Five things Lakers miss about Lamar Odom
Here are five things the Lakers are missing in the wake of Lamar Odom's departure:
1. Locker room presence: Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher have commanded the most respect among the Lakers in recent seasons. But Lamar Odom was the one everyone felt close to. He has a playful and down-to-earth personality. He genuinely interested in all people. And he has a sense of humor that helped break up the monotony, particularly on the road.
2.Versatility: One of the struggles Coach Mike Brown admits he's facing involves finding the right rotations. NBA StatsCube shows that Brown has used 13 different rotations. I hesitate to read too much into which combination is most effective for two reasons. First, the database hasn't updated the lineups featuring Darius Morris.
Secondly, the most efficient lineup combination technically involves Steve Blake, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Luke Walton and Pau Gasol. Too small of a sample size (12 minutes) and that efficiency would never hold up. Regardless, it would have been easier for Brown to mix and match rotations involving Odom because he is so talented at playing small forward, power forward and center. Regardless of Odom's poor play in Dallas, the void left on the Lakers has resulted in the bench averaging 21.3 points per game, while ranking 26th overall in efficiency.
4. Bench leadership: Early returns on Steve Blake's performance shows he's improved his shooting and gained confidence. But with the Lakers reserve guard sidelined for at least three week because of a rib/sternum injury, the team's bench lacks a formidable leader. Brown touted Metta World Peace as that candidate, but his erratic play and personality hardly suggest leadership, something Odom would've provided with his veteran presence and multifaceted skill set.
5. A valuable trade chip: The Lakers miscalculated in trying to trade Odom for Chris Paul. But Odom's remaining $17-million deal for two seasons hardly is expensive for his skill set. Say what you will about Odom's poor play as of late, most teams know he rarely performs well at the beginning of the season but sharpens up as the season progresses.
-- Mark Medina
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