Lamar Odom won the Sixth Man of the Year award on Monday, and all is right with the world.
Rarely is everything completely right with the players who win this award. Otherwise, why would they be on the bench to start the game? Though oftentimes a team's prototypical sixth man is a squad's third-best player, even the best of sixth men often work as part of a retinue behind the team's one-two punch. The group of winners is filled with mercurial sorts. Tweeners who are too short to be shooting guards or crafty scorers too slow to fit in at small forward. Guys who might disappear for stretches before acting as the team's best player in a deciding run.
And, as a result of their charm, the list includes some of our favorite players of all time.
Toni Kukoc, for one. Jason Terry. Manu Ginobili and Kevin McHale. Bill Walton in 1986, and Leandro Barbosa in 2007. My man Darrell Armstrong and Pawnee's favorite: Detlef Schrempf.
And Lamar Odom fits right into that group. He's long been one of my favorite players, and who among us doesn't enjoy L.O. picking up a defensive board and bounding coast to coast for the lay-in or perfect dish? Especially when compared to Dwyane Wade's seemingly joyless way of getting to the free-throw line 13 times a night, or Dwight Howard's almost-there lefty layups. There are better players in this league, but the Sixth Man Award usually goes to the most interesting players. Such is life. Your favorite ex-girlfriend or ex-boyfriend is usually your worst ex-girlfriend or ex-boyfriend.
Beyond all that silliness, Odom can ball -- 12.4 points on 49 percent shooting, a 40 percent mark from deep and 10.2 combined rebounds/assists in 28.4 minutes per game (47 contests) as a reserve. Those numbers shoot to 14.4 and 11.3 overall, once you count his 35 starts, which many did in both voting for him (how many media members, TV guys, bothered to go online and look up his play as a reserve when the nice story was already in place?) or voting against him (many think that a Sixth Man Award winner should play a larger percentage of his games off the bench).
Unlike with other awards, the rules are pretty clear, 'ere. Odom had to come off the bench in more games than he started, and in showing up to camp in great shape and playing for the full 82, our man allowed himself the chance to fulfill that criteria. He was also a pretty fun watch along the way.
I should also point out that not even the NBA seems to know how to spell J.J. Redick's last name:
… making him the frontrunner for the "Robert Parrish" Award for the third consecutive year.
- Lamar Odom