By no means is Lamar’s position as the Lakers’ sixth man a demotion; it was simply the perfect role for him. As sixth man, he still receives starter’s minutes and is often in the lineup during a game’s most crucial moments; however, he it has also released him of the pressure to consistently be the team’s second scoring option behind Kobe. Instead, he gets to be the player that fits HIS mentality, which is a playmaker.
If you watch Lamar play, it’s clear that he is playing his best when he is creating for others and letting his offense come to him. His potential could have him scoring 25 points a night, but that’s simply not who Lamar is – and nobody should expect him to be a player that he is mentally incapable of being on a nightly basis.
With injuries to the Lakers’ front line now becoming an annual tradition, Lamar will often find himself back in the starting lineup. In the most recent seasons, this was often detrimental to the Lakers’ reserves, as Lamar is essentially the captain of the self-proclaimed “Bench Mob”. The start of this season will not be any different, as Andrew Bynum is once again, out with injury – likely out of action until December – which means Lamar will get the nod at power-forward until further notice.
While Lamar’s removal from the bench has often put the reserves in some sort of a funk, this year will be a different story, as the Lakers’ summer acquisitions will help fill in the void left by Lamar’s insertion in the starting lineup.
Additionally, I see Lamar’s return to the starting lineup to begin the season as a blessing for the two-time defending champion Lakers. Although Bynum’s presence will be greatly missed, Lamar became a completely different player this summer while playing for Team USA in the World Championships.