Who needs Andrew Bynum when you’ve got a 6’10” do-it-all forward dropping 16 points and pulling down 13 boards a night? Ok, so Lamar Odom still isn’t the defensive force in the middle of the paint that Bynum is but he’s definitely proving why Dr. Buss was so willing to foot the luxury tax bill just to keep LO with the Lake Show.
Two games into the young season and Odom is in All-Star form. Last night in Phoenix Odom abused Hedo Turkoglu to the tune of 18 points, 17 big boards and 5 dimes. The type of stat line fantasy geeks droll over and opposing defenders cringe at when they read the box score.
Odom is already in midseason form because for him this is the halfway point. After another title run, Lamar helped Team USA win the FIBA world championships in Turkey then had only enough time to setup a Skittles machine at his house before camp opened.
Since his days as a high school All-American, Odom has been compared to Magic Johnson. Such kind compliments perhaps set the bar too high leaving many fans neglectful of Odom’s nightly contributions. No doubt LO would be the most unstoppable force this side of Kobe Bryant if he had KB24’s mentality. By the same token, there are a few things Kobe could learn from Lamar. Namely how to let the game unfold and find spots to contribute instead of forcing the action. There is a time and a place for the alpha dogs to feast. But there is also something to be said of the calculating predator that waits for the opportune moment to strike.
Odom’s greatest strength can also be a weakness at times. Content to sit back and let the game come to him, Odom routinely lulls the competition to sleep while he quietly fills up the stat sheet in most every category. By the end of the night, hapless defenders like the Turkish Nick Anderson are left scratching their heads as Odom’s arsenal eventually becomes too much for one man to handle.
The ease with which Odom snatches boards, initiates the break and then finishes with one of those far-reaching finger rolls is a thing of beauty. As if he were playing against the second unit of a D-League team, Odom simply dominates stretches of the game in the most mild-mannered way possible.
Now getting Lamar to unleash the beast on a nightly basis has been the impossible task his entire career. One night he’s Oscar Robertson, the next he’s Greg Kite.
For now, Odom is the impossible matchup shooting 70% from the field and grabbing everything that falls off the rim. While this team is driven by the performances of Kobe and Pau, it is Lamar’s game that steers the ship.
So, Andrew, take you time. Feel free to bench press a few more Playboy bunnies if need be. So long as we’ve got this Lamar we’ll be good until January. After passing the first road test of the year, Odom is breezing by earning an easy ‘A’.