To the joy of all Lakers fans, Andrew Bynum made his return to the court this week. Bynum's impact on the team has been felt immediately. The Lakers have won all four games since Bynum returned last Tuesday night. Once Andrew Bynum is able to regain his timing and conditioning, he will most likely return to the Lakers starting lineup.
This means Lamar Odom will be returning to his role as the Lakers sixth man. Switching back and forth between starter and sixth man is nothing Odom isn't used to. Since Bynum began his string of knee injuries in 2008, Odom has graciously went back and forth between the two roles.
However, what will make the transition a little trickier this time around is the fact Odom is arguably playing the best basketball of his 11-year career. Odom is considered by many to be the team's X-factor. More times than not, when Odom plays well the Lakers win.
On the other hand, Odom has often played inconsistently throughout his career as a Laker. With that being said, this year we have rarely seen Odom's Dr. Jekyll side, and mostly the Mr. Hyde version. The big question on the minds of Lakers fans is: Can he keep up his consistency when he is forced back to being the sixth man?
I believe Odom will continue the hot streak he has exhibited early in the season. Odom has a much more talented group of bench players to work with this season, compared to years past. The stellar play of Shannon Brown, Matt Barnes and Steve Blake has many talking about the Lakers having the best bench in the NBA this season.
I think this will play a huge factor in Odom keeping up his consistent play this season. Odom has seen how well the bench has played this season. Why would he risk letting the bench lose its momentum, and possibly get fingers pointed at him for being the cause?
The only potential downfall is Odom may not feel as much pressure to do well playing with more quality players, which could lead to more up-and-down play from the lanky southpaw.
Something else to consider is Odom has a chance this season to make his first All-Star team. While it may be a long shot, considering all of the talented frontcourt players in the Western Conference, Odom could make the team as a reserve or injury replacement. Odom could use the possibility of making his first All-Star team to continue his hot start.
As history has shown, trying to predict if Odom will play consistently over the course of an entire season is tricky business for Lakers fans. However, with a stellar group of bench players to keep him motivated, and the possibility of making his first All-Star team, fans could be seeing the Mr. Hyde version of Lamar Odom much more this season.