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Odom's versatility is the key for these Lakers
You probably saw this coming, considering there were 7 factors required for the Lakers Threepeat, no?
Lamar Odom is a Hall of Fame talent. Whether he gets in is something that I don't have the power to determine, but what is a fact is that he is a winner, and - with all due respect to Dirk Nowitzki and Lebron James - he is the most versatile player in the NBA.
Lamar Odom is a 6'11" freak of an athlete. He can block shots, he rebounds well, and he can play point guard. Yet, he has the bulk and strength to grab rebounds over Dwight Howard. He has three point range and can defend any of the five positions on the court.
Finally, he got some personal recognition in the form of winning the NBA's 2011 Sixth Man of the Year Award.
But awards aside, for the Lakers to overcome the Mavericks, Lamar Odom will need to provide the team with a starter's production in his role as their Sixth Man. He will have to take the task of stopping Nowitzki in the post while his fellow Queens, NY native, Ron Artest, takes the challenge of shutting him down on the perimeter.
On the offensive end, he's going to have to use his speed to render Shawn Marion useless, and use his agility to make Dirk work on both sides of the court.
Odom has inexplicably failed to show up in some big games. Thus far, in the 2011 NBA Playoffs, in the Lakers 3 losses, he is averaging a very pedestrian 10.3ppg, 5.7rpg, and 1.3apg.
Clearly, that's not going to get it done.
If Odom wants to join the likes of Robert Horry and Rick Fox as integral cogs in a Lakers three-peat, those numbers aren't going to cut it. He will need to be the Lakers human jackknife by hitting threes, blocking shots, starting fast breaks, and otherwise doing all of the things that no single player in the league can do as consistently as him.
He needs to show up and he needs to play his best ball now.
Many predict that the Thunder, Blazers, Heat, and Bulls are knocking on the door and are ready to commence the changing of the guard that occurs twice a decade in the NBA. We have already seen the Spurs pushed aside by the younger Grizzlies. The Celtics - currently down 2-0 in their series to the Miami Heat - are now desperate to avoid the same fate.
For the Lakers to advance past the Mavericks and win the Western Conference, they'll need the Lamar Odom that they've gotten the past 2 years.
They'll just need to hope that he'll do his best impression of red wine and continue to get better with age.
They'll need to hope that he's saved his best for what could be their last and that he can do the improbable: Outplay Dirk Nowitzki.
And most of all, they'll need to hope that the #7 on his jersey becomes each of their players' favorite number from here on out, because the Lakers will surely need all 7 of these factors to fall in their favor if Kobe Bryant is to be able to have dinner with Michael Jordan.
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