NBA fans over the age of 15 certainly remember Toni Kukoc, aka "the Croatian Sensation," "the white Magic," even "the European Jordan."
He played in the NBA from 1993 to 2006, most famously (or infamously, depending on one's perspective) with the Bulls from 1993 to 2000.
On paper and on his European precedence, Toni was an offensive and defensive nightmare. Toni was 6'11" (or 6'10" or and 7'0" depending on who measured him), lean, agile, a skilled ball-handler, and an adept shooter who was most comfortable at small forward, but could play all 5 positions.
Unfortunately, the NBA doesn't play on paper.
Toni was a decent, but inconsistent 6th man with some guys named Michael and Scottie who won three rings with the Bulls. Although he won "6th man of the year" once, he should have perennially owned the award. He could handle the ball like a point guard, shoot (erratically) like a shooting guard, and "go to the hole" like a small/power forward.
Unfortunately though, you never knew which "Toni" would show up, "the white Magic" or "the Land of the Lost Toni." Plus, he was strangely, despite his versatility, a defensive liability.
For his career, he averaged 11.6 pts per game, 3.7 assists per game, and 4.2 rebounds per game. Although his numbers during his seven years with Bulls were better, peaking one (freak) year (starting, post MJ) with an 18.7 points/game average.
This brings us to Lamar Odom. His similarities to Kukoc are fascinating, if not disappointing.
At 6'10" (or 7'0" if you believe Reggie Miller, NOT), agile, versatile, athletic, a good ball-handler, a capable shooter, and wiry, Lamar SHOULD be an offensive and defensive nightmare.
BUT, he is neither. Like Kukoc was, Lamar has yet to find anyone wearing shorts that he can properly defend, and offensively the only thing the Lakers can depend on is him, at least once a game, performing his "Muhammad Ali-shuffle-between-the legs-dribble" thingie and acquiring at least one charging file while wildly driving to the basket, without looking at who's standing right in front of him.
Reg DeVone is co-owner/admin: Sports Jabber.