In the off-season, it would be an understatement to say that Lakers were busy. With the rise of the Miami Heat as the dominant force in the NBA, the Lakers organization felt that some huge moves would better position the squad to challenge the reigning champions.
So far this season, these aspirations have not looked particularly true.
Although Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol and even Metta World Peace (with a nice scoring revival) have played moderately well, the Lakers have not necessarily clicked as a squad. Many associate this lack of cohesiveness to Mike Brown's implementation of the Princeton offense, which sent the former Cavalier coach packing to start off the year.
But bench production has been another issue entirely. And currently, at this point in the season, there has been a significant lack of a sixth man.
The sixth man has generally been a key aspect of championship teams in Los Angeles. Lamar Odom was probably the most successful in this role, bringing a scoring and rebounding threat off the bench that opponents had a difficult time guarding.
Signing Antawn Jamison was a blatant attempt to bring an Odom-style player into the organization, a versatile veteran that can provide that necessary spark off of the bench and keep the momentum going following the starters.
But Jamison has not provided that energy. In fact, he is currently having the worst season of his career. Granted, his playing time from last season in a Cavaliers' jersey has been cut in half. But at this point in the season, he is averaging just 3.6 points per game and 3.7 rebounds, his point totals amounting to less than a fourth of what he put up a season ago.
Everything about Jamison's play is struggling. He is currently shooting 10 percentage points below his career field goal percentage. His free throw percentage is faltering. He is shooting 15% behind the three point line.
Many equate his age to his current struggles, but that is an easy way out. Jamison still looks like the player he was last year, but has struggled to get anything going this season. If the Lakers want to compete for a trip to the NBA Finals, they will need a lot more from Jamison off the bench, especially if they want to challenge the Miami Heat.
Towards the latter end of his career, it is now or never for Antawn Jamison.