Commentary

Biggest X factor: Odom or Perkins?

Debating which player is (quietly) most important to his team's second-round hopes

Originally Published: May 5, 2011
By Chris Broussard and Ric Bucher | ESPN The Magazine
Lamar Odom and Kendrick PerkinsIcon SMILamar Odom and Kendrick Perkins are pivotal figures in their teams' playoff runs.

The only thing Ric Bucher and Chris Broussard like to do more than report on the NBA is argue about the NBA. So we decided to combine those two skills for Insider's weekly One-on-One series, in which they'll debate the hottest topics in the association.

Question: Which player is the biggest X factor in the second round of the playoffs: Lamar Odom or Kendrick Perkins?

BUCHER: The NBA's four second-round matchups seem to have an array of X factor players -- as in, a guy who isn't necessarily a star but who could be the deciding factor in whether his team moves on to the conference finals. Lots of candidates have already made their presence known -- James Jones, Tony Allen, James Harden and Jamal Crawford -- while some still need to stand up and be counted (Glen "Big Baby" Davis). But I'm going to go with Lamar Odom as the most pivotal player in determining whether the Los Angeles Lakers get by the Dallas Mavericks and return to the Western Conference finals.


BROUSSARD: There are three Miami Heat players I could go with -- Mike Bibby, Mike Miller or James Jones -- because one of them has to be on from behind the arc in each game for Miami to beat the Boston Celtics. But I'll go with Kendrick Perkins. We know he isn't going to be impressive statistically -- and he doesn't have to be -- but he must put forth a yeoman's effort guarding Marc Gasol for the Oklahoma City Thunder to prevail. Allowing Gasol to torch him for 20 points and 13 rebounds on 9-of-11 shooting, as he did in OKC's Game 1 loss, will not cut it. The type of D we all have become accustomed to seeing Perk play in Boston is a must for the Thunder. The result in Game 2 was more of a reflection of that.


To read the full debate here, become an ESPN Insider today.

Ric Bucher

NBA Reporter, ESPN The Magazine Senior Writer