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Beam Me Up, Scottie
Since the day Lamar Odom was drafted, we've been hearing the same thing: "He's the next Scottie Pippen." So, when Lamar Odom was traded to the Lakers a year ago, we all thought it might work out. Kobe, after all is like Michael Jordan. Odom could be like Pippen. And poof! You have the old Chicago Bulls.
With Phil Jackson coaching the team, we're hearing the comparison more.
The problem with this theory is two-fold. First off, let's not kid ourselves into thinking that Kobe Bryant is Michael Jordan. Kobe Bryant is a special talent, whose game does resemble Jordan's in some respects. But Jordan had a much better concept of team basketball. That might be odd to say about a guy who has won three rings, but Kobe Bryant is a weird guy, who is disliked by most of teammates, and hasn't figured out how to make others' better. He also is known to abandon the team concept after it doesn't work a few times.
That said, Kobe is much closer to Jordan than Odom is to Pippen. Kobe can still magically hit any shot on the floor, plays first-rate defense, and has exhibited championship form at times. On the other hand, Odom has yet to find his game. Supposedly he can take the ball up the floor, like a Pippen-style point-forward. But for some reason that never seems to work out. It didn't when he was a Clipper, it hasn't as a Laker, and we only saw flashes of it in Miami.
Odom is also often asked to play power forward, meaning he has to bang with tough Western Conference big men, and scrap for every rebound he can get. It's hard then to go from banging on the boards to suddenly dazzling in the open floor. Still, Odom was ridiculously deferential to Kobe this season, sitting around the three-point line, and just watching. It was almost pathetic to watch. And Odom's defense is nowhere close to Pippen's.
Lamar Odom is still a player with a world of potential, who can play four positions. Maybe a Phil Jackson-coached triangle can unleash his talents. Maybe if Scottie Pippen becomes a Lakers assistant coach, he teach Lamar Odom how to be like him.
But while we may want Lamar to be like Scottie, maybe that's not the best thing for him. Maybe we need to find out exactly what his game is, and the scheme accordingly, instead of having him be a carbon copy for someone else.