If there is a more enigmatic NBA player over the last three seasons than Lamar Odom, I certainly don't know who it is. Two seasons ago with the Lakers, in his 12th NBA seasons at the age of 31, he had a career year and won the NBA's Sixth Man Award. After then getting upset over being included in the aborted Chris Paul trade, the Lakers traded him to the Dallas Mavericks for nothing. During his partial season in Dallas he was arguably the worst player in the league (certainly the worst one making over $8M). In fact, he was so bad that the Mavericks asked him to stop showing up to work.

So when the Los Angeles Clippers traded Mo Williams for Odom in the offseason, returning Lamar to the franchise that originally drafted him 13 years earlier, it was clearly a risk. It was universally acknowledged that at a significant portion of Odom's struggles in Dallas were mental; he hadn't gotten his head right since the Lakers first tried to deal him, and he simply wasn't in the right state of mind to play basketball. But there was no guarantee that any of that had changes when he arrived at the Clippers' training facility. Besides, at 33, even if his head was right, his skills might have diminished as well. No one really expected Odom to be as good as he was during his Sixth Man Award season with the Lakers, nor as bad as he was during his lost season in Dallas. But those parameters left a huge gray area in between.

Some alarm bells went off when Odom showed up to training camp overweight, but from his first couple of plays in pre-season anyone who had watched him last season could tell this was not Dallas Odom. In Dallas Lamar simply didn't care -- but he was clearly motivated, perhaps for redemption, from the earliest stages of this season. Once he had played himself into game shape, Odom became the first big off Vinny Del Negro's bench and invariably the second closer in the front court playing alongside Blake Griffin in the fourth quarter of tight games.