In Lamar’s Words: Guarding Dirk

Lamar Odom Dirk NowitzkiPrior to Wednesday’s game against Dallas, we sat down with Lamar Odom to discuss guarding one of the NBA’s best scorers of today and the last decade, Dirk Nowitzki.

I first asked Odom where his focus lies in playing Nowitzki, who has such a unique skill set:

You have to play the percentages, but it’s tough because in this game, you can’t have someone scoring in the paint. The contradiction of it all is that you have to make him take jump shots, and that just happens to be where he’s most comfortable. You just try to contest them and try to make him finish at the rim, which goes against all the rules of defense. He’s such a great scorer – he’s really good in the middle of the court. If you’ve watched NBA basketball in the last three of four years, you’ve had players post up in the middle of the floor, where it’s really hard to double-team. Dirk has a tremendous spin move and step-back (move) that at seven feet you can’t really guard … just contest it.

I was also curious how Odom thinks about dealing with Dirk in transition, because (as Odom explains) as a big man, Odom will often be responsible to sprint back on defense to get to the paint, which against Nowitzki can sometimes be fatal:

Dirk is a good defensive rebounder, and you have to be aware of where he’s at. Because he’ll grab the board, kick it (out) and then jog up the court. Sometimes as a power forward one of your responsibilities is to guard the basket, so he gets the rebound, passes it, you bust your (butt) to try to get back to the basket and protect the basket and there he is trailing for what just happens to be his strength, the three-point shot.