Lamar Odom is a heck of a basketball player. Odom, 6’10", can play basically every role in the offense, is a high-efficiency scorer, a fine defender, and an above-average rebounder.
Let’s talk about offense, first.
Last year, Odom was one of 10 non-centers to shoot over .515 from the field (.530) along with Dirk (.517) and Shawn Marion (.520). He’s also, along with Dirk, one of the only players in the top 20 of field goal percentage to do his damage from all over the court. He shot 38% from three, good for sixth among players listed at Power Forward (behind Bonner, Love, Ryan Anderson, Dirk, and Charlie Villanueva.)
Mavericks fans shouldn’t expect quite that level of efficient production. Last year was Odom’s highest three-point shooting year by a considerable margin, and he’s a 32% shooter lifetime. He also shot 70% around the basket, and has only one other season of shooting over 50% to his credit.
Although, as Jason Kidd among other has certainly demonstrated, three-point shooting is one of the few skills that can improve with age, it’s reasonable to temper expectations. Hollinger notes that Odom is a strong candidate for the "Fluke rule" which states that any player over 28 whose PER jumps 3 points or more in a season is operating at a more than 90% likelihood to return to Earth the next season. Nevertheless, Odom remains one of the best all-around players in the game, and the Mavericks would certainly take even his career field goal percentage, which is 47%.
On defense, Odom is a strong, physical defender and will help the Mavs against the games burlier power forwards, otherwise a weakness. He also has the strength and agility to give the Rudy Gay types some trouble, though expect Marion, as last year, to have primary defensive responsibility for those types of players. He won’t be chasing the small guards, but then, why would he?
Odom will probably see most of his minutes at the 3, backing up Shawn Marion, or with Marion backing him up, but he’s also likely to be Dirk’s primary backup at the 4, and rumor has it that the Mavs will be experimenting with both Odom and Dirk at center. In other words, expect him to be on the court quite a lot. He’s also a terrific rebounder, having grabbed 8.5 or more in 7 of the last 8 seasons.
His major weakness is probably his free throw shooting, which, lifetime, is a shade under 70%. This is more of an issue than it might seem since, given Haywood’s struggles from the line and the Mavericks propensity to get into close games, this might keep him out of the Mavs finishing lineup. Still, if he can even approximate what he did last year, for the Mavericks, Carlisle, Donnie, and the rest of us will be very happy.