Besides adding to the Lakers’ strength inside, Bynum’s return will undoubtedly mark the end of Lamar Odom’s very efficient run as a starter. Moving to the second unit, however, will likely not reduce Lamar’s minutes too much, he could still play over the 30-minute mark.
Having Lamar Odom coming off the bench seems like a bad idea considering his production value—15.9 points per game on 62.7 percent shooting, 69.2 percent beyond the arc and 11.1 rebounds per game—but it may just be the best option for the team.
“I think it’s best for the team,” said Phil Jackson. “I think being the team player [Odom] is he understands that.”
Sliding Odom into “The Renegade’s” rotation will not only give the second unit a boost, but also give them a much needed identity. One of the biggest strengths for the Lakers is their ability to go inside-out, unfortunately that isn’t something that Bynum has mastered quite yet, making it all the more important to have Odom come off the bench as he could add that dimension while the reserves take the floor.
“They have an incredible staring five once Bynum is healthy, and when Lamar [Odom] moves back to the bench, oh my goodness,” Laker legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson told Los Angeles Times beat writer Mike Bresnahan after Tuesday’s game. “Lamar should win sixth man of the year. This guy is playing just unbelievable right now.”
After all, Odom is playing with an entirely new bench, a group very different from the ego-centric “bench mob” of last season. The mostly veteran reserves have proved they’re more into creating space by moving the ball instead of taking quick or ill-advised shots. A perfect fit for the ready-and-willing passer, Odom.
In all likelihood, Odom will still log similar minutes coming off the bench as he did while a starter. Jackson has already pointed out that his plan, once Bynum returns, is to limit his minutes to intervals much like he did during the playoffs. This is to ensure he doesn’t overdo it en route to his knee fully recovering and so that his knee doesn’t stiffen up from sitting on the bench for too long.