10 Reasons Kobe Bryant and the Lakers Could Have Used Lamar Odom in the Playoffs

Imaz ACorrespondent IIApril 23, 2012

10 Reasons Kobe Bryant and the Lakers Could Have Used Lamar Odom in the Playoffs

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    Former sixth man of the year Lamar Odom was a huge part of the Los Angeles Lakers title runs in 2009 and 2010.

    This season, the Lakers are poised to make yet another run at a championship, this time without Odom.

    While the Lakers are a contender, there are numerous areas in which they are flawed.

    Many of these flaws can be attributed to Odom’s absence.

    Because of this, the Lakers could have surely used Odom’s presence in the playoffs in order to win another title.

    Here are 10 reasons why. 

Versatility

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    Perhaps the most vital attribute that Lamar Odom gave to the Lakers was his versatility.

    He had the inimitable ability of playing practically all five positions.

    He could take the ball up-court as a point guard, while also playing in the post.

    This versatility could have definitely helped the Lakers in the playoffs.

    Right now, the Lakers are somewhat predictable—every team knows that the offense runs through Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum.

    Odom could have given the team an added dimension on offense as a three-point shooter, penetrator, post scorer and passer—each of which are valuable skills.

    Odom’s versatility will only be made even more evident through the other reasons the Lakers could use him in the postseason. 

Depth

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    The Lakers lack depth at virtually every position.

    This could be problematic in the playoffs because it prevents Mike Brown from giving his starters quality rest during games.

    If Lamar Odom were on the team, this wouldn’t be that much of a problem.

    Currently, the Lakers have a thin frontcourt—Josh McRoberts and Troy Murphy are Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol’s backups.

    If Odom were on the team, the Lakers would have a reliable bench player who could fill in for either big guy.

    In addition, the Lakers don’t have much depth at the small forward position—Metta World Peace is inconsistent while Matt Barnes is nothing more than decent.

    With his versatility, Odom could help out by playing at the 3-spot, while starters get the rest they need.

Bench Scoring

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    It has become common knowledge that the Lakers have the worst-scoring bench in the NBAthey average 20.7 PPG which is 20 points lower than the league-leading Denver Nuggets.

    The Lakers lack of bench production may doom them in the playoffs for a couple reasons: Their offense can become predictable and the wear and tear on Bryant, Gasol and Bynum may become overwhelming.

    If Odom were on the team, this problem could be remedied.

    Off the bench, the former sixth man of the year scored 14.4 PPG last season while posting a PER of 19.4.

    This season, the Lakers’ best-scoring bench player is Matt Barnes who only averages seven PPG and has a PER of 15.32.

    That’s a pretty big drop-off. 

Offensive Facilitator

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    As a member of the Lakers, Lamar Odom was sometimes utilized as a point-forward because he had the unique ability of taking the ball up the court and facilitating on the offensive end.

    This season, the Lakers have a good passer in Ramon Sessions, but Odom would give them another option in the playoffs that would have made them even more intimidating and unpredictable.

    Odom made the players around him better as he was able to get the ball to Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum near the rim.

    In addition, his assist numbers were above average, according to hoopsdata.com

Efficiency

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    While Lamar Odom is often criticized for his inconsistency, he was very efficient for the Lakers.

    In fact, his field-goal percentage in 2010-11 was 11th best in the league at 53 percent and his effective field-goal percentage in 2010-11 was seventh best at 56.8 percent.

    During the playoffs, when Bryant, Gasol and/or Bynum aren’t completely on their game, Odom could be utilized as a consistent and efficient offensive threat that can score around the rim and knock down mid-range jumpers. 

Defense

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    While the Los Angeles Lakers were one of the best defensive teams last season in terms of defensive rating, they have become a very average defensive team this season, ranking 13th out of 30 teams in defensive rating.

    As a mediocre defensive team, the Lakers could really use Lamar Odom’s defensive abilities.

    In the playoffs, the Lakers are going to match up against scoring forwards and quick guards.

    At 6’10”, Odom has the size to guard bigger forwards such as Tim Duncan, Blake Griffin and Kevin Durant but he also has the quickness to defend guards—an ability that not very many have.

    Furthermore, in his last season with the Lakers, Odom had defensive win share (DWS) of 4.0, which was in the top 20 in the NBA.

    This season, Andrew Bynum has the highest DWS on the team at 3.3

Rebounding

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    When with the Lakers, Lamar Odom was extremely valuable for his rebounding.

    What differentiates playoff basketball and regular-season basketball is toughness, which is why rebounding is even more essential during the postseason.

    While the Lakers are one of the best rebounding teams this season, they could have possibly been even better with Odom on the team.

    Having the ability of grabbing eight to 10 rebounds per night, Odom had a defensive rebound percentage of 22.2 percent in 2010-11, which was the highest on the team.

    In addition, Odom was 11th in the league last season with 710 total rebounds. 

Chemistry

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    Lamar Odom was a Laker for seven seasons, and he became a respected teammate during his tenure.

    In fact, Odom was a beloved presence in the locker room.

    This chemistry was evident on the basketball court, too, for a couple reasons: Teammates clearly loved playing with him and the team won a lot of games with him on the roster. 

Leadership

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    While with Team USA, Lamar Odom became a vocal leader—a quality that helped him become a motivator on the Lakers.

    This season, the Lakers became infamous for lacking focus at crucial times during the season.

    Lamar Odom became a respected leader during his time with the Lakers, and he could help instill some focus and determination in his teammates in the playoffs—a time where lack of concentration is unforgivable. 

Experience

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    Lamar Odom was a part of many Lakers playoff and championship runs.

    This kind of experience could be useful in the playoffs because he knows what it takes to win.

    While the Lakers currently have quite a few players who have been to the finals, the more experience a team has, the better.