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The Lamar Odom Watch

Since it was officially announced that the Zen Master and Dr. Buss were back in business, the talk has come non-stop and 24/7 revolving around one subject: Can Kobe and Phil co-exist?  No, Kobe ran Phil off. No, Phil wrote a book and made Kobe come off pricklier than Martha Stewart. Yes, they're both pros, they both want to win. 

Yeah, if Phil and Kobe blow up, it'll be time for more face time for Mitch Kupchak at the Draft Lottery.  But assuming everything goes well- Phil and Kobe need to coexist, not become bridge partners- what they can do together is a known quantity.  In many ways, for this team to find success, Kobe isn't the most important player.

It's actually Lamar Odom.   

The Kobe-Phil saga is the sexier story, sure to dominate the headlines, but for the team to reach its full potential, Lamar Odom must reach his. If you judge purely by Odom's stats last season, the year doesn't seem like a disaster. And in truth, it wasn't. A career high in rebounds (10.2) and field goal percentage (47.3). Scoring (15.2) basically in line with his career numbers. Even a career low in turnovers (2.5). But that may not have been a good thing, as it reflects Odom spending considerably less time last season handling the ball than in the past.  If the Lakers want to reach another gear, that'll have to change. 

After watching Odom spend a season playing an odd, uncomfortable combo of undersized power forward and spot up shooter, it's easy to forget just how versatile this guy is. Outside of Garnett, there's nobody in the league at his height with that kind of all around game. He handles the ball like a point guard. He rebounds extremely well. He can go coast to coast in a minute. And most importantly, his passing skills are phenomenal. And with those skills at his disposal, it's a waste of everybody's time for him not to be facilitating the majority of the offense. It's the perfect role for a guy who seems like he'd rather pass than shoot, anyway. That natural fluidity will keep his teammates involved. And most importantly, it'll take much of the onus off of Kobe, who's often at his worst when everything's left in his hands. It's one thing for Kobe to take over at the end of the night. He's the best player on the team. He's the one you want holding the rock with the game on the line. But when he's left to do everything, or just thinks he's being left to do everything, the entire offense suffers, his own included. For this season to work, Kobe needs to be fed, as opposed to deciding when everyone else eats. And Odom should be the one with the spoon in his hand the majority of the time.

So here's the million dollar question: Can Odom make this work? That's what we're gonna examine throughout the season. Every couple of weeks or so, we'll be taking a look at Odom. How he's fitting into the triangle. How he and Kobe are playing together. How comfortable he seems. If the visions of him playing a point forward Pippen to Kobe's MJ seems closer to reality than wishful thinking. We'll try to get feedback from his coaches, teammates, and hopefully, a good amount of insight from Lamar himself. And by the end of the season, we'll have a detailed, in depth look at the player that could make or break the 2005-2006 season for the Lakers.

 
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The Laker Blog is a great idea!

So is the Lamar watch. I too share your sentiment that he is the first key in the Lakers getting to 45+ wins and/or the playoffs. Getting back to Laker respectability would be great.

I am surprised at how my Laker fandom has been re-invigorated by the return of Phil and the addition of Kwame. Actually, it's mildly frightening now that I think about it. We are banking on Lamar Odom and Kwame Brown. Not exactly a mortal lock.

I am geeked none the less.

One thing I am for sure on is that Kobe and Phil will be just fine. I truly believe that Phil is the one guy who can coach and cajole Kobe back to his status as the best, most complete player under 7 feet. Or at a minimum, a return to the All NBA first team.

The Kobe on the wing/block version of the triangle will be much more suited to his strengths that floating on the perimeter. Waiting for Shaq to make a decision and then having to shoot it with 2 seconds on the shot clock aren't ideal working conditions. If you think about it, Kobe thrived in an offense designed for someone else. My thought is that he is going to be deadly this year.

My last thought is that people have forgotten just how great Kobe was over the "five year run". Truly great. I always point to his dominance over San Antonio the year they swept them. It was on the way to title number two. I remember his rebound and follow (left handed none the less) to close out one of those games. He was transcendent. Not to mention all the other amazing things he did. He was the best player on the floor. Better than Shaq. Better than Duncan. Better at that moment in time.

There isn't another player in basketball who can put that on his resume and his best years should are ahead of him.

Thanks.

Go Lakers.

OK, I'll bite.
Lamar defintely has the ability to make a tandem work. It's in the head that it has to be worked out. Because, the defense will stop tripling Kobe and just doubling Lamar. As Manu, on the Spurs, has shown. It's what happens with your 3-4-5 options that makes the team dangerous.
But, not at the expense of the 1-2 options.
Lamar must make it work for the rest of the team to be succesful. Lamar needs to be the unstoppable number two.

Andrew and Brian, thanks for creating a blog like this. I was just in the process of creating one on another website for blogs, but now I can just come here.

I am, what you would call, a Laker fan by inheritance. My father is a Laker fan (has been since Lew Alcindor came to LA in the trade). I remember watching Magic win those first few titles in the early 80's.

As it relates to the upcoming season, I see an extreme amount of reasons to be optimistic. Since the arrival of Phil Jackson to LA (the first time), I have said repeatedly, that I would love to see Kobe in the Triangle playing the position Michael did. Phil never let Kobe play that position in the past, choosing rather to make him become the facilitator. He also, had a variation of the Triangle since Shaq was in the middle. Although the Lakers were successful, at times (especially in later years) they became very predictable which is not a normal element of the offense. That is one reaosn why they were so vulnerable as time went on.

However, in the upcoming season, they are finally going to have a shot to demonstrate the complexities of the offense with all its flexibility. First, Lamar will be the major ballhandler. I am tired of the remarks about Kobe not doing a good job controlling the ball. He isn't a point guard, he's a scorer. Why would you want your main scorer passing the ball all the time? Instead, you should have the offense designed so that he gets passes in his best positions in order for maximum output....that's the triangle. With Lamar handling the point/facilitator position, he will be able to utilize his natural mismatches. At 6'10" with his size, quickness and passing ability, he naturally has an advantage on just abotu every other 3-position player. Even Tracy McGrady is is at a slight disadvantage against him, because of Lamar's height advantage.

This will be the first key to the Lakers success. The next key will be the growth of Kwame Brown. Most of the criticism about him never includes the fact that he is still only about 22 years old. He is a young, extremely talented, growing big man in the league. No, he did not enter the league and produce like Amare has. No he hasn't been a Kevin Garnett. However, how many people have done that? Instead, I would put him in the group like Jermaine. He entered the league very young, and had a poor showing on his first team. Now on his second team, we will see the true quality of this player. IF he is able to produce consistent double-doubles on a nightly basis, that will solidify the post game for the Lakers. It amazes me how people are quick to criticize this roster noting potential production by players and the lack of high profile players. How many people were high on John Paxson before the Bulls started winning titles? When did Bill Cartwright or Luc Longley become major centers in the league?

The greatest aspect of the Triangle Offense as well as the "Phil Jackson system" is that if bought into, it maximizes all of the individual parts in team success. As for production, the Lakers didn't look impressive on paper last year, but they hit 100 points most nights. Defense was the issue, but defense was not Rudy's focus. It is for Phil though.

I predict that by the end of the season, the Lakers will be considered legitmate contenders for the WCF if not the finals. That seems a little far fetched for people, but it's all about following the plan. If they follow the plan, they will be successful.

I agree with everything you say about Lamar at point forward, but I believe the secret to the Laker's success is the grooming and insertion of Walton in as the point guard: Phil likes tall guards, he is quick and atheletic, he plays with reckless abandon, I have not seen a player go for loose balls like he does, since Rambis, you can correct me on this one, but his turnover ratio is probably the lowest on this team. Let Magic work with him a bit,the results I believe would be one of the fastest fast breaks in the league. He is a great rebounder, totally un-selfish, a lot of what he does in passing the ball reminds one of Magic, and one cannot forget his pedigree. You don't have to teach him to play defense, he is a Bulldog. He is a great team player with a wonderful attitude. Am I alone in this thinking? Veejay

I agree if the Lakers are going to do anything this year Lamar is going to have to step up and Kwame going to have to average at least 14pts and 9 rebounds.

This is definitely the most important question in terms of the Lakers success this year. L.O. can play and I was able to watch the Lakers live twice last year (against NJ and NY, I live in NYC)and was frustrated by the fact that he would make a few plays and then seemed like he was totally lost in the offense. Odom has been in the league for a few years now and it's about time that he puts it together and takes his game and the Lakers to another level.

Rightly said. Lamar will be the one to watch.
But I think he will be a great postup player if rightly used.
if phil can post Lamar, Mihm and Brown near the basket and mckie can bring the ball up, it will be a Kick ass combination.

Absolutely. Laker fate rests in the hands of LO7. As Laker fans we should be called fortunate, to have the ability to use a 6'11", versatile, strong, and immense court visioner like LO7. I remember when he came to this league with the Clipps I always claimed, "thats the next left handed Magic Johnson." He seems to have the ability to flourish as a leader, with unquestionable ball-handling and vision.
He will rise with in the Triangle, and having the greatest basketball mentors this game has ever seen (PJ, Tex, Magic, and Kareem)we will have the fortune to see a mans potential flourish at the Staples.
Do you guys remember MJ, Scottie, and Rodman (72 wins)!? I have faith in LakerLand, I truly expect great things to come, I don't see Phil losing.
I understand this is all about LO7, but I have to leave this here .... KOBE 4 MVP. The Suns were the surprise of laast years Western Conference, and a whole lot are predicting the Warriors to surprise this year. With this in mind, one thing should be said to conclude, "I can't wait to see the WCF showdown between the Spurs and Lakers!!"

With Walton out for a six week healing, I would like to see more of Jumane Jones. Should Odem bring the ball up, Jumane keeps the competition on their toes with his adept outside shooting. It spreads the other teams defense and allows more room for Lamar or Kobe to take it to the rim.

On defense, Jumane is another unselfish player who rebounds, blocks shots, and dives for loose balls.

5 shots in 34 minutes? hard to watch someone that is invisible...last night was pathetic from LO.

A great idea to create this Blog for all the laker fans to chip in their thoughts, and their worries!!
I strongly agree with everyone that Lamar is the X factor on this Laker team, but we are also forgetting how important it is to have a small, quick gurad too.
What we have now is a Smush Parker/Aaron Mackie (who are not small) guard combo at the 1-spot,and all the guards on the roster are 6-4 or taller, while we truly need someone in the 6-foot range to be an effective penetrater to complement Kobe's game.

Like Veejay's idea, but Luke should have started dribbling to the store, to movies, up and down stairs like Magic did since he was a kid. Think even he'd agree it would be a long season trying to get the ball up the court night after night against the water bug quick guards. I know what you mean though, he's probably a better defender than Magic was and he's got Magic like passing skills but there's more than that to being Magical. Magic and Michael were a generation ahead physically, always guarded by less physically gifted athletes for the most part. Today's game's got athletes pouring out of every locker room. I do think Luke's got the brain that could dominate if he got the pt which breeds the confidence to dominate.

i agree that Lamar has to step up, and Luke needs to stay healthy and get back in the rotation. what seems to be the killer for these Lakers is when everybody stops and looks to Kobe to do his thing, (sometimes a 1 on 3 which is futile). motion, constant motion is the key, and if you look back last year, one of the best guys off the bench for this was Jumane Jones, that guy come in with energy, so I hope the Lakes don't have him on the block, give him a chance this year, and Devean too, look, 22 pts last night, give this group a chance, we don't need another big name yet...

I'm happy to see that there's finally some excitement in the air for a successful Laker season. It's one thing to hope and wish that the Laker's make the postseason, but at least now they have a decent roster that can support that claim. Although I still think they have a couple more moves they need to make.

The key to the season will be team defense and the ability to come up with key stops at the end of games. Its obvious that they can score with Kobe or Odom and even Kwame now. But with the roster the Laker's have now, I don't see them blowing out many teams, so its super important that they can hold on to those 2-3point margin games.

Hopefully the team can stay injury free this season, and we can see the return of the Lak show!

I must say LO is such a versatile player that it makes it hard to key in on just one ability for him. I think he'll make a great ball handler and will feed the ball well to his team-mates. I'm just curious to see how he works after the ball leaves his hand. He going to sit outside the paint? He's got the height to post up anyone who's guarding him and I'm not to sure the position he's going to be playing will capitalize on this. He's got to bring the defenders to him, and if he doesn't post up, defense's will play his pass more than LO himself. By posting up, it forces defense to bring in a forward to help out that guard. That's the occasional double team we need on LO for openings to open up in the triangle offense. If lakers play the full court press well, like they plan, they need to get LO rebounding the boards. A third body like him in the box will definitely help out everyone's rebound percentages. I definitely love Walton, he's got potential to be a good roll. I'd like to see him be the 2nd ball controller after LO. Have him make that 2nd pass. I know my boy walton doesn't excel in making offensive points, but he can rack up those dimes. By doing this, it leaves #1 option brown down low for a post, leaves LO to move around and this is big. He's versatile, so let him move around freely. Let'm give'n'go, post up, post on top of the key and dish out. He can do so much and i'm afraid if he's stuck with the ball to long, he'll end up putting too much on himself. and last our star kobe which can do anything anywhere, as long as the clock is under 6 seconds. Kobe's got 3 jobs, Driving in the lane, jumpers/turn around jumpers, and 3's (in that order). Passing shouldn't be involved in his game,which i'm sure he'd love, if LO (and everyone else on the team) works the ball like they should. Only pass he should make is a pass back to the perimeter after driving the ball. Besides, kobe will be doubled in view. Meaning, they'll let him sit outside and watch'm because this triangle offense will hurt anyone who doubles in the outside.
Brown is a guy who's got a chance to stand out big on this team, a rodman hopeful, needs to do what rodman did, rebound. On both sides of the court. Take it back up strong after that rebound, or get back down court quickly (unlike shaq) to help set up the triangle. Lakers need to get this up by having 3 people crash the boards. either LO, kobe, or 5th but i'd prefer LO in it on defense, and kobe on offense.

I really like what I see with the second coming of Phil Jackson, this Laker team has a resemblance of the Chicago Bulls of the 90's, more than the last Laker team he had with Kobe n Shaq. Kobe/Lamar/Kwame is like Jordan/Pippen/Grant of that Bulls team. With Phil and Tex guiding them, it's exciting once they get accustomed to the offense and defense. Devean, Luke and Aaron will be a big help off the bench as well. Hopefully, it comes sooner than expected so we can all be joyful once again in Lakerland. Thanks to Jerry and Jeannie Buss for putting this!!! Also thanks to Scottie and Kareem for coming over.

would someone tell me when the lakers are going to be on tv i'm suffering from laker withdrawal havent seen them play yet.the last time i went to a game wilt chamberlain was the center so you know ive seen a lot of games on tv.i live and die with the lakers and last year was one the worst years i've suffered through but this year will heal everything.I like our new team.my wish a no injury year and to play in june

Yes, Lamar is essential to having the boys be a solid team; yes he MUST learn how to be a bit more "selfish" and take some shots. 5 shots in 34 minutes from your #2 offensive threat is unacceptable as a consistent rule. The boys biggest areas of need are 1) playing hard each night like a team; 2) playing D. The current roster is not littered w/great individual defenders except for Kobe. Kobe however will need to reduce gambling for the great play, stay @ home more and rotate to help out as Kobe is the quickest of the bunch. This team will need to take on the team D mentaility- rotate, cover and be physical. They have size; what they will need to bring forth is the ferocity of will of D-- like the Showtime teams had; like the recent Lakere championship teams had and what Detroit has. If the committment to D emerges, then this team will get easy buckets which opens up the triangle to being even more effective. Riles had a quote during Showtime: No rebounds, no Rings. In other other, be aggressive, D up, create missed shots and as Keyshawn Johnson would say, rebound the damm ball It took the Showtime boys time to learn this concept... Boston used to abuse the boys in the finals (Mchale's clothesline of Rambis for e.g.)until the boys got it: be tougher and when they did, championships emerged. Same w/Shaq/Kobe era- great D teams. LO will need to resemble Horry and use length to help and recover... I look for upper 40's in wins and some noise in the playoffs this year. Next year, content for the Pacific Divison. and potentila WCF. By the 3rd yr, being amongst the league elite and in the finals.

The Lakers will win 55 games this year. The current roster will be more successful because they will use the offense to shoot more free throws than their opponents and if they play more cohesive TEAM defense they will get more points off of turnovers and 4-point turnarounds. I don't agree with the comparisons to the the 90's Bulls teams, but more with the Celtic teams of the 80's with Kobe becoming Larry Bird and Lamar using his mismatch advantages just like Kevin Mchale did. Watch for Von Wafer, he may become the backcourt defensive stopper this team needs.

I love Walton's attitude and court sense, but he is NOT quick and athletic. WHere could you possibly see that? He will never fit in as a starter with this team; to play much he needs to be a small forward with a team that doesn't need much scoring or defense out of that position, and that is not the Lakers. I agree with Mark that Odom has to be more aggressive. They really still need a reliable third scorer; have to see who will fill that role.

I agree with everyone that Lamar Odom is the key. He needs to put in one of those all-around games for the Lakers to be successfull. I'm not really sold on Kwame Brown...even though it's pre-season, I don't see the desire for rebounds or any true post-up moves. So it'll be up to LO to provide the extra rebounding and rotational defense. What was so frustrating last year was that Chucky Atkins was beaten so often off the dribble that LO had to rotate over to block the lane and he got in early foul trouble, eliminating his effectiveness on offense.

With a better back court defense (meaning no Chucky Atkins), Lamar can worry about his man and defensive rebounding. It's a great idea to have LO bring the ball up, not only to rest Kobe, but also to get Lamar involved early and often in the offense. One of his weaknesses is the inability to move without the ball. He tends to watch the offense when the ball is not in his hands. By having him bring up the ball, utilizing his above-average court vision, there will be better fluidity in the half-court game. One underrated factor in LO is his defense. He was one of the few players who played defense on the Olympic team in 2004 and it carried over to the regular season. Not having that summer off really affected his game in the spring of 2005. With the entire summer off, I see LO with a lot more energy.

Lastly, I really hope that a little of Scottie Pippen rubbed off on Lamar in Hawaii. He has the physical skills to really stand out. If he can average 18 pts. 7 reb. 6 ast. a game, I see this team winning more than 45 games.

To be honest I don't think LO is the key. He will put up some decent stats this year like every other year. The key in my opinion is Kwame and Chris. If Kwame can get better and Chris stay out of foul trouble, then the team will be better off.

Well I believe the laker will be much better defensivley. They can put up points with best of them. Thats not their problem it's the defensive intensity they lacked last year. everbody was talking about what Denver was ging to do last season. They were a bust until George Karl came on board. So I won't make any obserd predictions but I will say the Lakers will be a much Improved defensive sqad. lastly it seems all in the Lebron, Wade hype kobe is not getting his proper respect. regardless of the allegations he's still the best guard in the game. Can shut down a player if he wants and can score against any defense ask the Spurs of '01,'02,'04 lol.

Pippen hit key shots from outside the arc; LO has no shot outside ten feet. Pippen had quick moves and monster hops; LO moves like his shoes are made on concrete. Pippen had Grant then Rodman at the four; Brown gives you Rodman's mental state with Grant's numbers. Kukoc came off the bench for Pip; J Jones and George will do the same for LO. Paxson, Kerr, BJ, and Harper played opposite MJ. Bobbit, Parker, Wafer for Kobe. May the gods be merciful.

Well I agree with that statement. The bulls of the 90's were a great Championship team. Most of all UNLIKE most dynasty's that team stuck together and only got better. If only Bob Kraft of the Patriots and John Henry of the Redsox would do the same. I think Phil is the Best coach in the game it's harder to win consitently with a great player year after year. Larry brown is second in line. Phil kept everybody level headed on that Bulls squad of the 90's. lastly Kobe is in no way responsible for Shaq being traded. If hat were true Phil would not be back and Kobe would not have re-signed. Wade will never be on a Kobe level until he can develop a consistent jumpshot like all the all- time greats. Teams will key in on him and stop his penetration into the lane and force him to shoot jumpers and with a %23 three point percentage thats not going to get it done!!

1st topic---Walton is a TWEENER (in btwn a guard & forward). In Phil's offense he could bring up the ball at times, but not our starting pg (I like him as our 10 to 12 min guy). He has no outside shot and may never have one. Can you see him defending the 3 position the 4? the 1? Thats why he will never play 30 min+ in the NBA.

2nd point---Odom misses too many layups...he's not a FINISHER. Showtime Lakers had some of the top finishers in history (Wilkes, Worthy, Nixon, Scott, Cooper, Kareem, Magic...shoot even Rambis later in his career could finish better than Odom). If he closes the deal and improves his free throws we're in the 48 to 52 win level.

Finally---Kwame WAS a steal, 23 yrs old, can play power or center. Very athletic and he'll listen to Kobe and Phil. In a couple seasons we'll have Kwame & Bynum in our starting front court...SWEEEEET!

Prediction-------Lakers will get the 8th spot.

As much as I love Lamar,I think he will never truly fullfill his expectations and potential unless he becomes a consistent outside shooter.Everyone plays off of him and for him to drive to his left. He also needs to learn to create contact when he drives in,but that is more instictual and at 26 I don't know if can really master that anymore. What I think he can do though is really focus his workouts on his shooting. For those who hope that Lamar could be Pippen,remember that Pippen and Lamar are not even in the same League as for as shooters.(that message goes to you too Phil)

If Lamar is ever going to be even compared to Scottie Pippin, he has to step-up his defense! We keep comparing Kobe & Lamar to Michael & Scotty but we (or they) need to keep in mind what great defender's they were. I feel Kobe can definitely step up his defense close to Jordan but Lamar compared to Pippen? Not a chance. Lamar has to make MAJOR defensive strides before I would ever consider him close to Scotty! When we speak of the champs of Chicago we need to remember the entire teams defensive prowess.

good job Lamar!!! thank you for playing hard and helping the lakers got this far in the playoffs. just one thing, you cant save a timeout in the bank....learn how to spend it..ok?

LAMAR I DON'T CARE WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT YOU BUT I'M 16 YEARS OLD ON DECEMBER 18. I JUST WANT OT TELL YOU, YOU ARE MY BEST PLAYER OF ALL AND ONE OF MY WISHES IS THAT I WANT TO SEE YOU PLAY ONE DAY AND MEET YOUR FAMILY BECAUSE I LOVE YOU SO MUCH. I PRAY EVERY NIGHT THAT I CAN SEE YOU. I DON'T WANT YOUR COACH, YOUR TEAM, OR YOU MANGER TO READ I WANT YOU TO READ IT AND I HOPE DAY FOR MY BIRTHDAY I COULD SEE YOU. LOVE ALWAYS YOUR BIGGEST FAN. JACKSON, MS

Lamar - the best guy!!!!!!! i like ya;)


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