Lamar Odom or Matt Barnes: Who Is the LA Lakers’ True Postseason X-Factor?

At some point during the 2010-11 NBA postseason the Los Angeles Lakers will need a player outside of Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol to offer a definitive contribution on the road to a three-peat.

Last season Ron Artest and Andrew Bynum played the role of "x-factors," as their defense, rebounding and timely scoring were major reasons the Lakers were able to capture their second consecutive NBA championship.

But, who will serve that purpose this season?

Bynum's length and Artest's defense will still be crucial components of the Lakers' title defense, but the circumstances this season are a little different.

Few people knew exactly what to expect from Artest in his first postseason as a Laker, but his focus and motivation turned out to be a welcome revelation for Los Angeles.

Bynum was recovering from yet another injury last season, and he was injured again in the Lakers first round series against Oklahoma City. Bynum's ability to play through another knee injury had major implications as his toughness in the post may have been the difference for the Lakers in the 2010 NBA Finals.

This season Artest appears to be more comfortable in the Lakers schemes, and he seems to have a better grasp of what is expected from him. And Bynum is quite possibly healthier than he has ever been heading into the playoffs, and he is playing with new-found intensity and aggressiveness.

So barring unforeseen circumstances, the Lakers postseason x-factor this year will come from a different group of players and the most likely candidates are forwards, Lamar Odom and Matt Barnes.

Odom's career could be described as a perpetual x-factor since he has never seemed to be able to match his superior talents to his motivation.

Odom may be the most skilled player in the entire league, but fans have only been treated to glimpses of his potential due to inconsistency.

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