Thu Oct 02 11:35am EDT
And if he realizes that, it could go a long way toward securing his legacy.
Last week, Phil Jackson mused aloud about bringing Odom off the bench, and starting Trevor Ariza, a move that makes perfect sense providing that you have knowledge regarding Odom's game, Jackson's offense, and the makeup of the Lakers. But because the words "not starting" and "Lamar Odom" were involved, Lamar Odom took offense.
And he shouldn't. Because this could turn his career around. And, to paraphrase Odom, Jackson isn't "out of [his] ... mind."
Lamar Odom needs the ball to be effective. He needs the offense to run through him, and even if LO isn't taking the most shots or piling up the assists, the guy needs to be an offense initiator if teams are going to milk Odom for what he's worth.
Stats aren't the benchmark, here, because Odom can be the biggest reason an offense starts to burn white hot without even scoring the points, or by making the pass that leads to the assist.
And Lamar needs to dominate that ball. He can't just be a typical small forward, alternately trying to score from the wing or spotting up as a third option.
Problem is, on a team with Kobe Bryant, that's never going to happen. And it shouldn't, because Bryant is amazing, and he needs the ball to be amazing. He also understands Jackson's offense better than Odom.
A bigger problem? Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum also need the ball. Not because they're selfish mugs, but because 7-footers with skill who can create high percentage shots need to be given the opportunity to create high percentage shots.
Which leaves Odom out of the picture. And when he's out of the picture -- and I want to make it clear that I'm not talking about Lamar moping through possessions that he isn't involved in -- the guy just isn't himself. It's wasting his many talents.
Kobe's not going anywhere. Pau and Bynum are healthy. So what do we do?
Put Odom on the bench.
(Or, let's put it another way: "Make Lamar the focal-point of the team. The second team." Does that scan better, LO?)
Bring Odom off the pine and absolutely run everything through him. Any combination of the Kobe/Pau/Bynum triptych could still be on the floor, but Odom would be initiating Jackson's offense from the backcourt, and running the show himself. Jackson's already tried it with Odom in the starting lineup, but that's just a waste of Kobe, Pau, and Bynum's talents. Odom needs to fall in line, and I think Jackson knows that.
Now we need to get Lamar to, um, "know that."
Look, you don't need a point guard in Phil Jackson's offense. Triangle freaks will tell you that having Odom run the show as a starter with Derek Fisher merely spotting up offensively (his greatest offensive talent at this point, no pun intended) and defending the opposing point guard works just fine. But with Kobe Bryant on your team? Don't do it.
Kobe needs the ball. He can play small forward, but limiting him to a wing role, turning him into Paul Pierce, won't work.
This isn't akin to Scottie Pippen running the offense with the Bulls, because Pippen was more effective offensively working off the ball or coming to the rescue when the play or the offense broke down late in the shot clock. Odom doesn't have that familiarity, and though he's been working in the offense since 2005, I don't think he'll develop that knowledge any time soon. It's a tough offense, you have eschew instinct, and I don't blame him for not naturally understanding how to run it.
But I also wouldn't cut off my nose to spite my face, ‘ere.
So start Trevor Ariza. And let Odom run the show off the bench, in more of a typical NBA offense. This would make Odom come around eventually, it would help your team, and it also means you take full advantage of Kobe, Pau, and Bynum's talents.
And if Lamar steps back and gets his head on straight, he'd realize that it would be taking full advantage of his talents. Here's hoping the noggin straightens out.