In 1997, Odom was the #1 ranked High School All-American in the United States, and had earned a good reputation among basketball scouts for his excellent ball-handling and passing ability despite his size (208 cm, 6 ft 10 in).
Odom declared his eligibility for the NBA Draft after his freshman year at the University of Rhode Island in 1999 and was selected by the Los Angeles Clippers with the fourth pick. In his first season with the Clippers, Odom averaged 16.6 points, 4.2 assists, and 7.8 rebounds per game and was named to the 2000 NBA All-Rookie First Team.
Odom spent four seasons with the Clippers before signing a six-year, USD $65 million contract with the Miami Heat. Odom averaged 17.1 points, 4.1 assists and 9.7 rebounds during the 2003-04 season, helping the Heat to a playoff berth.
In the 2004 offseason, he was sent to the Los Angeles Lakers as part of a trade that brought center Shaquille O'Neal to Miami. In his first year with the Los Angeles Lakers, Lamar and Kobe Bryant, Bryant being a top 5 NBA talent in 2004, never established the chemistry analysts might have expected the two dynamic players might to build. The Lakers finished out of the playoffs for only the 4th time in franchise history.
Following the disappointment of missing the playoffs, the Los Angeles Lakers hired former coach Phil Jackson in the 2005 offseason, in the hope that the "Zen Master" could mold Odom into a Scottie Pippen-type player to run his triangle offense. In the first half of the 2005-06 NBA season, Odom has displayed inconsistency while playing with the Lakers. However, as Los Angeles progressed towards the NBA playoffs, Odom stepped his game up and became a much more efficient and capable complement to Bryant in the second. This continued in the playoffs where he averaged 19.1 ppg 11.0 rpg and 4.9 apg in 7 games.