Lamar Odom Needs To Step Up If Lakers are to Survive

Dino NicandrosAnalyst IMay 29, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 27:  (L-R) Lamar Odom #7 and Pau Gasol #16 of the Los Angeles Lakers hug in the fourth quarter against the Denver Nuggets in Game Five of the Western Conference Finals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 27, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. 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 Harry How/Getty Images)

Kobe Bryant is the man in L.A.

As such, he will be the one taking the brunt of media and fan displeasure for the Lakers' lackluster playoff performances, even though the future Hall of Famer has put up at least 32 points in four of the five games against the Nuggets.

We've all watched the games.  Kobe shows up when he has to and even then, the Lakers tend to play with a lot less fire than one would expect.

The Lakers' struggles really have nothing to do with L.A.'s main man. 

Though the blame can be distributed equally among Derek Fisher, who has lost his shot almost entirely, Andrew Bynum, who has had a hard time returning to late-season form, and the bench play in general, I see one glaring weakness with this Laker team.

Lamar Odom.

Odom, at 6'10", 230 pounds, is physically imposing and just looks like a guy born to play the game. 

He can play the power forward position with his size, or he can step out and play at small forward with his ability to stretch a defense with his three-point shooting.

Next to Kobe, Lamar Odom may very well be the most physically gifted player on the Lakers' roster.

He provides the ultimate mismatch for smaller, less agile forwards.  With the double and triple teaming Kobe is seeing, this guy should be mauling the Nuggets' defense.

It hasn't really panned out that way.

Apart from a Game Five performance, in which Odom finally showed signs of life, he has been a disappointment this postseason, especially in the Rockets and Nuggets series.

In 12 games, Odom has put up double digits only four times. 

That's amazing, considering the guy plays around 31 minutes a game.

Odom is shooting 38 percent in the Denver series, hitting only 17 of 44 shots from the floor.  That's inexcusable for a man of his size and talent.

He's only taken seven three-point shots in five games and made just three.  I don't think the Denver defense is too afraid of him when he plays on the perimeter.

The 63 percent free-throw shooting doesn't help matters, though Phil Jackson has learned to live with it.

Chris Andersen, Nene, and Kenyon Martin have beaten up on Odom down low all series long.

The fact of the matter is that Odom has underachieved.  Big-time.

Instead of being a compliment to the likes of Bryant and Pau Gasol, he has often been a liablility.

Sure he has done his rebounding, but his shot hasn't been there and he hasn't been the aggressive Lamar Odom Laker fans have come to know.

The Lakers won game five because Odom decided to play (19 points, 14 rebounds). 

In fact, when Odom has scored in double figures this postseason, the Lakers are 7-2.

If the L.A. is to avoid yet another close call, Odom has to show up every night and be a productive member of the rotation.

The Lakers desperately need Odom to regain his fire and swagger, or else they will face elimination sooner rather than later.


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