Antawn Jamison emerging as a contributor
The Lakers added veteran forward Antawn Jamison this summer to bolster the bench. Initially under Coach Mike Brown, Jamison struggled to find his way in the offense.
The transition from Brown to Bernie Bickerstaff to Mike D’Antoni didn’t show any significant improvement until Friday night in Memphis.
In the losing effort (106-98), Jamison played a season-high 27 minutes, scoring his best with the team (16 points) on seven-for-11 shooting.
On Saturday, in the 115-89 win against Dallas, Jamison was even better, collecting a double-double with 19 points and 15 rebounds in 30 minutes (also making seven of 11 shots).
To put the math in perspective, through Jamison’s first 12 games as a Laker, he averaged 3.8 points and three rebounds in 15 minutes a night. Over the last two games, Jamison put up 17.5 points and 11 boards in 28.5 minutes a game.
The Lakers are a very different team with Jamison contributing offensively. Perhaps the biggest change was a dip in Pau Gasol’s minutes. Through the first 12 games, Gasol was on the floor 37.3 minutes a game.
Gasol’s performance has recently lagged, likely linked to minutes wearing him down. The last two games, Gasol was needed for 28 minutes a game.
The more Jamison can do, the less Gasol has to do. That in turn should lead to fresher legs, enabling Gasol to contribute more, in an even shorter time span.
Jamison has also taken away minutes from Jordan Hill, who is a capable rebounder but inefficient scorer from both the field and the line.
D’Antoni will continue to adjust his rotation until he finds a formula that leads to regular wins. Getting Jamison involved looks like a positive early step in that direction, the loss in Memphis notwithstanding.
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