The past two seasons for Lamar Odom have been full of extreme highs and woeful lows. Just two seasons ago Odom was crowned the league’s Sixth Man of the Year and won a title with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Odom’s time in Dallas was expected to be eventful. The Mavs were a contender and had just acquired the versatile Odom to help lead them back to the Finals.
However, Odom went through some personal issues and never seemed to settle into the Dallas organization. When April rolled around, as Dallas was preparing for a playoff push, the franchise and Odom decided to part ways.
Odom’s play with the Mavs was lackluster, to put it nicely. Averaging 6.6 points and 4.1 rebounds per game, Odom’s play looked stagnant and uninspired.
Fast forward to the 2012 season, and Odom’s play does not seem to have improved.
Odom showed up to minicamp overweight and out of shape. Expected to be a primary reserve for the Los Angeles Clippers, Odom has played a grand total of 77 minutes through the first seven games. His statistics are essentially meaningless, but needless to say the Clippers were expecting more than the 1.6 points and 2.0 rebounds per game he has totaled so far.
Players show up to training camp out of shape all the time. It may have been a surprise that Odom did not show up in shape, but the Clippers have seen Baron Davis pull the same act, only then to play his way into game shape.
The difference this time is that the Clippers are deep and can cover for Odom. But a team with championship aspirations and leaders who work as hard as Chauncey Billups and Chris Paul, Odom’s work ethic will be questioned and put to the test. It will only be a matter of time before CP3 and Billups push Odom into obscurity and dismiss his presence.
Odom’s own quotes seem to suggest that he understands he has let the team down and that he wants to earn back their respect:
It’s funny, because it’s not like I can’t. It’s not like I can’t jump as high or run as fast, or move laterally... It’s because I missed time, you know what I’m saying? The speed of the game is way different than practice. You could watch a million practices and get guys running up and down, it ain’t nothin’ like being out there. There was a couple times when I was trying to catch to game speed and I missed it. (via espn.com)
Watching Odom play so far this season has been underwhelming. He has not been able to display his athletic ability to rip down a rebound and push the ball up the floor himself. We’ve grown accustomed to seeing the 6’10" forward in his previous years attack the basket off the dribble and finish with finesse.
But early this season, it has been a struggle watching Odom lumber down the floor on a fast break. His minutes have been cut, and the coaching staff seems to prefer playing Ronny Turiaf and Ryan Hollins together for extended minutes rather than to let Odom play his way into shape.
The hope is for Odom to somehow regain some of his versatility. The Clippers acquired him with hopes that he could be their big man that finishes games with Blake Griffin when DeAndre Jordan’s foul shooting becomes a liability. However, LO looks weeks away from actually being in game shape and is sliding down the rotation.
Anyone waiting to see the Lakers version of Odom might want to stop wasting their time. His play is bound to fall somewhere in between that of his tenure with the Mavericks and the Lakers. The only question is how long it takes for that Odom to show up. While we may see flashes of brilliance from LO, there just are not enough minutes to go around, and Odom’s are first on the chopping block.
The responsibility is on Odom to show he has the desire to overcome this disappointing beginning to the final year of his contract. Once the franchise cornerstone, he left in 2003 calling the Clippers organization “basketball hell”.
In what could be a twisted turn of events, Odom’s career is now on the line with that same franchise. It is up to him to determine how this story ends.