Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle, much as he was last season with Brendan Haywood, is Lamar Odom's biggest cheerleader. And, really, what choice does he have? Carlisle needs Odom to perform at a higher level, and the coach firmly believes that he is and will continue to get better, even if it at times it might be hard for others to see it.
Odom's last two games have again put his performance and his desire into question. In the loss at New York, Odom went 1-of-6 from the floor and committed a horrible turnover that led a slam dunk at the end of the third quarter to further the Knicks' comeback.
Monday against Boston, Odom was just 2-of-8 shooting. In both games, he didn't even log a full 20 minutes.
Still, Carlisle on Monday night propped up Odom and said that the 13-year veteran has shown vast improvement since the first 15 games.
"His summer was rough, he wasn’t in shape when he got here, all that’s been documented," Carlisle said. "What I can talk to you about is what I’ve seen and I saw the first 15 games and I’ve seen the last 16 or whatever it’s been, and there’s been marked improvement. But, if we’re looking for a guy that’s going to dazzle on a night-in, night-out basis with gaudy stats and a bunch of fancy stuff, that’s not who he is as a player and that’s not who he’s been as a player."
Carlisle based his statement on Odom's stats per 36 minutes, which extrapolate a player's statistics over 36 minutes, or the typical minutes logged by a starting player in a game.
Carlisle said to stop expecting the spectacular from Odom and to better understand the nuance of his game. He called him a consistent player throughout his career, but not one that is going to stuff the box score on a nightly basis.