Lamar Odom should remain a reserve
The changes between Phil Jackson and Mike Brown involve scrapping the triangle offense, adding a dose of pick-and-roll sets and sprinkling in more accountability on enforcing the Lakers' defensive scheme.
The coaching transition could bring further changes in the coach-player dynamic with Kobe Bryant. It might force Derek Fisher into taking a reduced role. Whenever the current NBA lockout ends, it might involve the front office making tweaks to the bench. According to Lakers.com's Mike Trudell, it could entail adding some zone defense, too. Should Brown follow the thinking of USC women's basketball coach and former Laker Michael Cooper, perhaps it might involve pushing Lamar Odom into a starting role.
"You got to start Lamar Odom," Cooper told ESPN Los Angeles' Brian Kamenetzky. "That's a very formidable and versatile front line. I'd go three bigs. You look at Lamar. He's still a big but he's not going to be in the way at the low post. Every now and then you can pop [Pau] Gasol out and post LO when he has a mismatch. I think those three in the front line. I think if Coach Brown goes that way, it would be very successful."
Actually, it would likely be disastrous.
82games.com listed a triple-tower lineup featuring Gasol, Odom and Andrew Bynum as the 10th-most effective lineup combination when used in the 2009-10 season.The Lakers lost Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Dallas Mavericks with Odom starting for a suspended Ron Artest, resulting in an imposing offense, an exposed perimeter defense and one tired lineup.
Odom can thrive wherever he's put on the court, but the rest of his teammates don't operate that way. While Odom could give the Lakers an unstoppable triple-tower lineup, the Lakers would be less equipped in other areas.
They'd lose Artest's presence in stopping the team's best player. The Lakers would be less suited in defending outside shots. Opponents would be more inclined to pack the paint, testing whether the Lakers truly can hit three-pointers. Who will be equipped to lead the Lakers' reserve unit?
Nothing against Odom, but he won the NBA's sixth man of the year award for a simple reason. His versatile skills allowed him to thrive in any position, at any role and in any situation. There's no point fixing something that isn't broken.
-- Mark Medina
Email the Lakers blog at firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo: Lakers forward Lamar Odom should continue coming off the bench. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times