No. 5: Lamar Odom
Need a quick way to identify how old a Clippers fan is? Ask them about Lamar Odom and see what their response is; if 2012 is immediately mentioned the person in question is pretty young; if the early 2000s, when Odom, Elton Brand, and Darius Miles was seen as the franchise’s “Big 3”, the person in question has been on this train ride for quite some time.
Before being Sixth Man of the Year, Odom’s road to the NBA began with the Clippers after being drafted fourth overall in the 1999 NBA Draft.
At 6-foot-10, Odom’s versatility would make him an instant impact-maker in the NBA, sporting averages of 16.6 points, 7.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.2 steals, and 1.3 locks per game in his rookie season; at season’s end, Odom would be named to the 1999-00 All-Rookie 1st team, alongside Andre Miller, Elton Brand, Steve Francis, and Wally Szczerbiak. In Year 2, Odom would see improvement across the board, averaging 17.2 points, an eventual career-high, 7.8 rebounds, and 5.2 assists per game; unfortunately, the Clippers, winners of 31 games, would fail to make the playoffs from 1999 to 2001.
With Odom as one of the league’s best young players and the Clippers adding Elton Brand via trade, there was optimism surrounding the franchise, a first time thing in years, but the feel would eventually be squandered as Odom would only play 25 games on the season — the forward was suspended after testing positive for marijuana two times in an eight-month period; the next season would eventually be his last with the franchise as Donald Sterling refused to match the restricted free agent offer from the Miami Heat.
From there, Odom blazed a trail to stardom: a member of the Miami Heat for one season, Odom would be included in the superstar deal that’d send the forward to the Los Angeles Lakers and three-time NBA champion center Shaquille O’Neal to the Miami Heat. From there, Odom round into his own as a player aside Kobe Bryant, and with Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum in the picture years later, winning Sixth Man of the Year in 2010-11 and NBA championships in 2010 and 2011.
Odom’s NBA career would come full circle in 2012 when, after a disastrous season with the Dallas Mavericks, Odom would once again find himself to be a Clipper. Nobody truly knows what happen to cause such a sharp decline in on-court productivity, but Odom was a long ways from the player fans once cheered on in the early 2000s; instead, Odom, coming off the bench behind Griffin, led with his seldom-playmaking and defense as one part of the terrorizing “Tribe Called Bench” reserve unit with Matt Barnes, Ronny Turiaf, Eric Bledsoe, and Jamal Crawford.
Unfortunately, Odom’s second stint with the Clippers, a mediocre one at best, last one season, and would be the last we’d see of the versatile forward and former Sixth Man of the Year in the NBA — he’d sign with the Knicks under Phil Jackson but was released before ever playing a game — as he’d go on to marry into the Kardashian family and deal with drug issues.
Given Odom’s issues early on, it’s always a wonder to ponder upon what could have occurred if the Clippers decided to match Miami’s offer, pairing the do-everything forward with Elton Brand. Surely it would have been the team’s most talented pairing until Chris Paul-Blake Griffin game along years later, and maybe they defeat the Phoenix Suns in the West semi-finals; who knows, but it’s a fun “what-if” to think on.
In regards to Odom’s standing in Clippers all-time statistics, he shows up very little — 10th in three-point attempts and a couple of appearances in advanced stats.