Lakers report card: Antawn Jamison provided a solid presence despite various obstacles

This is the seventh in a series grading the Lakers’ efforts on the 2012-13 season.

Player: Antawn Jamison, Lakers forward

How he performed: Averaged 9.4 points on 46.4 percent shooting and 4.8 rebounds in 21.5 minutes through 76 regular season games; Averaged 7.3 points on 43.5 percent shooting and 1.8 rebounds in 19.8 minutes through four playoff games.

The Good:Team accounts described Jamison as the Lakers’ second best off-the-ball player behind Kobe Bryant for a number of reasons. Jamison seamlessly snuck through the cracks of any defense so well that Bryant affectionately described him as a “cockroach.” Steve Blake marveled at how quickly Jamison slipped off of screens to set himself up for an open shot. Everyone mused how Jamison’s ridiculously ugly flip shot usually remained effective.

Jamison’s numbers this season may have marked a steep drop off from his career averages (18.8 points). But consider he often played more minutes (35.2) and that his shooting numbers this season (46.4%) boded similar to the ones he averaged through 16 seasons (45.2%). Jamison ensured such efficiency in a number of ways. According to NBA.com, Jamison took the plurality of his shots (169 out of 422) in the restricted area and converted on 63 percent of such attempts. After initially taking frustration at Mike D’Antoni sitting him for six consecutive games (more on that later), Jamison stopped playing tentatively and looked more for his shot whenever he touched the ball. His reliable jump shot created better floor spacing for Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard to operate inside. For a team incredibly battered with injuries, Jamison also deserves credit for playing through and sometimes thriving in the last five weeks of the regular season nursing a sprained right wrist.

All those qualities enabled Jamison to score a season-high 33 points November against Denver, having 25 double-digit performances in the team’s 28-12 finish to close out the regular season. Considering the Lakers acquired him at the veteran’s minimum worth $1.4 million, Jamison’s performances yielded an overall net positive.

The Bad: It’s no secret that Jamison’s defense remains horrific. That’s why general manager Mitch Kupchak didn’t hesitate one bit in poking fun at Jamison’s biggest weaknesses when the Lakers introduced him last offseason. So, yes, Jamison’s lack of athleticism hardly helped the Lakers’ struggles in stopping teams with transition. His lacking discipline on defensive rotations often left both Gasol and Howard on an island when opponents slashed to the basket. But this problem became even worse when Jamison couldn’t manufacture enough offense to offset his defensive issues. For 32 regular-season games, Jamison shot below 50 percent from the field, a trend that seriously undermined the Lakers’ bench.

It also appeared that the dynamic between Jamison and D’Antoni never worked. After sitting out for six consecutive games in later December through early January, Jamison openly questioned D’Antoni’s thought process. Jamison’s always been considered a consummate professional, but his honesty revealed a disconnect between D’Antoni communicating with him. That frustration boiled over when the two openly yelled at each other before Jamison checked into a game in Houston. The relationship involved well enough for the two to co-exist. But despite Jamison’s overall productivity, it appeared he never found a consistent comfort level with the Lakers.

Grade: B. Considering his diminished role and his wrist injury, Jamison still largely lived up to his job description. But it’s unlikely Jamison will return to the Lakers. They would like to find a younger and more athletic reserve. Meanwhile, Jamison strongly suggested he’s more inclined to sign somewhere closer to his children in Charlotte, N.C. and that he’s not interested in re-signing at the veteran’s minimum.

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Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at mark.medina@dailynews.com

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