09/27/2012 - 10:34
Flashback: The First Four
It's been nine years since Lamar Odom last suited up to play for the Clippers.
But with his second tenure with the team set to begin in just a few days, we're looking back at the first four years of Lamar's career in Los Angeles as a member of the Clippers.
ALL ROOKIE: 1999-2000
Lamar was selected by the Clippers with the fourth overall pick in the 1999 NBA Draft and immediately inserted into the starting lineup on opening night.
"At that time, people viewed the Clippers in a certain way," he said. "And I said, so what. I'm going to make it cool to be a Clipper."
His impact on the game was obvious from the outset as LO played 44 minutes in the opener against Seattle and posted a double-double with 30 points and 12 rebounds. He went on to an outstanding first month in the league, earning rookie of the month honors for an opening month in which he averaged 18.6 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game.
LO continued his solid play in the first half and was at his best in January with the All-Star break looming. For the month he averaged 19.1 points, 9.1 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game. In February he was selected to play in the Rookie-Sophomore Game during All-Star Weekend.
In total, Lamar played 76 games for the Clippers during his rookie season, including 70 as a starter. He was recognized as a member of the All-Rookie team and finished the season with averages of 16.6 points, 7.8 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game.
SOPHOMORE STUD: 2000-2001
LO didn't miss a beat from his rookie year into his second NBA season.
He put any speculation about a possible sophomore slump with another great opening month. In November of 2000, Lamar played in 15 games and average 17.5 points, nine rebounds and 5.1 assists per game. The month was highlighted by a 19-point, 15-rebound performance against the defending World Champion Lakers. No. 7 then capped the month with a 16-point, 12-rebound, 11-assist triple-double on November 29 against the Warriors.
Lamar continued through the season at a high pace, setting the bar even higher for himself each month. He was again selected to the rookie-sophomore game in February and spent that month putting up gaudy numbers to the tune of 18.9 points, 7.2 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game.
LA made progress on the court for the season, doubling their win total from a paltry 15 in Lamar's rookie year to 31 in his second season. No. 7 closed out the season hot, averaging 19 points, 7.4 rebounds and 5.6 assists per game in seven April contests. The Clippers won four of those seven games.
JUNIOR IMPAIRMENT: 2001-2002
After avoiding injury for much of his first two seasons in the league, the injury bug bit hard during his third year in the league.
Lamar sprained his wrist early in the 2001-2002 season and was never the same. He averaged just 11.4 points, 6.8 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game in just eight games over the first month of the season.
No. 7 got progressively better in December and January. On December 16th he scored 25 points on 10-of-19 in a win over the Pistons. He topped that number on January 4th with a 27-point outburst in Denver and continued to play well until January 18th in Cleveland, when he aggravated the wrist injury.
He missed the rest of the season, but the Clippers won 39 games and finished in the ninth position in the West, just outside of a playoff spot, five games behind Utah.
SENIOR SCARS: 2002-2003
The wrist injury lingered for Lamar into the 2002-2003 season and forced him to miss the first two months of his fourth NBA year.
He made his season debut on December 28th and scored 21 points in a loss to the Warriors. After a tough night in Philly on New Year's Eve in his second game back (five points, five assists, 10 rebounds) he broke out over his next five games, scoring at least 20 points in each of them.
In five games from January 2-10 of 2003, Lamar averaged 21.4 points, 8.4 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game. But most impressive during that span was Lamar's efficiency, as he knocked down better than 53 percent of all shots he took. He played consistently well in February and March, averaging better than 14 points and nearly six rebounds per game.
His breakout game of the season was March 24 when he scored 30 points on 13-of-18 and grabbed 10 rebounds against Houston. But the Clippers lost the game, part of a four-game slide. Even with Lamar back in the fold for the final four months, the Clips took a step back in the season and won just 27 games, far from the playoff expectations they had built in the previous two years.
After his fourth season in LA, both Lamar and the Clippers decided to move on and he signed a contract with the Heat. LO went on to a great season with the Heat and then moved back to LA with the Lakers, where he won two championships in seven seasons. Over that same span, the Clippers made the postseason just once in 2005-2006.
But nine years after letting Lamar go, the Clippers seem to finally have it right now with a squad built around stars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. This offseason they reacquired Lamar from Dallas with an eye on catapulting a team that made the postseason last year into a title contender. Training camp begins Friday.
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