I’ve been following the NBA religiously for the past 17 years, a time period that covers Antawn Jamison’s entire career. I knew little to nothing about the man until today. My only memories of Antawn are when he went toe to toe with Kobe when he was a Wizard. It felt like Kobe and Antawn scored 50 apiece anytime the Wizards and Lakers met in the mid 2000s. From 2009 til now I completely forgot about the guy and now he’s a Laker. He's also 36 years old. I read two profiles today that filled in the blanks for me. The first one can be found on Grantland written by Jay Caspian King and argues that Antawn has had a borderline hall of fame worthy career and that all he needs now is championship with the Lakers. I know that Antawn was good but damn that seemed like a reach to me. I looked up his numbers on Basketball reference to confirm. He was good for a long time and was rewarded with two all-star appearances andthat seems about right to me. He was good but never great and at no point was he an elite player in the NBA. The article it self is decent, it is built on the idea that Antawn was a great college player whose greatness has been overlooked in the NBA(Jamison was great in collgege but so was Adam Morrison). Jay contends that Jamison’s combination of scoring and rebounding make him hall of fame worthy and all Jamison was/is missing is a great team. James Worthy is mentioned and it is pointed out that Antawn has better numbers than James had. They’re actually about the same(except James played better in the playoffs). James was on title teams and Antawn wasn’t. Those titles have a lot to do with why James Worthy is in the hall and maybe if Antawn played with a Kobe Bryant or another great star he’d have racked enough big moments to qualify. Maybe. One thing I’m certain of is that Antawn will not get there based off his play with the Lakers now.
That’s because I read another post today from Gothic Ginobili by Aaron McGuire(his player profiles are uniformly awesome) that stated plainly that Antawn isn’t good anymore. He’s alright on offense, but that’s it. He’s not just bad at defense but the worst defender in the NBA. ESPN’s John Hollinger confirms it in his player profiles. I don’t think that Antawn will sink the Lakers defense mainly because they also added the best defender in the league this off-season as well. I also don’t think he’ll do a whole lot offensively for the Lakers. He can score still but he only shot 40% from the field last year. That will improve with Nash passing to him most likely but I don’t see him playing like an all-star again. All the Lakers want him to do is play as close to average as he possibly can and hit some big shots from time to time. Antawn is not James Worthy on the Lakers, he’s Brian Shaw or Rick Fox(I love those guys, btw). Hit the open shot, play some defense (at least try!) and shut up. That's his role.