When the Los Angeles Lakers opted to sign 36-year old vet Antawn Jamison to replace Matt Barnes as their sixth man, the move was met with tempered optimism. Sure, Jamison was coming off of averaging 17.2 ppg for the Cleveland Cavaliers last season, but he shot just .403 from the field, the lowest of his career. The 2011-12 Cavaliers were a young team, but that doesn’t dispel the questions of if Jamison had lost a step or two.
Jamison came to Los Angeles on a one-year, $1.3 million deal to add scoring to the Lakers bench, something the franchise has been lacking for the better half of the past decade. Jamison started out this season struggling, averaging just 3.8 ppg in since fired Mike Brown’s hybrid Princeton offense. He played much the same under interim coach Bernie Bickerstaff.
But now with Mike D’Antoni running the show and a fast-paced offense, Jamison is finally beginning to play like he is capable. After registering just 14 minutes of playing time in D’Antoni’s first two games as coach, Jamison has picked it up and has contributed 17.5 ppg, 11.5 rpg and shooting .636 from the field while splitting time with Pau Gasol as a stretch PF and occasional minutes on the wing.
D’Antoni’s system is the perfect fit for Jamison. Jamison is adept at cutting to the basket and has one of the NBA’s best touches in the paint. Jamison also can knock down three-pointers like a small forward, which is an asset D’Antoni utilized for years with his Phoenix Suns teams. D’Antoni’s hiring was a match made in heaven for Jamison’s skill set.
Can Jamison keep up this pace for the remainder of the season? Maybe not, but if his play can level off somewhere between 12-15 points and 5-7 rebounds a night, Jamison’s signing will pay great dividends in the Lakers quest for their 17th title.