Friday, December 16, 2011
Countdown: New blood
By Tim MacMahon
DALLAS -- Lamar Odom can't do all the things Tyson Chandler did for the Mavericks during the franchise's first championship march.
The intense big man the Mavs let go and the versatile forward they acquired are completely different kinds of players. But, if the Mavs are going to repeat, they need Odom's impact to be just as strong as Chandler's last season.
The Mavs are counting on swingman Vince Carter and guard Delonte West to be solid contributors. They'll need Odom, the Sixth Man of the Year with the Lakers last season, to play a starring role to earn another ring.
Chandler's role was easily defined: Be the Mavs' defensive backbone, battle on the boards, finish strong on the offensive end and serve as an inspirational leader. Odom's role will basically be to do a little of everything.
Odom will probably come off the bench again, playing significant minutes at both forward spots. He'll play some center in small-ball units. He'll frequently have point guard responsibilities, especially when coach Rick Carlisle wants to play shoot-first Jason Terry or Rodrigue Beaubois at the 1 with the second unit.
The Mavs need Odom to be one of their best scorers, distributors, rebounders and defenders. And he needs to get up to speed at pretty much every position in a new system by Christmas Day, even though he and his famous wife might not even have a place to call home in Dallas by then.
"This is more responsibility than I've ever had to put on a player's shoulders, but he's very capable of doing it," Carlisle said. "His versatility is going to be one of the real plusses for our team."
The Mavs aren't asking Odom, a 6-foot-11 dude who idolized Jason Kidd as a kid and has the skills to prove it, to do anything he hasn't done before. They'd be thrilled if he continues to produce like he did for the Lakers last season, when he averaged 14.4 points, 8.6 rebounds, 3.0 assists and shot a career-best 53.0 percent from the floor and 38.2 percent from 3-point range.
Of course, that's quite a challenge for a guy getting to know new teammates as he makes the transition from the triangle offense to Carlisle's flow-oriented sets.
"At the end of the day, it's basketball," said Odom, the rare player who is comfortable and effective on either end of a pick-and-roll. "These guys do a great job of just moving the ball and playing off each other. Hopefully, I can find my niche really quick.
"I can just play ball. I don't have to worry about how many shots I make and how many shots I take. I don't have to score the ball to be effective. I can be effective in so many different ways. Just have fun, just go out there and play the game."