Forum Blue & Gold: The game against the Warriors was a pretty good example of the Lamar Odom conundrum. On one hand, in his 21 minutes Odom had just 6 points and 3 rebounds and was did not seem to stamp his imprint on the game. Then again, at the end of the day he was +22, the best on the Lakers. He leads the Lakers this season in +/-, good things happen when he is on the floor.

So, for fun I re-watched the game and just tracked Odom, watching him on both ends of the court. What I came away thinking is that the +/- numbers are no accident. Here are a few observations:

• He understands the offense very well and spaces out well, then comes crashing to the boards when needed.

He often is set up on the weak side of the triangle, and against the Warriors (as in many games) there was not a lot of ball movement to the weakside to take advantage of Odom and the spacing. (To be fair, against the Warriors that was in part because the Lakers got pretty much whatever shot they wanted on the strong side, that was not a defensive tour d’ force by Golden State.)

I think when the ball sticks, or when Kobe goes Kobe, Odom can be one of the guys who gets hurt the most in terms of touches. But sometimes he finds gaps.

For example, the last possession of the third quarter for the Lakers, the team is running and Ariza tries to feed Bynum for a fast break dunk, but it gets stripped and the ball is loose. Not shockingly Ariza outhustles everyone for the board, but while all this is going on Odom quietly slipped all alone to the corner, Ariza gets him the ball, Odom sets his feet and drains the three.

Then on the first possession of the fourth quarter, Sasha does his best Curley Neal imitation, but Odom finds a space in a gap and gets the ball on a pass, goes up and is fouled in the act. He does that a lot, he just doesn’t always get the pass.

• When he’s not getting touches in the flow of the offense, every once in a while he creates one for himself, and he can be a little predictable doing that.

Here’s an example. There are 40 seconds to going the third quarter, Odom hasn’t gotten a lot of touches and the Lakers need a fairly quick shot for a two-for-one. Odom brings the ball up court after an outlet, gets to the top of the key and decides its his turn, He starts a drive to the basket from the three point arc (with his man way off him), going left of course. It’s pretty easy to see it coming, and Turiaf has seen that plenty. He and smacks Odom’s shot back out to half court.

But Odom adjusted to what happened. And I think we overlook that aspect of him sometimes.

As an example, early in the fourth Odom brings the ball up court after a rebound and gets a little half-hearted drag screen from Gasol, fairly deep, but Odom uses it to attack the rim early in the possession. When the Turiaf comes again looking for a block Odom feeds back to Gasol who closes easily. He makes a similar play a couple possessions later, feeding Gasol when the defense collapsed.

• Odom really plays solid defense. Just a couple of examples.

At the 3:10 mark of the first quarter, his man, Brandan Wright goes isolation, with a spin move into the lane and shoots, but Odom’s length really disturbs the shot that misses. Biedrins outworks Gasol for the offensive board and Golden State starts again. This time Stephen Jackson blows by Kobe and Odom rotates to help, so Jackson dishes to Wright who is going in for the lay-up. Odom recovers and blocks the shot but gets some arm in the process.

1:10 mark of the First Quarter. Odom is part of a soft full quarter pressure, but just after half court he and Ariza trap the Warrior ball handler. That’s a lot of length in a trap, and the result is a pass that goes out of bounds for a turnover.

At 8:01 in the second. CJ Watson blows by Fish in the isolation and Odom comes over to help in the paint, while his man Write slides out for the 12-foot baseline jumper and Watson gets him the ball. Odom is quick and recovers and his closeout helps cause a miss.

At 6:25 in the second, due to rotations, Odom ends up on Beidrens. He does a good job staying in front of him and forces a miss from three feet.

Next trip down the court, Ariza is on Jackson and funnels the driving Jackson to the strong side help, in Odom. And Odom strips him for a steal and brings the ball up himself.

There is a lot of this throughout the game.

• With Farmar out, Odom is doing more ball handling with the second unit.

• A couple of Odom’s rebounds came because he simply outworked Turiaf for the ball. Not a lot of people outwork Turiaf for anything.

  • pr0mega

    Good research! What most Laker fans don’t understand are the intangibles… Odom brings things that not many players in the NBA can bring to a team. He’s long, smart and has a mismatch almost every night. Just because he doesn’t post triple doubles every night, does not make him a liability to our success. As Kurt pointed out, he really does do a lot of the little things, which is why our team is better when he is on the floor. Trading Lamar for some big name player would be a HUGE mistake for us. We’re 25-5, give the guys a break and quit with the trade talk, it’s childish.

    Lakers (WITH Odom) 09 Champs, you heard it here first.

  • 1ofMany

    Kurt, again, great write-up!

    Odom’s “potential” has always overshadowed the positive aspects of his game and what he brings to a team. Basketball, team basketball, is so much more than box scores (not that a career stat-line of 15/9/4 is too bad). People have to realize that its the small things… spacing, help D, “hockey assists”, comradery that really make a huge difference on this Lakers team. He does the things that go unnoticed by most and its nice to see that there are a few fans out there that understand his importance to this TEAM.

    I second prOmega… trading LO would be a mistake! Keep this team intact and let them prove themselves!!!

  • poi2u

    Finally some props for the much-maligned LO!

  • Nick Lachey USA

    Good to see some people standing up for Lamar. He does things lots of players don’t like to do (ie. the little things).

  • domz

    Nice read bro. But I cannot agree with outworking Ronny. Ronny is simply not a rebounding machine, as far as i know, he averages 2 rebs. a game only.

  • Whatsa

    Nice way of seeing the other side of the story, not just by his stats.

  • lamarr


  • Dracul

    Ok, this article is showing the positive side of Lamar – although you have to remember, this would be on a night where he was positive – now please do an article where he misses turn around hooks and generally disappears from doing anything productive.

    Now, I like Lamar when he’s focused, but from hearing him talking in post game interviews, he sounds like a former coke-head hippy. He has a tendency to space out some games – i dunno if he’s doing drugs or whatnot, but he’s just too inconsistent.


  • ben lee

    [Comment ID #57409 Will Be Quoted Here]

    offense is the last thing that we need, anyway, lamar should not be traded, he is 6’10” and handles the rock like someone who is 5’10”

    lamar is the only player in the league that can play all 5 positions

  • trade_lamo

    Lamar is not a smart player! And, f@ck the intangibles.

    Next time he takes those 3 pointers or the 20 footers that he never makes and your team loses by 3 points are you still going to think that the intangibles count.

    How many times have you this guy with a open lane to the hole that ends up with him fouling or charging his defender? How many times? He must go. If agrees to sign for 3-5 Mil a year next year and on I’d keep him but other than that get rid of him.

    He smokes too much weed. That’s why he acts and plays the way he does. No doubt!

  • Milo

    anyone here for picking up Erik Snow???

  • Smush Parker

    [Comment ID #57421 Will Be Quoted Here]

    Thank You.

    Once a pothead – Always a pothead.

    Review Lame-O’s performance in the finals. One good quarter – the rest? a no show.

  • sep08

    Lamar is a a player that fits really well with the lakers, he is great as an energy guy for the 2nd unit sort of like Ginobili but not as dominant. He always finds a way to contribute to the team aspect of the game as shown by his good +/-. I think lakers should sign him for 6-8M a year contract for 3 years along with ariza.

  • Billy Kupchak

    [Comment ID #57442 Will Be Quoted Here]

    you must obviously be a ganja fan yourself, eh? ;)

    Insanely Healthy Energy for TLN!

  • Billy Kupchak

    [Comment ID #57409 Will Be Quoted Here]

    actually, Lamar is one of the few players that DOES NOT have to score points to be categorized as an effective player. Unlike Andrew, Lamar DOES NOT have to fill up the box scores, so that he feels inclined to play on the defensive end of the court. :cool:

    Insanely Healthy Energy for TLN!