Following up on Kevin’s great piece about Lamar Odom’s steep decline and uncertain future, I wanted to look at what, statistically, changed in how Odom was used by Dallas vs. L.A. the previous few seasons. Here were the biggest differences I found:
* The ball was in his hands less. Odom went from 1.03 touches per minute and 1.69 “dribbles per minute” (a touches/min offshoot developed using this 82games research) with the Lakers to 0.95 and 1.49, respectively, with Dallas. His assist% dropped from 15.6 to 13.0. Yet his usage stayed constant — still 19.8% of possessions and 20% of FGA while on the court. This means Odom was playing off the ball more. (You can also see that from his 63.3% assisted FG rate, as opposed to 59.4 last year.)
* His shoot/pass bias continued to shift more towards “shoot”. Here’s a breakdown of Odom’s touches over the past 3 seasons:
With his passing responsibility declining by 10% in two seasons, Odom shot on 36% of his touches this season, a career high. His previous high was last year’s 33%; his highest mark before that was 31% during the Clipper era.
* His rebounding fell off a cliff. Odom’s rebound rates dropped precipitously at both ends of the court this season — he fell from a 7.8 ORb% to 4.0 and a 22.2 DRb% to 18.6. Some of this is probably attributable to playing small forward more often. Almost all of this minutes in 2011 were at PF, but this year he spent about 34% of his court time at SF. He grabs about 1.5 more rebounds per 48 minutes as a PF than a SF, which doesn’t fully explain his 4-point decline in TRb%, but sheds some light on the origin of his rebounding slump.
* He took more jump shots and got inside less. In 2011, Odom took 43% of his shots from inside the painted area; in 2012 that number was 29%. (This tends to happen when a career-high 32% of your FGA come from downtown.) He drew fouls at practically the same rate, but his overall ability to get close shots was largely gone, as was his ability to finish what inside chances he had (he shot 14.5 percentage points worse on inside shots this year than in 2011). Added to that was the fact that his shooting stroke disappeared: Odom went from a .472 eFG% on jumpers (including 38% on threes) and a .675 FT% in 2011 to .329 (25%) and .592 in ‘12. He was probably never going to make 38% on threes again, but this is a guy who consistently hit 65-70% of his FTs and made at least 45% of his 2-pointers even in his Clippers days. Is the lockout to blame for his complete and sudden decline in pure shooting skill?
* He cut much less, spotted up way more, and was less effective in the post. According to this Sebastian Pruiti article at Grantland, Odom made a basket cut on 16.4% of his plays and spotted up for a jumper on 13.1% of them in 2011. He also averaged 1.225 pts/play on post-ups, which ranked 3rd in the NBA. This year, those numbers are 8.2%, 23.7%, and 0.55 (which ranks 136th). Given that his shooting stroke was very likely to regress to the mean after 2011, it really didn’t bode well for Odom’s efficiency that he was used less as a cutter and more as a spot-up shooter in Dallas.
I can’t tell you whether the Mavs were inherently a bad fit for Odom, or if he simply didn’t want to make it work in Dallas. But I can say that the Mavs were not using him the same way in which he was deployed productively by L.A. for so many years. His best shot at returning to form would be a team that lets him handle the ball and distribute more often, make more off-ball cuts, spot up for jumpers less, and play more PF. I find it hard to believe that a 32-year-old like Odom has “lost it” overnight; more likely, he was disinterested and Dallas wasn’t utilizing his skill set in an optimal way.