L.A. Lakers: Why Antawn Jamison Is the Most Underrated Addition of the Offseason

Ben Leibowitz@BenLeboCorrespondent IIISeptember 26, 2012

NEWARK, NJ - MARCH 19:  Antawn Jamison #4 of the Cleveland Cavaliers looks on during warm ups against the New Jersey Nets at Prudential Center on March 19, 2012 in Newark, New Jersey.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Chris Chambers/Getty Images)
Chris Chambers/Getty Images

With key additions to the Los Angeles Lakers this offseason, which include a two-time NBA MVP, a three-time Defensive Player of the Year award winner and even much-hyped signings in Jodie Meeks and Jordan Hill, Antawn Jamison seems to be lost among the group of fresh faces.

The Lakers’ 2012 offseason may go down as one of the greatest ever, but Jamison is quickly becoming the most underrated addition among the many moves L.A. made this summer.

Sure Steve Nash and Dwight Howard are both NBA superstars who will bolster the Lakers’ starting lineup, but Jamison’s job could prove more important, as he’s meant to improve the Lakers’ dreadful second unit.

A season ago, the Lakers’ bench scored 20.5 points per game, which was dead last in the NBA according to Hoops Stats. Matt Barnes and Steve Blake were the Lakers’ two leading scorers off the bench last season, averaging just 13 points per game between them.

Jamison, a former Sixth Man of the Year award winner, is not only comfortable playing a key role off the bench, but he’s also no stranger to scoring points in bunches.

Over the course of Jamison’s 14-year NBA career, he’s averaged 20 points per game or more five times (six times if you include the 41-game span during the 2009-10 season with the Washington Wizards). That’s more scoring output than Pau Gasol, who has averaged 20 points per game or more just twice in his career. It’s also more than Dwight Howard, who has averaged 20 or more four times.

In addition to being a proven NBA scorer who is comfortable coming off the bench, Jamison can also shoot from deep. His career 34.6 three-point percentage is better than the averages Kobe Bryant, Derek Fisher, Steve Blake, Matt Barnes and Metta World Peace put up last season.

As a team, the Lakers were one of the worst in terms of three-point-shooting efficiency. They ranked 26th in the league at 32.2 percent; only the Washington Wizards, Utah Jazz, Sacramento Kings and Charlotte Bobcats were worse from beyond the arc.

On a playoff-bound team built around the strong inside presence of Gasol and Howard, having a competent outside shooter will prove invaluable. As opponents throw double-teams at Howard and Gasol, Jamison can capitalize on open looks from the perimeter.

Jamison’s pedigree as a proven scorer speaks for itself, but a truly underestimated factor that could contribute to his success in Los Angeles is his return to a winning culture.

The Cleveland Cavaliers have been cellar dwellers since LeBron James took his talents to South Beach. Kyrie Irving was stellar a season ago winning the NBA Rookie of the Year, but the Cavs need a lot more help.

Leaving one of the NBA’s worst teams for what appears to be one of the NBA’s best teams should re-kindle Jamison’s competitive drive and spirit.

The majority of attention in Los Angeles during the 2012-13 season will be centered around Nash and Howard. However, as one of the team’s most underrated additions, Jamison may become a gigantic X-factor not only during the regular season, but the postseason as well.


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