. That’s the problem with setting such lofty expectations early on in a player’s career, though; what happens when they are not always met? Do you render that player’s career an automatic failure because they did not live up to the potential that fans and media prognosticated?
In the case of Odom, I think that our ideal vision for his end destiny as an NBA player has undergone a metamorphosis of sorts over the past few seasons. It seems odd that consistency issues are even a topic of conversation for an 11-year veteran, but it remains—and probably always will—an issue for the forward. The difference now is that most of his fans—and teammates for that matter—are not looking for Lamar to produce a 20-10 night in every game over the course of a grueling nine-month season. Coach Jackson understands this better than anyone, which is why he was arguably the leading champion of Lamar’s understated value when Jerry Buss initially seemed reluctant to dive deeper into luxury tax territory to re-sign Odom last summer. Without the burden of playing up to a near-max level contract and as option B on offense, the Candy Man has excelled at filling in the gaps during the Lakers’ past three Finals runs, both as a super-sub and impromptu starter.
This will not change next season, as the team brings back virtually the same core of players that has already led them to consecutive NBA titles. If anything, I look for Lamar to improve on his 2009-2010 campaign with a bolstered bench that now includes steady point guard Steve Blake to replace the often-erratic Jordan Farmar. I fully expect Coach Jackson to continue to utilize Odom over Andrew Bynum in late-game situations too, depending on match-ups and which player(s) the team signs between now and training camp to fill out the front line. Regardless of his specific role, if we have learned anything over the years, it is that Lamar can adapt to any environment. His contributions as a key role player and valued teammate cannot be overlooked as the Lakers look forward to defending their crown.
Ultimately, for his production as a 6th man, as a skilled big, a great rebounder, and for that price?
The guy is irreplaceable. Frustrating, yes. But also irreplaceable. The smartest thing the Lakers did is make it so they do not rely on him. But when he “shows up”, or when he is able to make an impact with his skill set, he is crucial.
And as a fan, is there anything better than watching Lamar grab a board and dribble all the way up the court for a sprawling, outstretched lefty layup and one?
Everyone knows my affinity for LO. So, I’m just happy that he’s still here and contributing to a team that’s now winning championships.
Great post, Jeff.
LO is who he is. And even with his rampant inconsistency, he is absolutely indispensable to this team. His ability to come in and slide Pau to the 5 and in doing so completely change the makeup and style of our front line is an under-rated rated factor in our success. He’s a glue guy – everyone likes him the locker room, and he does all of the little things on the court, depending on what is needed.
I re-watched the 2nd half of Game 7 the other night, and LO really stuck out as the key player in the 3rd quarter comeback. He came in with 7:45 left in the 3rd and with us down by 12, and he immediately changed the tenor of our team. He put up 6 pts and 5 rebounds in the next 5 minutes, including two crowd-energizing putbacks and one nice driving layup.
That performance immediately placed him in my “I will never say a bad word about him for the rest of my life” category. Of course, for some players, there’s not much of a threshold to get there. Sasha got there just for knocking down those 2 FTs with 11 seconds left. 🙂
Funky Chicken says
I’m probably in the minority around here when it comes to LO, but this is one guy I would hardly call “vital”.
Most of the arguments I encounter about Lamar boil down to this: “with Andrew being hurt the last 2 years, the Lakers could not have won without LO.”
That is a hard argument to dispute, except that it paints an unrealistic picture of a Laker team with LO versus one without him (but with no replacement). To me, the question isn’t having LO or not having LO; it is having LO or having another player at $8 million a year instead of LO–and THAT is where my argument lies.
For the kind of money that LO makes, I think the Lakers could replace him. For example, there is a backup power forward in Utah who would be a far more consistent player named Paul Millsap, whose contract is nearly identical to Lamar’s. While LO brings more “potential”, he also brings a level of inconsistency that makes his salary hard to justify. And it isn’t inconsistency of outcome that I’m talking about; it is inconsistent effort. I would happily forgive Lamar’s numerous games with bad stats if his effort was there, but that’s not the case with most of his bad games.
In the end, as a reserve, the guy is a very solid player and definitely a key contributor, but I think fans make the mistake of assuming a Laker team without LO would be a Laker team without a replacement for LO. And when you start to think about the energy guys off the bench that can be had for $8 million a year, it is hard for me to believe that LO is the only guy the Lakers can consistently win with….
I’m always happy whenever I see the word “lollygagging” used in a sentence! 🙂
I think we’re all in agreement that seeing Lamar forget to focus on the game night after night is one of the most frustrating things about being a Lakers fan. He could be so GREAT, and yet he has these sub-par games over and over and over and… whoa there. Just as we’re ready to reach through the TV and strangle him he has a night of absolute brilliance and we forgive him everything.
The thing with Lamar, that I think is so easy to forget, is that he understands the concept of “team first” better than anyone else who ever talks about it in post-game interviews. Sometimes I think he intentionally turns himself into a non-factor because he thinks it’s better for the team if the bench works together as a unit than if he takes over. (Whether he’s right about that or not is a topic for another discussion.) Whatever the reason for his inconsistency though it’s not going to change after11 years, and I for one am happy to put up with it as long as Lamar continues to be able to flip the switch and play like an All-Star on nights when we desperately need him to.
He’s become irreplaceable now, and we would never have won back to back championships without him. I have no doubt that I’m going to be shouting and cursing at him as the next season begins and goes on, but in the end, I’m glad he’s back and I hope he’s here to stay.
i agree with the previous posts, but I was not so surprised about the constant rumors of him getting traded. for me, the question is whether LO will do anything to improve his game over the summer. I’d like to see him work on his outside shot. a more consistent shot will help him get to the basket a little easier. he’s got very little leaping ability, which is fine with his wingspan. the problem is that everyone knows that the left side is the only side for lamar. you cut off the left and he’s done.
Which is why I’d prefer to see him work on using his right, the outside shot can wait. Imagine a Lamar Odom with the ability to finish with either hand under the basket…! Scary! 🙂
I think if we all come to see him as a bonus to our squad rather than harking on him for not showing up, people would have less criticism. When he has his monster 16/14 nights, we rarely (if ever) lose games. When he doesn’t show up, we still win most of our games. Let’s embrace who is is and not disparage him for not being the next Magic or “living up to his potential.” As mentioned earlier, 11 seasons in, he’s not going to suddenly become a different player.
Lamar, as Lamar, the Candyman, Mr. Kardashian, is a delight when he is on, but he will never have that every night, and when you are ok with that, it’s a pleasure to watch him. Let’s just hope he continues to bring it in needed moments. It’s ok not to bring it in the 63-66th games of the season as long as you show up in the 2nd half of G7. Thanks for taking years off my life LO, but ultimately being irreplacable.
Lamar Odom was the spark on offense and the lynchpin of our Celtic-crushing defense during the late 3rd and 4th quarters of Game 7 during the Finals.
Lamar entered the game with 7:39 to go in the 3rd quarter, with the Lakers down 49-37 (omg read that again, 49-37 in the third quarter!!! Such a low-scoring game). The following offensive possessions read as such:
Kobe Bryant makes running jumper (Lamar Odom assists)
Pau Gasol makes two point shot
Derek Fisher makes 18-foot running jumper (Lamar Odom assists)
Ron Artest misses layup
Lamar Odom offensive rebound
Lamar Odom makes two point shot
That brought us to 5:37 left in the 3rd with the Celtics now leading 51-45, their lead cut in half in two minutes.
Odom played the rest of the game, and the Lakers outscored the Celtics 46-30 after Odom subbed in.
The Celtics coughed up 6 turnovers in the 10 minutes following Odom’s re-entry, and would shoot 3-13 from the field with only 1 made free throw. By that time, the Celtic lead was down to 2 with 9 minutes to go in the 4th quarter.
And in just using my eyes, it was obvious that Odom’s help as well as swift recoveries were the main reason that our defense was so stifling in that time period.
Yea, Lamar has probably one good game a series, but they usually seem to come at crucial moments, whether it be Game 5 against Phoenix, Game 7 against Boston, or in Game 5 of the Finals last year when Odom had two back-to-back threes to push our lead from 5 to 11 in the 3rd quarter.
#4. Funky Chicken,
While your point is well made, I think you’re severely undervaluing the domino effect of LO’s diverse skill set. Sure, a player like Millsap may be a good “energy player” who rebounds and scores well. However, his skill set is a duplication of what Gasol and Bynum provide. The beauty of Odom’s game is that it’s not duplicated by anyone and his ability to be a chameleon on both sides of the ball gives the Lakers a diversity that other players that play “traditional” styles can’t provide the team.
Odom is a player that can initiate the offense from the PF position. He can be a primary ball handler and direct players to the correct positions on the court. He then allows players like Gasol and/or Kobe to slide into the post and operate in different positions within the offense that optimize the Lakers results. Phil Jackson said himself that one of the reasons why he plays Odom in crunch time is because his specific skills allow the Lakers to explore more options on offense by allowing Kobe to play the Pau role at the elbow and allowing Pau to play the Bynum role as the low post threat. The spacing that he provides the team by being capable of playing on the wing while still being a very good offensive rebounder and slasher off the ball as a 6’10” player is an extrordanary advantage that the Lakers have over every team.
This is why Odom is valuable and worth his $8 million. He has the requisite skills to play any offensive position on the court and do so at a level where the Lakers can still play to their other strengths without losing talent, ability, floor spacing, etc, etc. That’s why a guy like Millsap won’t do. It’s why he’s the perfect compliment to both Gasol *and* Bynum. It’s the versatility we pay for. Sure, a guy like Millsap (or even Boozer if you want to take another step up in caliber of player) may be better or more consistent, but on this team – as the 3rd big – they wouldn’t be nearly as good the fit because Odom is the guy that can play anywhere and it allows other players to be slotted in around him in whatever way the team needs.
Texas Rob says
Every year since the Showtime years I’ve had a “whipping boy”. This is the guy that usually under achieves or is pretty much a waste while on the court, makes stupid decisions and would make me yell at the TV continuously. Some of these names take me back… Mark Landsberger, Chuck Nevitt, Mychal Thompson, Jack Haley, Sam Perkins, Sam Bowie, Sean Rooks, Rick Fox (Hollywood, I used to yell) Mark Madson, Slava Medvedenko, Vladimir Radmanovic, Kwame Brown… oh the horror. Currently I can not single out any player on this team that I “whip” on a continuous basis. It’s more of a situational whip, Fisher on the fast break or driving to the hoop, Artest launching an off balance 3, Bynum during the “black hole” period this season. Neglected from this list is Lamar, I just can’t put him in that category. He never really makes me yell, because most of the time what he does on the court for the most part goes unnoticed. Lamar … we here at FB&G…we notice.
Winning depends on chemistry, and for better or for worse, LO is an integral part of the Lakers’ chemistry. He is a riddle wrapped in a mystery – What gets him started? What stops him?
It seems to be a ‘need’ function. When he feels he is needed, he responds. But he is signed, sealed and delivered to pursue this Laker team’s place in history. He is committed, and I expect him to have a special year.
Funky Chicken says
Darius, I don’t disagree that Odom has a more diverse skillset and is able to space the floor in ways that more traditional 6’10” guys can’t.
What I do disagree with is that these attributes are a necessary component to the Lakers winning. Of course Phil Jackson uses Lamar in a way that maximizes his impact on the game, but the same could be said of anyone who played that role (they would just be put in a different position than LO because they wouldn’t have his ball handling skills).
Most of Lamar’s great games come when he posts big rebounding numbers. Not coincidentally (since he gets a lot of his points on putbacks) his big rebounding games tend to coincide with big scoring games. Those benefits are not the byproduct of floor spacing, and those benefits could be gotten on a much more consistent basis with a hustle guy like Millsap.
Again, I agree that Lamar is versatile (although I think you have greatly overstated his ability to “play any offensive position on the court”), but lost in the discussion of versatility is the idea that maybe the Lakers wouldn’t be so dependent upon his versatility if they had a more consistent player in that role.
Your point about the “domino effect” that LO has on the team is a good one, for sure, but how do you measure the “domino effect” that Lamar has when he gives a subpar effort?
I think it is great that the Lakers have the luxury to have a guy like this off their bench, but there is something incredibly irritating about watching a guy with all that talent go through the motions as often as Lamar does. Nobody can reasonably expect great outcomes every night; but everyone can reasonably expect great effort from guys making $8 million….
Joel B. says
I’m in the minority with Funky Chicken about Lamar. While Lamar is unique, he is replaceable. Darius you brought up Milsap. Lakers would probably be just as good if not better with a guy like Milsap because he’s a better shooter, just as good of rebounder and provides energy 100% of the time.
My issue with Lamar is that in 6 seasons with the lakers, has lamar improved one facet of his game? He can’t go right or finish with his right, although he took more outside jumpers, he still a pretty bad outside shooter, and he doesn’t have a post move he remembers. With all that being saidm there are other things Lamar does extremely well. But the things Lamar does well are dependent on the energy and focus he brings on any give night and I’m sure we can agree that he doesn’t always bring energy and focus. I’m a bit mixed with Lamar, I give him about a C+ in his ability to be the leader of and ultimately lead the second unit. He seemed too often to fade in the background when the team needed his production and energy. Like Mimsy said he intentionally becomes a non-factor. Lamar can be an impact player whenever he’s on the floor because he can do so many things, but most of the time we just wonder what’s going on in his head. He can be a good and alert help defender, initiate the offense and grab boards like a man possessed, then other times he looks disinterested, floats around the three point line, plays terrible defense, and makes bone headed mistakes. Because lamar does so many things well, he should be able to leave an imprint on the game one way or another, win or lose. But to often fans wonder if lamar even played in some games. If lamar can somehow find more consistency in his energy and focus, he cut down the negatives and he’ll be the perfect 6th man. But the fact that lakers don’t ever know what they’ll get from him, it puts pressure on guys like Bynum to have to play through injuries.
Over the past few seasons I’ve been really critical of lamar, but only because I feel, as many others do, that he just doesn’t have that fire in his belly all the time. Darius and many others, have just accepted lamar for who he is, which is fine, but I just think he can have a more consistent impact for the lakers then he’s had over the past two seasons. I’m definitely happy he’s a laker and appreciates what he brings. But is wanting his energy and focus,not production necessarily, to be more consistent to much to ask for. They are going to need the lamar of the PHX series, not the boston series, if they face a team like the heat next season in the finals.
Millsap is an interesting comparison – a hustle guy, but generously about 6′ 8″. I do not think teams would struggle with the Lakers quality size if it was Millsap in that third big role. Also, Utah just picked up Jefferson to keep Millsap in that third role; when Bynum goes down, does anyone every worry about our replacement?
Other guys who makes 7.5 mil or more a year? Tyrus Thomas, Boris Diaw, Troy Murphy, Emeka Okafor, Dan Gadzuric, Sam Dalembert .
I also hesitate to comment on Lamar’s lack of production on “effort”. He’s always been a guy who plays a style that wants to incorporate others. And regardless of inconsistency, his averages each year compare favorably to Millsap.
Ultimately, the Lakers have the luxury of having a more talented player. There is a reason the Lakers have eliminated the Jazz in the playoffs; effort usually evens out, and talent/execution matter more.
F. Chicken, I think the things that drive you crazy are the reason L.O. is making what he is currently, as opposed to a max contract.
I also don’t buy that it is a lack of effort on his part It is just who he is. It’s how he is wired.
Imagine if he was wired like Kobe? He’d be freakin’ amazing. But he is not. The thing that makes him who is, well liked, team first, etc. is what also makes him the player he is.
To flip it around, it is like people who want Kobe to be more a team player and not go into ‘live by Kobe, die by Kobe” mode. That is part of who he is and why he has become what he is.
I love having Lamar on the team. There’s no way that back to back titles would have happened without his contributions. I get it that he’s frustrating sometimes, but the guy is going to go down in the annals of the game as a legitimate champion, and that’s in stone.
The problem is that he can’t be depended on. Too often loses his focus. Being “team first” does not have to mean that you should defer to your teammates, which is what he often does. While he is definitely a good piece to have on the team, he is hardly irreplaceable.
Great write up about Lamar’s importance to the Laker as a player, but I also think he helps the team as a person. The K-brothers refer to him as the “emotional center” of the Lakers by bringing joy to the team. It’s usually him doing the pre-game speech in the huddle (Fish is only used for the BIG games) while all his teammates around being pumped up for the game. His “likeableness” can’t be understated in helping out with chemistry of the team.
When I said “position on the court” I meant in regards to the Triangle being an offense that requires players to play on different spots on the floor; for the ability for players to be interchangeable. The fact is that Kobe and Gasol have the offensive games to play multiple spots, but the lack of versatility in Bynum’s game (this isn’t a knock on Drew – he’s a Center, I want him beasting on the block) means that those guys spend more time on the wing/elbow (Gasol) or the perimeter (Kobe). But Odom’s versatility means that those players float more often between nearly every “postition/spot” on the floor because Odom too moves fluidly between those spots.
Also, while I understand consistency, I think flexibility is just as, if not more, important. If I’m looking to put a team together – especially one that runs the system the Lakers do, I want my all world talents that are extremely consistent (Kobe/Pau), I want consistent role players that do one or two things very well (Ron on defense or Bynum as a post presence, for example) and then I want that flexible role player that can do a bit of everything that helps tie everyone together. That’s what Odom is for the Lakers. And while a more consistent player would be very useful, if he’s too one dimensional – and those dimensions are already covered by other players – you haven’t really improved your team. You’ve instead duplicated skill sets. The diversity of talents and finding players that can do multiple things well while also catering to the strengths of your best players is how you create teams that are greater than the sum of their parts.
And the Lakers run a system that looks to accomplish just that. For all the Lakers talent at the top of the roster, you still need guys that fill in all the gaps – Odom does that supremely. Again, this is where his value lies. To a lesser extent, this is also where Walton’s value lies. It’s funny but I don’t think it’s a coincidence that these are the two players that fans have griped about the most in terms of their salary (with Sasha also being in the mix) because their contributions aren’t always as tangible, but they’re just as vital to the teams success.
This Kobe article made me hunt down the 81 point game box score.
Check out that starting 5!
Kobe and Lamar. Smush, Mihm, and Kwame.
I like to revisit those days every once in awhile to appreciate what the Lakers have now. Also, a lot of what we wanted from Lamar goes back to those days, when everyone hoped for a Scottie Pippen, but we really had a Toni Kukoc on our hands.
These days, its perfectly fine for LO to be the fourth best player on a two-time champion. But its still hard for many to appreciate what he does well without pointing out what he COULD do well.
Brian Tung says
Count me in as one of those who think Lamar is, if not vital, at least pretty darned important to the Lakers’ postseason success. Chameleonic is exactly the right word to describe what he brings to the Lakers. And because of that, the Lakers can match up with ANYBODY.
Lamar’s worth is not really going to reveal itself during the regular season, which is about reliable production. We all agree that that is not Lamar. During the postseason, though, it’s all about matchups. What Lamar buys the Lakers is the ability to allow everybody else on the team to do what they do best, because whenever he’s on the court, he’ll do whatever the other four players can’t provide. There will continue to be times when it seems he’s just dogging it, but in general, when the playoffs hit, the Lakers are just much less exploitable with him in the line-up.
I realize that Darius just said much of what I did, but I think strongly enough that he’s right that I’m going to essentially repeat it. 🙂
We shouldn’t be obsessed over Lamar’s lack of offensive production; it is his defensive versatility which is his most important quality. He’s quick enough to help and recover, but long enough to contest shots and rebound the ball.
Yes, Lamar is more than willing to defer on offense, but it’s his defense which makes our team defense so effective. Just watch Game 7 of the Finals for proof.
Funky Chicken says
Make no mistake about it, I think Lamar is an important part of this team, and I understand what he brings to the table. However, as exhelodr in #18 articulated much more concisely than me, LO is not a player who can be counted on–and that is a dangerous liability to have in a guy who plays such an important role.
Darius, I agree with you about the flexibility that LO gives the Lakers, but that really is only a benefit if you catch him in one of those every other night games when he is playing hard. On the nights that he is “floating”, his versatility is surely not more important than a consistent and relentless rebounder and hustler like Millsap.
I guess I can more easily imagine other players “filling the gaps” that you speak of besides LO. I think one gap on the Lakers is the absence of a take no prisoners rebounding machine. A guy who matches his effort with his physicality. And, to belabor the comparison, a guy like Millsap.
It is undeniable that LO offers more versatility, but I’m just not at all convinced that less versatility but a heck of a lot more consistent effort and physicality would not be an improvement, or at least a wash.
That said, I appreciate your rationale, which at least sets forth a good argument for LO, as opposed to the mindless “we couldn’t win without Lamar” posts that so many others offer. That kind of “argument” routinely fails to consider what the Lakers would have in Lamar’s place (sort of like saying that the Lakers wouldn’t have won last year without Farmar, because he played well in the playoffs, without considering that Farmar could be replaced with a guy like Blake and immediately improve the team…).
Craig W. says
As anyone who has followed this blog for the last couple of years, I am as frustrated by Lamar’s inconsistency as much as anyone. However, the last two years have seen us win back-to-back titles. He must have come through when really needed or we wouldn’t have been winners both years. What we are really arguing about, then, is how we could have accomplished this by losing fewer games in the playoffs. Ultimately that is a frivolous argument and I think we can move on. Lamar is with us for the next couple of years and he is no longer paid close to a max contract. That should keep everyone happy.
Oh, and I suspect Caracter will grow into the Milsap type player – given a little time.
A slight pause to say “Cheers” for Funky Chicken and the others above for such a reasoned debate – i.e., why we come to FB&G.
It’s an interesting debate, and also pleasurable to follow the debate because of the, err, gentlemanly acknowledgment of each other’s points, etc. (As we all know, on many other discussion sites, the participants would have been long past the f-word stage by now 🙂
My two cents…and to add to what I wrote in the post: I 100% agree with you that LO is as wildly inconsistent as they come and his unique skill set is best utilized on the nights he actually shows up to play. Call me crazy, but Lamar has an incredible knack for making sure those “big nights” happen in some of the most important games of a season — in this season’s case, Game 5 against the Suns and Game 7 against the C’s. That certainly doesn’t completely absolve LO of blame for no-showing for much of the playoffs, but it does prove that Odom brings a certain gameliness to the table that isn’t always present in some of the more “consistent” players like a Paul Milsap. Like Kobe’s clutch shooting, Lamar’s uncanny ability to come through when this team needs him most is well worth his $8 a year. Bottom line: with the Lakers’ wealth of talent, they can afford Lamar coasting here and there as long as he flips his switch when necessary. During the last three playoff runs, you’d be hard-pressed to find too many times when that wasn’t the case.
i must say i am loving this funky darius exchange. this is way better than waiting for matt barnes…
oops, we can live without him. GO LAKERS!
I don’t understand how a player can be both unique and replaceable. I can’t think of another PF in the league with the same combination of size, speed, versatility, and skill.
Perhaps for his entire career, there is perhaps no other player in league from whom people have demanded more.
MORE, MORE, MORE.
People bash him because he seems to do so little with so much. Paradoxically, Lamar is great because he does more with less.
And less is more.
It’s because of Lamar’s low usage rate–#6 on the team–that guys like Pau, Drew, and Kobe grow and flourish.
He’s the reason reason the Lakers never have to sacrifice size for speed.
He facilitates the offense without dominating the ball.
He’s a PF with one-man-fast-break capability.
He has the fourth-best defensive rating in the league.
He’s a match-up nightmare.
He’s a dream glue-guy.
Lamar has an incredible knack for making sure those “big nights” happen in some of the most important games of a season
I’ve noticed that… and I have wondered more than once if this means that he actually isn’t inconsistent at all. After all, if we can count on him to show up in the most important games, at the most critical moment, isn’t that consistency?
And that in turn makes me wonder, if we can count on him to flip that switch whenever he has to, isn’t that in itself an invaluable quality in a player? I’m sure I’m not the only one who remembers the night in Boston where Bynum was injured, Kobe had stomach flu, and Lamar almost single-handedly won the game for us. It’s almost a clutch ability in a sense, to be able to switch into a higher gear at will like that.
Um. What Jeff just said, in other words. 😀
Totally off topic, but what a great article by Wojnarowski…
Be careful what you wish for…
Funky Chicken says
DonFord, right back at you.
Jeff & Mimsy, I’m not so sure that LO’s big games come in the most important games, but to the extent that this is true, I suspect it is because it is in the big games where LO actually exerts the most effort. But that is precisely my problem with him. Why not put forth the effort more frequently?
It is the rare player (and team) that can consistently turn it on when they need to, and this kind of approach smacks far more of Shaq’s approach to basketball than, say, Magic Johnson’s.
Perhaps I am forever “tainted” (or, to me, “blessed”) by being a San Francisco 49er and Laker fan from the early 80’s. I was treated to two of the greatest dynasties in pro sports history, and two teams led by players who gave their all virtually every game. I distinctly recall 49er players, broadcasters and fans alike badmouthing a Niner victory because the team didn’t play close to perfection. I loved that sense of going for the throat and expecting the best from yourself.
I know that it is rare to find a player or a team with that kind of drive, but the Lakers have several guys who play hard every night (Kobe, Derek, Ron, generally Pau, and I’d argue even Sasha when given the chance). Maybe that’s what makes LO stand out when he goes through the motions, but to me it is totally noticeable and thoroughly frustrating.
As for saving it for big games, the danger is that you may find that you can’t turn it on when you need it. LO had a miserable first two rounds (not games, rounds) in this year’s playoffs. Did he not feel that any of those games rose to “big game” status? After starting the conference finals with 2 strong games, he disappeared for the next two, making game 5 the next “big” game in his mind, I guess, so he played well again in the 5th game. But the team needed a pretty remarkable putback by Artest to win that game (at home) and avoid an elimination game back in Phoenix in game 6. That’s cutting it far too close for comfort, when giving maximum effort in games 3 and 4 might have given the Lakers a nicer cushion….
Anyway, I don’t want to belabor the point, and I’ve enjoyed the discussion and the give and take.
Off-topic, but just read that Dampier is probably going to be waived by the Bobcats. Do you think he would take the vet min to be a backup center on a championship team?
Both Caracter and Ebanks will be on the team come the season. Why send them to D-League? It’s better for them to be up with the team anyhow, and the team really needs both of them.
The most obvious reason is because we can sign them for half of what we can sign veteran players in order to fill out our roster of at least 13 players. Also, the upside on these 2 is enormous, much better than players like Josh Powell and Mbenga. I wouldn’t mind Mbenga actually, but the guy just doesn’t have a proper head on his shoulders. What the hell is wrong with this guy who chucks jump shot after jump shot when he is in the game. It is ridiculous to watch him play. Someone needs to sit him down and go through the basics, like: “dude, you are the 13th player on our roster. You’re 7 foot tall. We don’t have 13th roster spot players in the game to chuck up shot after shot. In fact, the only shot you should ever take is a dunk. I don’t care if the shot clock is running out, take the shot clock violation instead of chucking up another jumper.”
Back to Caracter and Ebanks, i believe both will provide solid minutes for us in the rotation. Remember that the NBA season is 82 games long. We need fillers. These two, especially caracter, are perfect fillers. Guys who can hustle, bang, and play with energy.
Caracter was an absolute steal, and there is little doubt that he is 1st round quality. The guy should be in the rotation in my eyes, probably the 4th or 5th guy off the bench every night.
I disagree that there’s a correlation between the flexibility Odom provides and playing hard. LO’s always going to be a PF that can handle the ball. He’s always going to be a 6’10” guy that initiates the offense. In every game, he moves well off the ball in a manner that occupies defenders and frees up space for his teammates to operate. And while none of these things directly lead to the accumulation of statistics or are the product of playing hard, they help facilitate the success of his teammates. I mean, aren’t Pau’s passing skills highlighted by being partnered with a front court mate that, at 6’10”, can find the creases in the defense, catch the ball cleanly (even when passes aren’t accurate), and finish on the move? Don’t Kobe and Fisher benefit from not having to bring the ball up court where they can move freely to their favored positions on the floor and set up in their sweet spots and be bigger offensive threats? These are only two examples of the domino effect that I mentioned earlier and they’re in no way related to him playing hard but still lead to the greater success of the team.
Believe me, I too was less than impressed with Odom in many playoff games this past season. Sometimes he just didn’t seem to be into the flow of the game. It was to the point that Phil called him out several times over the course of the second season. However, Phil is still one of LO’s biggest advocates because of what I’ve been saying in our back and forth: Odom is one complimentary player – and at PF to boot – that provides nearly every option on offense to be explored on any given possession. Not to mention what Zephid mentioned, which is the fact that with Odom on the floor the Lakers become a defensive team that can switch nearly every ball screen and not be outright destroyed on the P&R while still rebounding at an elite level. The man a lynchpin to success for the Lakers. And again, while I truly understand that his inconsistencies in effort and production can be maddening, his value still lies in how he can effectively play off of any other player on the Lakers roster and help to promote *their* success. Few other players in the entire league can claim the same thing and if they can, they’re the ones making 15+ million, not 8.
Also, just because it fits into the topic at hand, here’s a piece that Kurt wrote two seasons ago when LO led the Lakers in plus/minus even though he was a part time starter and still played third fiddle to Kobe/Pau. As Kurt says in the post, LO can easily have a bad stat line, but he still ends up doing a lot of little things that help to win the game. In two years, I’d say that LO is that same guy.
I think everyone seems to forget that last summer Lamar was being heavily recruited to play for the Heat. I for one feel personally blessed to have Odom coming off the bench instead of Lamar being the Heat’s 6th man. I have a feeling Riley would have let Haslem go and made sure Odom was the guy to stick around. Funny how things can change in a year.
Joel b says
I don’t think anyone(funky chicken) is refuting that Lamar can be a dominant player at times, or do things on the floor that contribute to the overall success of the team but do not show up in the stats. The point is that it’s so off and on with Lamar. Also I think Darius and Seljuk are overstating his defense. At times he can be a good defender and at times he’s absolutely terrible. Darius mention that when he’s at the 4 they don’t get destroyed in the pick and roll, well I think you have to look at the tapes from the conference finals in PHX. When phx put grant hill at the 4 he destroyed odom. There were quite a few times where Steve Nash ran the pick and roll and had Lamar going in circles because he was lost. Most of Channing Frye’s 3’s came when up against Lamar.
Lamar brings every one of those things Darius mentioned, but he brings them twice a week.
And funky chicken made an important point about the correlation between Lamar’s rebounding and overall production. If you guys simply look at the highlights from the finals, you’ll see that lamar’s highlights are hustle plays. So when he doesn’t play with effort, those plays don’t happen. Then Lamar to often defers personal responsibility for his play and says it’s a team game and that just because he doesn’t score a lot of points doesn’t mean he had a bad game.
I also think his producing when the lakers needed the most is overstated as well. Lamar plays best when others are having a great game because Lamar plays his best when he doesn’t have pressure on him to perform. Look at the first two games of the phx series. And Jeff and zephid, Lamar came in the fourth quarter of game 7 versus the celtics and made some huge plays, but he didn’t have a great game. He actually was responsible for some huge defensive lapses that lead to two threes in that fourth quarter as well. Is Lamar important to the overall success to the lakers? Of course, but he can be much better and if the lakers get a consistent effort and focus from the lamar, they’ll be a dominant team.
I’m unsure what you’re referencing when you say “Lamar brings every one of those things Darius mentioned, but he brings them twice a week.” I don’t believe I’ve mentioned anything about Odom’s game that doesn’t show up every night. Are you saying he initiates the offense twice a week? That by moving well off the ball he occupies defenders twice a week? That his ability to be a primary ball handler only happens twice a week? Even if you look at his rebounding, he averaged 9.8 a game and I don’t think that happened because he grabbed 3 rebounds one game and 17 the next game. Of players that played more than 10 MPG the guy had 15th best defensive rebounding rate in the entire league. He’s huge on the glass and that’s not a twice a week deal either. So, please, inform me of what aspect of his game that I mentioned that only show up twice a week?
I agree that odom has been indispensable to this team and its been great to see him develop a championship mentality these last two years – showing up in big games, staying tough when having bad games, and sacrificing scoring to be a facilitator and defensive player.
That said, I think some of what is being attributed to maddening lack of effort may be lack of skill. Sure he has potential, but Odoms greatest advantage comes from his length and quickness – but when matched up against players of similar agility/length like the ibakas and kgs of the world, his offense is limited because his options are taken away. He is a mediocre shooter and not especially adept at changing directions despite his dribbling ability.
Sure the potential is there, but the skill is not. Shaq would not be shaq without his agility, and lebron without his handles.
I also believe he is a consistent rebounder and defensive player. He has dramatically improved his defense and that’s something harder to notice as something ‘added’ to his game.
Wow, this is just a great thread for sure, I am glad that I took the time to read all of the comments, especially the Darius ones. Keep it up, I am also such a big, big fan of LO, and always have been. Where would we be without him? A couple of NBA Championships less, that is the answer.
Go Lamar Odom, the Lakers 6’10” PG, in a PF body…
Joel b says
I never said that Lamar doesn’t rebound consistently. That is the one thing that Lamar does well just about every night. His ability to bring the ball up court and initiate the offense is something he does every night, and it is an asset to the team. However, when it’s time to settle the second unit down and run the offense because he was the leader of the second unit he rarely did so. Odom almost never demanded the ball in order to make something happened when the second unit got out of hand and they stop executing and start giving up big leads. Instead Phil would bring Kobe or d fish back in the game to do so. Secondly you stated that Lamar occupies defenders. Yes Odom occupies defenders (most people in the league do) but Odom isn’t a consistent threat. He’s not a threat when he’s floating around the 3pt line. He really not a threat unless he faces up and looks to score(which is rare). But I do understand and agree that he occupies defenders when he slashing in the lane. Which proves my point that his success depends on the energy he brings and his activity, which is inconsistent.
Don stated that we may be confusing his lack of effort with his lack of skill. I’m not. I’m not harping on lamar’s numbers night in and numbers. I look at his impact. I do agree with Lamar himself when he says that we can’t always assess his games solely on stats. Lamar’s success is dependent how if he puts himself in a position to succeed, which is when he’s moving without the ball slashing and grabbing offensive boards. Not only does he benefit, but the entire team benefits when he has a noticeable bounce in his step. My point is Lamar doesn’t always have that bounce in step. Nor does Lamar, step up on a consistent basis. And I think too many people overate his defense. The lakers are a much better defensive team when Bynum is in the game.
I’m not trying to bash Lamar. I’m saying that he does a lot things well and is a big contributor to the success of the lakers, but his wildly inconsistent, even in the things that don’t show up in the stat sheet. Sorry if that offends some people. The fact that Phil has to consistenly tell Lamar, a 10 year vet, to get his head in the game speaks volumes.
Since the dawn of 2004, Laker fans have asked the question:
What makes Lamar Odom, aka the Candyman, so unstoppably inconsistent?
What makes his overall unstoppable inconsistency so unstoppably inconsistent?
Is it possible to inconsistently be inconsistent?
Is the answer to the question in a bag of candy?
We may never know.
And in never knowing, the unknowable is unstoppably inconsistent!
And two Laker Championships are unwinnable.
I think we’re dealing with a case of individual expectation. Odom is who he is. Whoever thinks they can get more out of him is just expecting what they can’t get. If he hasn’t done it in 11yrs I don’t see why or how he’d do it now. The media put the next-magic or next-pippen tags on him, causing us to expect more of him. They put these tags on him based on potential. But how do we measure potential? Who knows if he really has the potential people claim he has.? As Darius said he does what is necessary for this team to flourish and after 2 championships I can’t complain much.
As humans we always want more out of people and hence we miss appreciating what they actually bring to the table. Lamar is Lamar let’s just love him for what he brings to the Laker table…if he did something different his name will be Paul Millsap or Carlos Boozer and he won’t be playing for us.
Odom’s present is much like his history, and it is not nearly as rosy as suggested by Phillip or defended and portrayed by Darius. I remember watching Lamar in his early Clipper days before his outside game began to deteriorate. I caught glimpses of a player that was better than Kobe Bryant and much better integrated into his team than most superstars–only to see the Clippers refuse to give him a contract due in part to alleged pot smoking. When no other team made him an offer, Pat Riley rescued him and enslaved him at the same time with a long term excessive contract. His next and only star level year was with Miami. This star level performance occasionally reappeared when he became a Laker, often when Kobe was not playing, just often enough to confuse not only the Lakers, but the entire league.
Every year since then, Lamar has been made available for trade–and every year there were no takers. Some were well advertised, like the attempt to trade Lamar and Andrew for Kevin Garnett; or the almost trade of Odom to the Bobcats for Wallace. The last biggest attempt was the trade of Lamar to Memphis for Gasol–but Memphis wanted expiring contract Kwame–not Lamar. Lamar is still here, and I still doubt that any other team would have him.
So why not? Lamar is a tweener–not a center, power forward, or small forward–but a bit of all three. Sort of like Al Harrington–a pretty good role player–but where do you play him? A superstar like Kobe can play anywhere he wants–and every team wants him–but Lamar? Well, he passed from year to year on a contract too rich for any other team–a Laker by default.
Coming into his contract year, his stock was at an all time low. The Lakers had lost to the Celts, and Lamar had been owned and humiliated by KG. During the season, Lamar’s 3 point shooting remained close to the worst on the entire team, and “Oh no! Dumb” were frequently the comments just before an attempt.
Except, mysteriously, just when all hope seemed gone, the playoffs began, and Lamar started hitting threes, played great, and experienced redemption in the form of an NBA championship.
This last season, he pulled a Sasha, but he still can rebound–and he still can play those occasional games. Mimsy says that he can’t go to his right, and I believed it until I saw him make the right handed layup several times in a row. I doubt that there is any athletic move that Lamar can’t make if he wants. Unfortunately, he still has the annoying habit of missing one of two free throws in critical situations–sometimes both–except for that occasional game. He has made legendary passes that have ended up being caught by players on the bench, or bounce off the back of referees. He stands at the three point line on offense without the ball and plays toreador defense for three quarters, until he suddenly pulls down a defensive rebound and takes it coast to coast–and then proceeds to play the type of basketball that Darius and Phillip describe above for the rest of the quarter just because he can–sometimes.
I suspect that Lamar once again is on the trade market this year. Unfortunately, I think he’ll continue to be a Laker by defaut until he retires–so love him to bits if you must.
Craig W. says
drrayeye brought up something that we all need to remember — Lamar’s previous salary — negotiated by Pat Riley. That man is still impacting the Lakers.
Lamar is the person we have seen for the last six years. The good, the bad, the ugly. The one thing we as fans just couldn’t stomach in the past was his salary. He made 1st or 2nd banana money for 3rd or 4th banana consistency. Well, that issue has been remedied. Lamar is now paid at a level consistent with his talent and effort. Since his talent is so high and his consistency is so low this still balances out to a very good basketball living, but he is paid correctly at this time.
It is now time for us fans to stop with our Lamar baiting. Pick on Luke Walton, if you have to pick on someone, but leave Lamar alone.
#44. After all these years, I think you still undervalue Odom. Your take on him has always been mysteriously hostile and personal to this mind. If I’m reading too much into this, I apologize. But at nearly every turn of his tenure with on the team you’ve seemingly wanted LO to be off the Lakers and would give him away based off a supposed diminishing role that never quite did. I can remember your issues with his salary and your claims that his starting spot was someone else’s. How when it was time to re-sign him you’d rather him not come back unless he took the MLE (or even less) because no one else would want the scarecrow player (no brain) that made too many Odumb plays to be counted on. I still don’t get it.
Yes, I’ll love Odom to bits. Not because I must, but because he’s earned it. Believe me, when Odom was cast as the second fiddle in his first year with the Lakers and the team missed the post season, I had my negative thoughts about Odom. Would he ever be a true #2? However, the following spring he outplayed Shawn Marion in the Lakers playoff loss to the Suns. Then the next Spring he played with a truly busted shoulder when most others would have sat out. The Spring after that, the Lakers were on their way to the Finals with Odom playing a vital role only to see the entire team be overmatched by a more physical and mentally strong Celtics. As you said, redemption came with a championship the next season, but you left out the part about how Odom stepped in again for an injured Bynum. How, in the 2nd round of the playoffs he took a nasty fall against the Rockets and played the next game even though he rightfully could have sat out with what was described as a contusion the size of a grapefruit on his back and needing a wrap and brace to ensure he could get up and down the court. After underperforming for several games after that – but never once mentioning his back or being hurt – he raised his game again against Denver to help advance to the Finals and was huge against the Magic with his versatility and playing his best when it was time to eliminate the opponent. Again, he’s earned it. So, where you may see misfortune, I see found money. Hopefully, he does retire a Laker.
At his current salary, he would be a steal if he was as good as some of you seem to think. Have any other teams made serious offers for him this offseason?
The eloquence and respect in how Darius, Funky Chicken, Don Ford and others express themselves and debate is what makes FB&G so awesome. Thanks guys.
In regards to Lamar… if he stands to be our liability I’ll take that any day. There are probably 25 or so teams willing to take on our “liability”.
We wouldn’t know if there were any real offers for him. The FO is real tight lipped. If we’re going to talk about the speculation, I remember when people wanted LO for JOneal, Marrion, Artest was mentioned at one point. Anyone on the market playing SF or PF has probably been mentioned at one point or another in relationship to a trade to the Lakers. Who knows if there is interest from other teams. I think there would be from many teams, especially those that like to rebound and run.
47, Lamar is making about 8M this year. Other players making about 8M (or more) are:
Devin Harris (8M)
Jose Calderon (9M)
Andrea Bargnani (8M)
Leandro Barbosa (7M)
Luol Deng (11M)
Mo Williams (9M)
Anderson Varejao (7M)
Ben Gordon (10M)
Charlie Villanueva (7M)
Mike Dunleavy (10M)
TJ Ford (8M)
Corey Maggette (9M)
Gerald Wallace (9M)
Boris Diaw (9M)
Stephen Jackson (8M)
JJ Redick (7M, descending)
Kirk Hinrich (9M, descending)
Jason Kidd (8M)
Shawn Marion (7M)
David West (8M)
Emeka Okafor (11M)
Marcus Camby (8M)
Joel Przybilla (7M)
Mehmet Okur (9M)
Andris Biedrins (9M)
It’s not about whether Lamar is “worth” 8M or not; it’s whether Lamar is “worth” more than another player paid about 8M. Lots of players are not “worth” their salary, but somehow, they get paid anyway. It’s the nature of the beast when supply is limited; players will get “overpaid.” But relative to his peers, is Lamar “worth” more than these other guys? In most cases I would say yes.
In only one case do I think the player clearly outclasses LO, and that’s David West. With other players, things get a little more fuzzy. Yes, Varejao and Biedrins are more consistent players, better rebounders, and probably better defenders, but neither of them can initiate the offense, bring the ball up the court, or even shoot a decent jump shot. Boris Diaw and Corey Maggette are much better scorers, but both guys are defensively putrid and poor rebounders. Okafor, Camby, and Przybilla are bigger bodies, but we need someone who can play the 4 spot as a foil to Pau and Bynum.
It’s very similar to the Derek Fisher argument; Odom’s value is with our team, in our system. Outside of our team, Odom’s value is diminished because he’s just not the primary option that teams want him to be. But on this Lakers team, he fits in perfectly. He doesn’t need shots to be happy. He never complains about minutes (or about coming off the bench). He’s the consummate locker room glue guy. He never complained about playing through the entire playoffs with a shoulder injury. And who was the guy who stepped up when all of our other players were getting injured (including Kobe)? Lamar Odom.
Lamar needs your support and praise.
Let’s just agree that Lamar is Lamar–and we’ll never see anyone quite like him again.
I was one of the few here last year ready to cut ties with LO, if his asking price was too high. At the 8 mil range LO’s contract is worthy of his skill set and what he brings to the team. He will never be a superstar or the next great anything, potential to be has long past him by.
The team and the fans are lucky that LO was a free agent last year, when teams where not spending big money. The way teams are throwing money at players this year LO might have chased the money on his last big contract with someone else. I am thankful that he is who he is, and plays for the two time defending world champs.
Let’s not forget Lamar’s influence with Artest in the locker room since the two are childhood friends.
Also, Bynum is a Laker precisely because Odom is the ultimate insurance in case Bynum gets hurt. Without Odom, I’m pretty sure that Bynum’s future in LA would be curtailed as we would not be able to depend on him to be healthy. There are so many symbiotic relationships on this Lakers team To lose Odom would mean a lot of other moving parts would be affected. Love him or hate him, but he has been an integral part in 2 championships and 3 finals.
The ultimate issue with Odom is that people tend to project their expectations on Odom, and in doing so, people feel he “underachieves.” I don’t have much expectations for him to “realize” his upside or “grasp” at his potential. He is what he is, and though I have a hard time defining what exactly that is, I know I like it.
Having Odom on the roster is like throwing dices. When 7 comes up the Lakers are winning, however lately 7 did not come up often. The Lakers are better off trading LO for a less talented player but show up more often. The problem is every team in the league knows how inconsistent he is. It is easier said than done; besides it takes time to learn the triangle system. Every playoffs Odom holds the team and fans hostages. Everybody anxiously waits for him to have a good game which he does about every 3 games or so, therefore effectively makes his true salary about 27 mils a year. It is a shame to pay a player almost 9 mils a year and cannot count on him, even every other game.
Lamar Odom to me is the third most integral member of this team behind the two obvious pillars of the team. He is the ultimate third banana right now, although Chris Bosh looks to take over that title.
Now it’s arguable that Bynum is the better player, that Fish is more impactful as a personality, that Artest is more indispensible on the depth chart, and so forth.
But really it’s Odom’s versatility to make an impact in all those facets and his willingness to take a step back and let others shine in his place that makes him so valuable.
Also, his tandem with Kobe and Gasol makes for absolutely beautiful basketball so long as the floor is properly stretched by 3 point shooters which hasn’t been the case for much of this year.
Kogasodomy for life
As fans we are lucky LO is a Laker, and it’s great so many of us faithful realize this.
A new post is up. We’re reading more email and answering more questions.
I do not understand this argument of “never compains about minutes”, “never compains about shots”. He is the sixth man off the bench. He was a free-agent last year and he could have gone if he had found a starting gig somewhere. Nobody was willing to pay him even in the ball-park of the salary the Lakers gave him so he chose the Lakers. He is what he is – an overpaid role player.
Also, the argument that his “value is within our system” is also flawed. It is due to Phil’s genius that he is able to fit any player and maximize their value within our system. Tomorrow, if we had Anderson Varejao instead of Odom, Phil would find a way to fit him in and next year we would be saying that Anderson Varejao is an integral part of our system and we could not have won without him. This is the main aspect of Phil’s teams – how well he integrates players and creates teams instead of group of talented players playing together.
Regarding LO’s defense – Really? His defense is good? Did you see him against Phoenix or even in the OKC series and Utah series. I have never ever seen him take a charge and very frequently misses rotations. He fails to close out on shooters and is undersized against strong post players. From what I have observed he just hangs out near the paint and prevents penetration, but in one on one situations against HIS man, he is very poor.
You guys are underestimating Lamar. Lamar is one of the main reasons why we win important games. He is always getting key rebounds, scoring key points and playing lock down defense. There isnt one player on the list i would take over lamar and yes, that includes david west.