Antawn Jamison’s preseason struggles don’t concern Lakers
Anytime the Lakers reserves stepped on the floor, an offensive drought ensued.
They would cough up leads. They’d go on long stretches without a field goal. The Lakers were left wondering who would lead them out of the darkness.
The team believed they had solved that problem by adding 15-year veteran Antawn Jamison, who’s averaged a career 19.5 points both as a starter and a reserve. The Lakers acquired this piece at the veteran’s minimum, no less. Yet through four preseason games, Jamison has hardly provided such scoring punch, averaging only 5.8 points on 27.6% shooting.
But the Lakers hardly seem worried.
“He’s fine,” Kobe Bryant said of Jamison. “With Antawn, the way he plays, he can drop them anywhere. He’s going to be extremely effective with or without the ball. He also can shoot very well from the perimeter.”
Jamison provided a mixed bag in those areas Wednesday during the Lakers’ 114-80 loss to the Utah Jazz at the Honda Center in Anaheim.
With Coach Mike Brown resting Pau Gasol out of fatigue concerns, Jamison took the starting nod at power forward but scored only seven points on two-of-11 shooting. Although many of his looks appeared in rhythm and in the context of the offense, Jamison missed many open shots. He has said he’s been trying to find consistency this training camp with his shooting stroke by not leaning forward so much on his shots. Meanwhile, Jamison hardly helped in mitigating the Lakers’ preseason-wide problem in stopping teams in transition.
“It’s not anything difficult for me to adapt to,” Jamison said. “I’m getting more and more comfortable. It’s a process as far as getting your feet under you and getting yourself situated and confident with the offense and defensive schemes. I’m the type of person that once I get all of that underneath my belt, it’s like riding a bike.”
Such a process will be critical considering the Laker bench finished the 2011-12 season last in the NBA in total offense (20.5 points per game), 20th in shooting percentage (21.8%) and 28th in efficiency (27.2).
Brown remains confident that process will take place soon. It’s the preseason, after all, and he’s spent the games so far with endless bench rotations featuring some players that won’t even make the team. Brown recalled that Jamison remarked to him during Tuesday’s morning shoot-around that “I’m starting to feel better out on the floor.” Brown said Jamison has had a head start in learning similar offensive concepts since he played for both Brown, with the Cleveland Cavaliers (2010), and for assistant coach Eddie Jordan, with the Washington Wizards (2004-08). Teammates have also touted Jamison’s improved shooting stroke emerging this past week in practice.
“He’s been in a lot of different situations and has done some of the things we’re asking him to do,” Brown said. “A guy like him keeps on going along. He gives you what he can, which is a lot at his stage in his career.”
Despite the poor shooting percentage against Utah, Jamison showed flashes. He drove to the rack off a set inbounds play and spaced the floor well throughout the game. It appears he and Steve Nash recognized each other’s tendencies well, including a feed that led to Jamison’s first-quarter three-pointer.
“Antawn is a veteran and skilled,” Nash said. “He can stretch the floor and he’s very crafty in the paint. He’s not a concern. He can play with anyone in any lineup.”
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