Yes, you read that sentence right.
On Saturday, Odom "exploded" for 18 points and added six rebounds and two assists. Not surprisingly, the Clippers handily defeated the Utah Jazz, 107-94.
Shockingly, that was just the second time all season Odom has reached double-digit points in a game. For a player of his talents that presents so many matchup difficulties for opposing forward, that simply isn't acceptable.
But imagine if Odom started playing up to his potential. Imagine if he regained his form from the 2010-11 season, when he averaged 14.4 points, 8.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists and was named the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year.
Imagine if he morphed back into the player who never averaged less than double-digit points over the course of a season until last year. Imagine how dangerous that player could make this Clippers team.
While he isn't getting the 30-plus minutes he used to see, Odom is still getting 20.5 minutes per game with the Clippers. He's clearly an important part of the team's rotation, and while he's only averaging a meager 3.9 points per game, he is contributing 5.8 rebounds per contest.
If he were to become more aggressive offensively, I have no doubt that the Clippers would find more minutes for him.
Then again, as Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times points out, it's always "ifs" and "whens" with Odom:
And therein lies the rub for Odom—his seasons of whens.
When Odom gets in shape. When Odom becomes more offense-minded. When Odom displays the skills he did while becoming the NBA's sixth man of the year with the Lakers in 2011. When Odom shows the form that made him a two-time NBA champion with the Lakers.
We know a few things about the Clippers. We know Chris Paul and Blake Griffin can carry them to a certain point in the postseason, but probably not past the San Antonio Spurs or Oklahoma City Thunder (and perhaps the Los Angeles Lakers, if that hot mess of a team ever figures things out).
We know that Jamal Crawford, Matt Barnes and Caron Butler are all nice players, but hardly matchup nightmares for opposing teams.
And we know that, given DeAndre Jordan's inconsistency all season, the Clippers could really use a player like Odom to pick up his production.
Now, I don't want to go too crazy here. The Clippers have two superstars in Paul and Griffin and arguably the deepest bench in the league. Even with Odom's current production, this is a very, very good team.
But imagine if Odom could find his form of old? Imagine if he could go from a player averaging four points a game to someone who could give them 10 and six off the bench in 25 minutes of play?
Yeah, that would be a scary team. That would be a true championship contender. It's not a crazy scenario.
If the pre-hurt-feelings-because-the-Lakers-tried-to-trade-him Odom reemerges, look out. Of course, as has always been the case in Odom's career, it's a big "if."
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