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Should the Los Angeles Lakers Start Lamar Odom Over Andrew Bynum?

Hadarii JonesSenior Writer IFebruary 26, 2010

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 25:   Lamar Odom #7 and Andrew Bynum #17 of the Los Angeles Lakers put the pressure on Leon Powe #0 of the Boston Celtics at Staples Center on December 25, 2008 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 Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers have the rare luxury of two talented 7-foot players in Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol starting in their lineup, but their true value may be better realized if Bynum was relegated to the bench.

There are those who would argue the sheer size of Bynum and Gasol on the floor together makes it difficult for opponents to operate in the paint, and while that may be true, the same applies to the Lakers.

The triangle offense is at its best when it is flowing and moving as one cohesive unit, and Bynum doesn't seem to quite grasp that concept, and his confusion about positioning often clogs the middle for the Lakers.

One of the most important elements of the triangle is flashing through the paint, and Bynum's inability to decipher his rotations often leaves him stuck in the post where he receives numerous three second calls.

The defensive end is not better because Bynum's problems are very similar in he has no clue about defensive switching, and instead of keeping his eye on the basket, he allows himself to be drawn out of position.

This leads to countless forays to an unguarded rim by the opposition, and when the perimeter gets breached as much as it does with Los Angeles, the second line of defense is critical.

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Fortunately this issue is solved by starting Lamar Odom in Bynum's place which allows him to get a better feel for the flow of the game while observing, and it immediately solves the Lakers' chemistry concerns.

Odom gives the Lakers better defensive play, secondary ball-handling skills, superior rebounding, and most importantly he has the ability to play on the perimeter which helps to decrease congestion in the paint.

Gasol is not as physically imposing as Bynum, but Odom has no fear of helping out in the paint, and although he is sometimes inconsistent, he has a firm grasp of the Lakers' concept.

Odom understands when to double team, and when to flash through the paint or set  screens for teammates, areas which cause Bynum trouble and make him a liability on the court.

Los Angeles would not drop off if the change were to occur and Odom causes his own mismatch problems for opponents playing as a power forward with perimeter abilities.

In fact, the Lakers have been more successful when either Bynum or Gasol are on the bench and Odom is on the court, but there is no debate that Gasol is the better player and deserves to start over Bynum.

When Odom is on the court he contributes more to the distinct rhythm of the Lakers' style which makes them nearly unstoppable when all parts are in unison, flowing together.

Bynum's role as the sixth man should not be viewed as a demotion, on the contrary, his presence as the first man off the Laker bench could be just as valuable to the team's success.

He would have the opportunity to be the primary focus in the paint, and his time on the bench could be spent viewing the subtle things in the game, which he could use to his advantage once he entered.

Coach Phil Jackson is one of the greatest coaches to grace the hardwood and I am sure he has noticed the disparities in the Lakers' play with both Bynum and Gasol in the lineup.

Jackson is stubborn though, and if he were to make that type of switch he would probably save it until the postseason, because he could then use it as a different look against potential opponents.

The Lakers are likely to go deep into the postseason regardless of which lineup Jackson chooses to go with, but Odom starting in place of Bynum may represent their best chance to repeat as champions.