Is Antawn Jamison's Lack of Defense Worth His Offense for L.A. Lakers?

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Is Antawn Jamison's Lack of Defense Worth His Offense for L.A. Lakers?
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Antawn Jamison is a lot of things.

The 36-year-old forward is a 14-year NBA veteran, a career 19.5 point-per-game scorer and was the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year in 2004.

One thing Jamison is not, however, is a good defender.

The Los Angeles Lakers knew this when they signed the former Cleveland Cavalier to a one-year deal for the veteran's minimum this summer, given the fact that head coach Mike Brown was with Jamison in Cleveland for the last few months of the 2009-2010 season.

While Jamison is still a threat offensively (17.2 points per game last season), do the baskets he provides make up for all the ones he gives up?

 

Statistically Speaking

When looking at Jamison's offensive and defensive ratings according to basketball-reference, a few things stand out.

First is his career offensive rating of 109.  This means that during his 14 years in the league Jamison is producing 109 points per every 100 possessions he's on the court.

That's the good news.

The bad news for the Lakers is that while he's scoring 109 points in those 100 possessions for his career, he's also allowing 109 points in the same amount of time, so his ability to contribute to a win strictly going by scoring and points given up is a wash.

Chris Chambers/Getty Images

This past season with the Cavaliers, his numbers were a little worse.

His offensive rating dropped from his career mark of 109 down to 103 while his defensive rating stayed the same at 109.

This was the second-highest differential in his career, with the worst mark being a seven point gap from 104 to 111 in 2010-2011.

While it's natural that Jamison's defense would get worse the older he gets, it is a little alarming to see the drop off he's experienced lately.

 

Forgetting the Numbers

As a fan of Jamison and someone who's watched him a lot with the Cavs the past few seasons, there is a way to effectively use him without hurting the team.

Jamison's problems on the defensive end primarily arise from his inability to stay in front of the quicker, more athletic post players in the league.

Matched up with an Amar'e Stoudemire, Chris Bosh or LaMarcus Aldridge and they'll beat Jamison like a drum all game.

However, Jamison is a very capable defender when it comes down to guarding power forwards who spend a lot of time outside of the post like Kevin Love or Dirk Nowitzki. 

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Having a shot-blocker like Andrew Bynum to meet any forwards who blow by him will certainly help too.

 

Conclusion

Jamison brings a lot to the table besides simply scoring.  He is a great leader, mentor and teammate who will fit in perfectly in a veteran locker room.

While Mike Brown will have to consider the matchups before putting Jamison on the floor, he should be more then capable enough to guard many teams second-string power forward.

Overall this was a great signing for the Lakers, and they should have little worry about the veteran forward's lack of defense moving forward.

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