It appeared that way Sunday night as Odom was easily the most impressive of the Mavs' new players in the 106-92 preseason loss to Oklahoma City. He put up 14 points and seven rebounds in 23 minutes after just a few practices and still trying to adjust from the triangle offense in L.A. to the Mavs' scheme. The 6-foot-10 forward's versatility was already detectable even with his unfamiliarity.
He made 5-of-11 shots and was 2-of-3 from 3-point territory. Odom started at power forward because Dirk Nowitzki (and Jason Kidd) didn't play. In the regular season, Odom will likely come off the bench behind Shawn Marion at small forward. However, coach Rick Carlisle has made no decisions -- or at least he won't let them be known -- on a starting lineup.
Announced in the starting lineup Sunday night, Odom received a warm ovation from the crowd.
"Lamar Odom is going to be a fan favorite here just because of the kind of player he is," Carlisle said. "You can tell by his body language that he is just a really likable guy. He’s a competitor. He’s been a part of a lot of winning and our fans recognize that; they know the problems he’s given us over the years. That said, he’s working through some things adjustment-wise, conditioning-wise, as are a lot of our guys. We’ve got to keep pressing through those things.”
Odom said he's taking things nice and easy breaking in with his new team.
"Once I settle in, get sleep, eat, find a place to call home," Odom said, "I should be OK.”
Vince Carter, expected to be the starter at shooting guard, mostly shot it flat and short and was just 4-of-11 for nine points. He left some points at the rim although while showing that he can still get there.
Backup point guard Delonte West started with Kidd sitting out. He had a rough game picking up three early fouls and four by halftime. He finished with five points, five assists and five steals in 24 minutes and made just 1-of-7 shots.
All three were in the starting lineup and each played more than 19 minutes. Combined they scored 28 points, but also had 13 fouls as the Thunder went to the free throw line 41 times, led by Kevin Durant's 13-of-14.
"There were a lot of things I did like, but again, our team defense is going to have to be tighter and better," Carlisle said. "Admittedly, these guys (the Thunder) are the kind of team that can just jump up over you after you've played good defense and make shots, and they did that some of the time. We're going to have to be better than we were [Sunday]."