Jordan Farmar Is Earning The Backup PG Spot

Kurt —  December 20, 2009

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Shannon Brown is the crowd favorite. His dunks ignite the Lakers faithful like only Kobe with the game on the line can do — heck, they have their own Web site and twitter following. But more than that, he has shown potential on defense, potential under pressure situations. Shannon Brown, a relatively quiet person by nature, is getting a big outpouring of love in Los Angeles.

But, based on the last few weeks, Jordan Farmar has been the one winning the backup point guard job. The guy half the Lakers fan base wants to trade away has been staking his case to be kept after the season, or at least as too valuable to give up if the Lakers want to win a title again this year.

In the past 10 Lakers games Jordan Farmar is shooting 60.5% (eFG%) to Shannon Brown’s 43.4%, and his numbers are better from three (a key role for the PG in the triangle). Farmar is also leading slightly in assists and steals.

But the stats tell only a portion of the story (as always): Right now Jordan Farmar is running the offense better than he ever has, he is making smarter decisions on when to attack the paint, and the team is generally playing better with him in the game as the backup PG. Darius noted that after the Utah game a week ago:

He’s moving the ball well. He’s attacking the paint and not settling for too many jumpers. He’s creating for himself and his teammates all while playing to his strengths. And, most importantly, he’s playing better defense. Deron Williams has always been a real problem for Jordan. And based off that history, you saw Phil go to WOW as the PG to match up with Deron in the middle part of the game. But, in the 4th quarter when we went on that run, Phil went to Jordan and he delivered. Soon enough, it was Farmar pestering Williams – using his speed and athleticism to cut off driving angles and challenge shots. Jordan played inspired ball last night and he deserves a load of credit for his contributions to this win.

Does this mean Farmar has turned a corner with the offense and the Lakers? We’re a ways from me totally buying in to that, Farmar himself has talked about the Lakers triangle offense is “not in his wheelhouse.” He still over-dribbles at times and breaks out of the offensive sets more than I’d like. He was one of the guys who was not spectacular against the Pistons, going 1-6 from the floor, but he was a +4 on the night. But Brown seemed to struggle with his whole game, 1-9 from the floor and just looking out of synch, especially in the fourth quarter, and he finished -13. One game is a small sample size, but that seems to be a trend.

The fact is, Derek Fisher remains the Lakers starter because nobody has stepped up and taken the job away from the old man. Farmar has not, but Brown is farther behind (and getting more time at the two now because he flows better in that role). It’s also something to consider for those people looking to ship Farmar out at the trading deadline as part of a package deal – nobody on this team is showing they can replace him right now.

And he seems to be getting better as the season goes on.