In a picture, this is Odom and trying to play him at the 3:
My take on this one:
Though Lamar will be defending the "3" or "SFs", he is going to be playing the off-guard in the triangle for a majority of the time (most players spend a little time at all the triangle positions depending on the situation). That is, Lamar is going to be playing weakside, opposite of the sideline triangle, waiting on ball reversals when defenses flood the strong side. As the off-guard, his primary duties are ball-handling, entering the ball in the high post, operating the two man game, cutting, and shooting off-ball. I'll address each of these issues individually.
When matched up as a 3, Lamar Odom is not a strong ball-handler. This is not a secret or a mystery. In the playoffs, against San Antonio and Boston, the Lakers offense stagnated for long periods of time because the team lacked dribble penetration and players who could create their own shot. Unlike most teams, our offensive attack has no scripted plays headed toward the hoop. The primary goal of the offense is to get a lay-up or a post opportunity for our best scorer on the low block. Because of that, we need players who are capable of breaking a defense down through the use of their own talents and perhaps a pick in the two man game. Fisher is not capable of providing this ability. Bynum and Gasol are certainly not capable of providing this ability. Though Gasol, at times, is an extremely skilled shot creator on the block, he's going to spend more time in the high post spacing the floor. Why? Because Bynum doesn't have a reliable jumper and playing him high closes driving lanes for Kobe and makes a two-big double on the block easier. Lamar, as a 3, is equally inept taking a defender off the bounce. In essence, by playing Lamar at the 3, we are asking Kobe to be primary and SOLE dribble-penetrator on the team (with the exception of Farmar on the second unit). He is also the only player on the floor who can consistently create his own shot. This is poor floor balance.
To make matters worse, Odom does NOT open lanes for Kobe to drive with his shooting (like Rad does). He, in fact, closes them. By playing Odom on the perimeter, we essentially hand defenses a Rondo card -- they can play as off of Odom as they please. This hurts the team in so many ways that it cannot be summarized with numbers or text; you have to watch the games to see it take place. I'm sure we haven't forgotten Odom's benchings during critical stretches in the Finals and other games. For those who noticed his negative effect offensively during the Finals, this will only be amplified when he plays on the perimeter. In the mid-range, Odom commanded some level of respect this year. From deep, he didn't. Expecting a player who is known for failing to expand his repertoire to add a significant piece to his game in one summer, is borderline lunacy.
That said, Odom WILL excel as the spearhead of the two man game. He is an excellent PnR player and will maximize Gasol and Bynum. Odom is most effective in this manner -- when he playings to his teammates strengths. I also believe he will be a better post-entry passer than other players we have previously employed at the 3 (well, specifically VladRad).
Though Odom has a clear size and length advantage at the 3, his cutting will be poor for several reasons. Defenses will be playing off of Odom initially. This makes taking a defender back-door almost impossible. The defender has a head start. In addition, he simply won't be as fast as the 3s who are going to be guarding him. The nail in the coffin here is his poor finishing ability around the rim. As a 4, when he beats his man he only has to finish against a 5. However, as a 3, if he beats his man, he has to finish over strong side help and possibly weak side help as well; he has to beat the 5 and maybe the 4 as well (or visa versa).
If Odom remains a Laker for the up-coming season, I expect him to be a valuable piece, but not for his play at SF. Rather, he is our ONLY quality back-up big man. Though he should still see some minutes next to Bynum and Gasol, (preferably most of his minutes would be next to them because having him play with the bench for a majority of the time defeats the purpose of a starting line-up, but he will not be most effective in the starting line-up next season IMHO) I would expect a majority of his minutes to come at the 4 spot. With our current logjam, we can't keep everyone happy if Odom is playing big minutes at the 3. Because of Odom, if he's still here, we won't need to play scrub big men for 20-30 minutes a game.
All that said, I still advocate trading Odom for the proverbial "better fit". I'm not looking for a "big name" or a flashy acquisition, but rather someone who can better sustain offensive continuity and give greater help on the defense end. The team would be much better off with another player who can consistently penetrate, create his own shot, and sink the long ball. Even if the player is only capable of playing solid defense and knocking down his open threes, he is going to significantly improve the team's defense, spacing, and thus floor balance.
For those saying, "look how good Odom was as a 3rd option! Just wait till he's a 4th option!" Ask yourself, "How did Odom help as a 3rd option and how will he help as a 4th option in his new role?" To answer the first question, Odom was an extremely versatile interior defender. He grabbed boards and banged bodies with guys like Perkins while also matching skills with players such as Dirk. He pushed on the break after collecting defensive rebounds -- sometimes going coast to coast for a lay-up or two foul shots. As a 3, this versatility is virtually gone. He's going to get far less rebounds which means far less opportunities to lead the break. Even when he does lead the break, he is going to have to beat 3s off the bounce, which is unlikely to happen consistently. He must stay in front of players who are simply quicker than him. To quote Tex Winters, "Odom has the worst sliding mechanics I have ever seen." That is a strong statement. Simply put, Odom isn't quick from side to side. Guys like Pierce? They are quick from side to side; quicker than Odom. Odom did most of his scoring around the rim. Odom was around the rim most often when he was crashing for boards, cutting after beating a fellow, slower PF, getting a post opportunity, pushing on the fast break, but he also sank the occasional mid-range jumper. Of all the scoring opportunities listed, only cutting, pushing on the break, and the mid-range jumper will still be available. However, he will get LESS mid-range jumpers because he is going to be stationed further out from the hoop and spend more time off-ball, he is going to get LESS rebounds because he has to get back on defense (only bigs stay back to board), he's not going to score as much off of cuts because he will have a harder team beating 3s off-ball than he did 4s, AND he's simply going to be around the hoop less (the place where his %s are highest).
Odom brings a lot to the table, but trying to pigeon hole him into the 3 position isn't going to work, according to many of our opinions, because he is going to be FORCED to play to his weaknesses:
-He doesn't cut well and now his job is even harder in this area
-He's a poor shooter and this is where most of his looks will come from as a perimeter player
-He can't penetrate to the hoop with frequency and now this will become more difficult against smaller, quicker defenders
-His rebounding responsibilities will decrease because he will spend more time on the perimeter
-His passing will be less important and he plays more and more off-ball.
Again, Odom is a solid player who brings a lot to the table, but he doesn't fit the triangle as the 3 and he positively will hurt the floor balance if we plan to play him significant minutes at that position.