L.A. Lakers: Can Antawn Jamison Help Fans Forget Lamar Odom?

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L.A. Lakers: Can Antawn Jamison Help Fans Forget Lamar Odom?
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

Lost in the good feelings of the recent Steve Nash signing and the constant Dwight Howard speculation is the fact that the Los Angeles Lakers managed to acquire their most prolific bench scorer in some time.

The Lakers answered their lead guard questions, at least on the offensive end, by dealing for Nash. Antawn Jamison's under-the-radar one year deal should have the same effect on the Lakers dismal reserve unit.

Jamison's 17.2 points per game average in 2011-12 is nearly half of what the Lakers bench unit averaged combined. Jamison ranks as the highest scoring double-digit reserve to wear the purple and gold since Lamar Odom left town, and then came back in different colors.

Even though Odom is a Clipper now, he probably still holds a special place in the hearts of Lakers fans due to his affable nature and amazing skill on the hardwood, even if his potential was never fully realized.

I have often described Odom as the most versatile player in the NBA, and while fans of LeBron James will rightly take issue with my theory, I do have some supporting points to back up my argument.

James has shown that he is athletic enough and physically strong enough to play all five positions on the court for periods of time, but Odom can do the same thing and he has natural length.

Odom is listed at 6'10", but he looks closer to seven feet in real color and he has the ball-handling skills and court vision of a point guard.

It's hard to game-plan for a player who can block your shot in the paint, grab the ball, then dribble it the full length of the court and finish the play with an assist or a score, all as a full time power forward.

Despite Odom's enormous reservoir of talent, he has never been able to fully live up to the expectations that his potential suggests. He lacks whatever gene or motivation that separates extremely talented NBA players from stars.

While it can be argued that Odom's inability to match his game to his skill has left a lot of glory on the court, he has still managed to construct a resume that most NBA players would envy. Jamison will never be considered as versatile a player as Odom, but he does hold one important advantage over Odom.

Odom is a player who does well in most aspects of the game, but he really hasn't defined himself in one particular category.

Jamison is a player who recognized early that scoring the ball would be the best way to extend his time in the NBA and his career has reflected that sentiment. As a high school player in Charlotte, NC Jamison was a dominant interior player, and the same was true during his three season stint at North Carolina.

Jamison was under-sized at 6'8", but he seemed to have an extra spring in his step, and he made a habit of being in the right place at the right time. This led to numerous rebounds, many of the offensive variety.

In the NBA, Jamison's size has prevented him from becoming a dominant rebounder. He did evolve into a 20 point per game career scorer, and he's managed to snare nearly eight rebounds per game as well. 

Lakers fans knew that Odom had the ability to take over any game, but there was always a sense that he could disappear at any moment.

Jamison will not defend, rebound or pass like Odom, but he will score. Everything about his career suggests he play in a more consistent and dependable manner.

It's doubtful that Jamison can replace Odom and the role he played in helping the Lakers win two championships, but his decision to dismiss more money and a chance to finish his career in his hometown is certainly a start to winning over the fans.

I will always miss the memory of Odom starting the fast break after grabbing a rebound, but that image is diminished when I imagine how the Lakers might look when Jamison is subbed in for Metta World Peace.

Michael Beasley was the object of many Lakers fans affections until he signed on with Phoenix, but in Jamison the Lakers get the same type of scorer with more experience, discipline and none of the emotional baggage.

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