Digging Deeper at the Point

Darius Soriano —  March 13, 2010

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On Thursday, Silver Screen and Roll (a great site, by the way) put up a post that spoke about how much Derek Fisher is hurting the Lakers and asked the question of whether he was hurting the team more on offense or defense.  It was well written and brought up a lot of good points about Fisher and how his performance has impacted the Lakers.  However, Phillip (while linking to the post in the morning links) mentioned that he thought the Fisher piece was unfair, and I pretty much agree with that.  Not because the stats cited are incorrect or framed the argument a certain way, but because it scapegoated Fisher for our PG woes when all three of our PG’s (if you count Shannon, which I hesitate to do because of all the time he spends at SG, but will for these purposes) have been different shades of bad for most of the season.

Before we get to the core stats, throughout this post you’ll notice I mention usage several times.  For the season, here are the usage rates for our three point guards: Fisher (13.96), Farmar (19.30), Brown (18.53).  Now, on to the rest of the post.

Let’s take another look at the statistics.  Below are the PER For and Against for all three players (as PG’s only):

Fisher: 10.4 for , 18.5 against
Farmar: 15.1 for, 15.8 against
Brown: 13.2 for, 20.0 against

These numbers show that Farmar is our best PG in terms of PER for and against.  Being that Farmar’s usage is the highest, though, that makes sense to me because he’s using more possessions and doing (slightly) more with them.  I mean, PER is a compilation of box score stats that are weighted more towards offense and Farmar is the most dynamic offensive PG that we have.  Farmar’s PER against is interesting too, though, because while I give Farmar credit for showing flashes of improved defense, he’s still not that effective, consistently, on that side of the ball.  Plus, as those folks that knock Fisher consistently reiterate, Fisher plays more minutes with the starters.  This fact is often used to show how he benefits from playing with better teammates, but what is rarely mentioned is that he also faces better players as he’s playing a lot (if not the majority) of his minutes against the other team’s starters.  I understand that this leads to the argument that if Farmar played with the starters that we’d see even better production, but circular arguments like those are difficult to prove so I really don’t give those statements much credence.  Plus, there have been too many times this season where, in games that are close at the end, Phil goes back to Fisher in the closing lineup because the opposing starting PG is in the game and that guy is giving Farmar fits defensively (most recently against Toronto).  So, does Farmar have a lower PER against because he’s facing lesser opponents (and vice versa for Fish)?  I’m not saying that is the case, but it’s a question worth asking.  (On a side note, look at Shannon’s PER against.  It’s worse than Fisher’s.  I think there’s a reason that we’ve seen him play mostly SG this season beyond his inability to organize the offense consistently.)

Now let’s judge the three by individual offensive and defensive rating:

Fisher:  104 – Off. , 105 – Def.
Farmar: 105 – Off., 105 – Def.
Brown:  106 – Off., 104 – Def.

Based off these numbers, Shannon is the best player out of the three, but understand that these numbers are the product, primarily, from his playing time as a SG – the position that he plays for the majority of his minutes (which is why I questioned including him at all in this comparison).  So, if we limit this comparison to just Fisher and Farmar, they’re both, essentially, the same in both individual offensive and defensive rating.  For all the heat that Fisher is taking (which is deserved based off his shooting and at times sketchy decision making), where is the same level of heat for Jordan?  He’s slightly better on offense (with a much higher usage, mind you, so is being slightly better actually helping a team where the PG needs to be the 4th option at almost all times?) and is just as poor on defense.   And even though, as pointed out in the SSR post, this is just a team stat broken down to the individual level and is a product of the lineups that players play in, all of our point guards spend the majority of their minutes sharing the court with at least 3 of the following players: Kobe, Artest, Odom, Gasol, and Bynum.  Now, if Luke Walton had been healthy this season and had actually seen significant minutes, these defensive numbers might mean something different.  But with Luke out, our bench lineup is typically Farmar, Shannon, Kobe (or Ron), and two of Odom/Gasol/Bynum.  And since Fisher plays with these exact same players for most of his minutes, I really don’t think an argument can be made that the lineups that these guys play with are that different.

Now let’s look at wins shares for both offense (OWS) and defense (DWS)

Fisher: 0.8 – OWS, 2.4 – DWS
Farmar: 0.9 – OWS, 1.6 – DWS
Brown: 1.1 – OWS, 1.9 – DWS

These numbers basically show that Fisher contributes to more wins, because of defense, than Farmar or Brown, and his offense is essentially the same as Farmar’s while slightly behind Brown.  But, because Fisher has the lowest usage of all three players you could also argue that his poor offense hurts less than the other two players’ (almost as) poor offense because Fish isn’t using up as many possessions as the other guys.  Fisher, despite his poor-ish decision making is still not forcing his individual offense nearly as much as Farmar or Shannon.  I think this matters.  Now, I understand that the flip side of that coin is that Farmar and Brown are much more diverse offensive players that give you much more pop on the offensive side of the ball.  And since Fisher’s primary role is to provide outside shooting, if he’s not doing that well, his value suffers a great deal.  And if Farmar or Brown aren’t shooting well from the outside, they can create off the dribble or get out in the open court.  All of this is true and these are the reasons that these guys do have value for us.  However, the PG in our system still needs to do certain things on offense.  And if Brown/Farmar aren’t hitting the long ball, they too become somewhat of a liability on offense.  And, if they eschew the long ball (because it’s not their strength or because they’re missing) in favor of creating offensive looks for themselves off the dribble, I would argue that their (sometimes) success at those plays still can have a negative impact on our overall offense due to the lack of team play that’s involved in playing this way.

So, now, tell me who is clearly the better player.  And also tell me that it matters more that Fisher is playing above Farmar or Brown at PG when they’re all below average this year at that position.  I’m not going to defend any of these guys, but don’t scapegoat Fisher in a way that points out how awful he is and then not even mention that his replacements, when measured using the same stats, are just as bad.  This is why I thought the piece over at SSR was a bit unfair.  It paints a picture of Fisher that is accurate, but doesn’t tell the fans that he’s also in there for a reason – his replacements aren’t much better (while Fisher’s leadership and organization of the team is better).  And even if you conclude the Farmar/Brown are better, are they that much better that they should be playing over Fisher when their high usage rates are ones that take possessions away from our most efficient players?  When their usage rate(s) also imply that, in a read and react system, they’re ones that aren’t passing as much or operating within the flow of the offense as much as they need to be?  This is what Kurt, Reed, and I were saying earlier this season when we talked about our PG woes as a whole.  Again, I’m not trying to start some sort of argument with the guys over at SSR.  Those guys are great and I frequent their site quite often.  I just think there is another side to this coin that needs to be mentioned whenever any of our PG’s are brought up, especially those comments that target Fisher.

Look, I don’t like to knock our players.  Despite all their flaws, they are the guys that we have and I support them; I want to see them succeed and root for them to do so.  But, facts are facts here and PG is our weak link.  I do think the situation will be addressed in the off-season, but until then I’m going to support these guys and cheer them on in the same way I do for Kobe or Pau or Odom.  I just think that if we’re going to look at any one player we should also look at the big picture too.

(All stats for this post were gathered from HoopData, Basketball Reference, and 82games.com)

Darius Soriano

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to Digging Deeper at the Point

  1. Great analysis Darius. It was about time we had an extended talk about our point guards.
    Although stats can be telling some of the truth I believe and trust my eyes much more. Our PG position manned by Derek the last couple of years, at least, has been there for the taking and Farmar (the only other PG imo) has not done or shown enough so that the coaching staff would reward him by giving him the starting role over Derek.
    This is why he is starting for us:
    1. Derek runs the offense better
    2.Makes more/better entry passes
    3.takes charges/commits hard fouls when needed
    4.Boxes out/sets better screens
    5.Does not defer to Kobe
    6.Does not let his head hang when things don’t go his way
    7. Fights through screens
    8.Does not need the ball in his hands to opperate
    9.Moves better without the ball.
    All the above are derived from actually watching games and not box scores and stats as all of those little-big things don’t show up there.
    Although far from perfect at his age due to his lack of speed and 3 point accuracy he is indeed better than Jordan. And if PJ and Kobe are fine with him why cant you?


  2. Darius,
    Would it be possible to have a second set of the links to the previous and subsequent posts, immediately after the last comment?


  3. Some of this combination of comments about Fish were taking place in 2000-04. This is really not a new topic. The question you have to ask yourself is why have we been unable to draft/sign an average to above average PG?

    Could the triangle have anything to do with it? That is my contention. We really can’t use a waterbug who dominates the ball – dishing when someone comes open from all their (the PG’s) movement – that isn’t the triangle. PGs don’t want to sign here because they will just be the 5th spoke on the wheel. We don’t want to pay them what others will because they are the 5th spoke on the wheel. Drafting PG stars to play unhappily for 3-4 years doesn’t seem a good idea.

    I feel we will probably always be successful with older players who aren’t trying to make a name for themselves, but just want to win. We need the Ron Artest of PGs.


  4. P.S. Magic was the last PG to consistently win for a team and he wasn’t exactly a prototypical PG. Tony Parker was the center of that team for exactly 1 title and Tim Duncan and Ginobli weren’t exactly chopped liver. Another question you might want to ask yourself is — why are the talking heads so enamored with the PG? Maybe, just maybe, it is because they dominate the ball so much.

    This just might not be such a good thing for consistently pursuing titles.


  5. #1
    I noticed off and on against the Suns that Fisher also takes the time to talk more on defense than a lot of the other players do, and he often seemed to be “directing traffic” on that end of the floor as well. I have never seen Jordan Farmar do that. I also agree with you, that if the coaching staff believed Farmar was the better point guard he’d be playing that position more than Fisher — and he doesn’t.

    I also think Craig W is on to something… point guard might well be our permanently weakest spot, at least as long as we’re running the offense we are, and for the reasons he listed.


  6. #2. exhelodrvr,
    I’ll look into that. I don’t know if that’s a design thing or something else. I’ll ask some of the people that would know.


  7. It appears that we can all agree that Fisher is the best choice of our point guards.

    If he keeps his shots down under 10 a game I would be on the Fisher band wagon the rest of the year.


  8. But you have to question D. Fish decision making this year over years in the past. That is the main reason that he has been catching so much heat from the fans IMO. LA can make up for his physical shortcomings, but the mental aspects he has to stay sharp or criticism will continue.

    You tend to expect Farmar and Brown to make the boneheaded decision because of their short time in the league. But when Fish makes those same mistakes as a veteran, you figure it would be better to play him less minutes and at least give Farmar a chance to get some OJT.


  9. well, yes Craig.
    But just who is the Ron Artest of PGs? A veteran point guard who likes locking down just as much or even more than scoring? Someone who would sacrifice their offensive game a lot for the sake of winning? Someone who would be content mostly with the open 3s. Let’s even forget availability for the sake of it, is there anyone who fits the bill? Chauncey fits a part of it but he isn’t anywhere near what he was a few years ago defensively. Hinrich? Am I missing someone?


  10. I don’t really like the stats you’ve used. PER against is pretty good for point guards, so it’s a decent defensive metric. Individual ORtg and DRtg are pretty bad. Win Shares is a counting stat, so you’re overrating Fisher by using it (600 more minutes)

    You’re also ignoring lineups. Derek Fisher has played around 75% of his minutes with one of the Lakers Big Five (Kobe, Ron, Odom, Pau, Bynum of course). Farmar has only played about 10% of his minutes – 120 – with 4 of those guys. In fact, he has less than 2 minutes with the lineup of Kobe, Ron, Pau, and Bynum.

    With Fisher and four of the big five, the Lakers are outscoring opponents by about eight points per 100 possessions. Really, really good of course.

    With Farmar, the rate is 20.

    Of course, huge caveats: Farmar is likely not lined up against the other team’s best players, and it’s in only 120 minutes, so it probably doesn’t mean a whole lot.

    But the lineups thing make it hard to make direct statistical comparisons.

    Edited for grammar!


  11. With Fisher and four of the big five, the Lakers are outscoring opponents by about points per 100 possessions. Really, really good of course.

    You forgot a number somewhere in there. 🙂


  12. DirtySanchez,
    Sorry, the time in league doesn’t wash any more. They both have 4 years in the league – same as Brandon Roy. Shannon has had a year with the triangle, including a summer to bone up on things. They both should be doing better if they were any kind of starting material in the NBA. Fish’s 4th year was 2000 and we weren’t making excuses for him then.

    To repeat – I do not expect Farmar or Shannon to make boneheaded decisions. They may happen, but there are no excuses for these guys any more.

    Yup! They ain’t out there. The type of PG/guard who can thrive in the triangle is just not very available. Sort of like dominating centers these days – pretty soon they may be simply a memory.


  13. I might have forgotten a number, but they are outscoring them by points per 100 possessions. So that’s pretty good at least 🙂

    Edit: the number is eight by the way, I did insert that.


  14. Aaah! Okay, I get it now. I misunderstood the way you phrased it. Never mind, I get it. And yes, it is pretty good.


  15. I think we have moved past the argument of “Is Fisher really our best PG?’ It is apparent that he is not. Yes Brown and Farmar are better… but the problem is they too are still really bad PG’s. I guess at least Brown is a good defender.

    My problem with the organization (and its hard to knock them because of all the money they have spent for all this talent) is that the best way to upgrade the PG spot was to use the expiring contracts of Fisher and Ammo while throwing in Farmar and a #1 pick for a quality PG. Now how are we going to get a good PG? We have bad picks and not many of them and nobody signs a good PG with the MLE. Maybe we can get lucky and sign an average one? It will be slim pick-ins.

    I mean we could always play a lineup of Lamar, Kobe. Artest, Gasol, and Bynum more often especially to close games when contests in the playoffs slow to a crawl. I mean the fact that Phil Jackson has never even tried that lineup once is a slap in the face to his players, the fans, the entire league, and the basketball gods.


  16. 12. Craig W.

    I dont excuse them for making mistakes, I believe they should be held accountable like everyboby else. But when they do I relate it to being young and trying to find themselves in the league as any young player has too.

    Fish on the other hand has been in the league and is not trying to find his role on a championship team, its already been established. He has been on multiple championship teams and should know better than the youngsters.


  17. How is it teams like Golden State and New Orleans have 2 good point guards.

    Remember in pre-season when there was talk of trying LO at the point?


  18. #10. I believe I addressed the question of line ups in the post. Both Fisher and Farmar, for a huge portion of their minutes, play with 3 of our big 5. Farmar often plays next to Brown in the back court, but the other three players are almost always 3 of Kobe/Ron/LO/Pau/Bynum (save for garbage time). Does Fisher benefit from most of his minutes having that other member of the big 5? Yes, but is it that big a difference? Considering Farmar’s usage rate compared to Fishers, I don’t think so.


  19. who cares about all these stats?do people really expect Fish to have a career season? Hey, that guy is not in his prime anymore:) i thought from a deep perspective, he has done a pretty good job in his role with this team..and its not just about stats..but being the right guy in the locker room


  20. 15, I know I shouldn’t expect as much, but I would think that Darius’ post would at least make you slightly question your assertion that Fisher is our worst PG, or at least come up with some sort of counterpoint, but that may be asking too much.

    And about trading for PG’s, it takes 2 to tango, and no team wants to make the Lakers better and get branded like Chris Wallace. What team wants 10 mil in expiring contracts, an average point guard, and a low first round pick?


  21. 17, because they’re terrible at every other position.


  22. I know some people have given up completly on him but what about Sasha?I believe he can be all we need for the PG position if he stays with the Lakers.
    Aside from some silly fouls(also due to his reputation) he has what it takes for our system.I believe his shooting will come back if given the time and opportunity,he likes to play the point according to him, plays defense and as of late he is making the right decisions and not rushing things on offense. Playing along with starters and knowing that he is not relied upon to score as a backup sg will have a calming effect to his game.it is a lot different to know that you are in the game to organise the offense and hit open shots when availiable as option nr 5 and completely different to come in the game trying to fill in for Kobe. If he was not hurt recently i think that Phil would have given this a shot.
    That of course creates another problem. The backup sg will have to be exclusively for Brown, and i don’t know how comfortable Phil would be with that.


  23. Hard to knock Sasha when he has the hottest girlfriend in the league.

    Got to be worth something.


  24. Zephid,
    Do you know what team wants 10 million in expiring contracts? About 85% of the league. Most of the league is bleeding money and most would love to get rid of good PG’s that are being paid like they are Deron Williams.

    And how could anyone look at all those stats and look at all these games and think Derek Fisher is the Lakers best PG? Now if I was good friends with Derek and he was my PG that I coached on 3 championship teams over the course of 8 seasons and my heart melted every time I saw those glistening biceps… maybe then I could think he was the teams best PG. Or I would wait till late in the season to replace him to give the team a jump in talent to get us rolling into the post-season ala Trevor Ariza replacing Luke Walton at the end of last year. Those are my two educated guesses.


  25. Darius –

    Yeah, no offense, but you’re misusing some of the stats, most particularly win shares. Win shares isn’t a rate stat, so Fish’s lower usage rate doesn’t push his numbers down. A better calculation would be win shares per minutes played. Also, dunno where you got your WS numbers, but they’re off for Fish’s OWS (he has 1.0 on BBR). In thousands of a winshare/minute –

    Fish has played 1815 minutes, and has 3.4 WS: 1.87 WS/min
    Farmar has played 1193 minutes, and has 2.5 WS: 2.1 WS/min
    Brown has played 1324 minutes, and has 3.0 WS: 2.27 WS/min.

    For reference, Kobe is at 3.71, Odom is at 3.1, Artest is at 2.17, and Sasha is at 3.52 (!).

    Also, the usage rates for Brown and Farmar still aren’t particularly high. They both use less than 1/5th of the possessions available when on the court. If anything, I’d argue Fisher’s usage rate being SO low doesn’t mean he hurts the team less – it means he is effectively forcing the Lakers to go 4-on-5 most of the time, because he’s such a small portion of the offense (remember, usage rate also accounts for assists and turnovers) that teams rarely even have to account for him. In fact, his low usage rate actually MASKS some of his problems. For example, he has a HIGHER turnover percentage (12.2%) than both Farmar (11.8%) and Brown (9.8% – probably somewhat depressed by his time at SG) – but his usage rate is so low, he doesn’t turn the ball over much simply because he never touches it! His assist rate (12.8%) is also worse than Farmar’s (13.8%), though better than Brown’s (10.6% – again, probably depressed from SG).

    Some other numbers:

    Fisher has the lowest points/36min total on the team, including Mbenga, Walton, and Morrison. Farmar and Brown are 4th and 5th, respectively. For a guy who’s known for his ‘veteran savvy,’ he also collects fouls at the 2nd-highest rate of any main rotation player (his 3.4/36 is right behind Bynum’s 3.5 – Mbenga averages 6). He’s the worst rebounder on the team, and his FG% is better than only Powell and Morrison. Even when factoring in his 3-pt shooting and excellent foul shooting, he’s still the worst main rotation player on the team in both eFG% and TS%.

    The issue with Fisher that I have (and I think others) is this: he remains in the main rotation due to claims of his wisdom and savvy. But he’s the worst PG on the roster in many “foolish” categories: he has the highest turnover rate, is a worse passer, commits more fouls, and shoots worse (and, as SSR highlighted, has TERRIBLE shot selection).

    Additionally, here’s his “close-and-late” stat line (per48) from 82games:

    104 minutes played (among the Lakers, only Bryant and Odom – oddly enough – have more).

    9.2 FGA, 35%(!) FG%, 2.8 3PA, 33.3% 3P%, 2.8 FTA, 66% (!!!!!) FT%, 2.8 Reb, 1.8 assists (these are PER FOURTY-EIGHT).

    I’m sorry. That’s awful. That is horrendously, terribly, awful. Even in the statistics he’s supposed to be good at: clutch shooting, clutch 3-point shooting, clutch FREE THROWS, and good passing (admittedly, he gets a partial pass here because Kobe tends to dominate the ball in the backcourt).

    There is no single thing that Fisher does that can’t be replaced, by a player who is younger (so theoretically would improve going forward, even during the season itself), cheaper, and better. Even a marginal improvement is still an improvement:

    “Hey, we have this guy who is EXACTLY as bad as Derek Fisher, but he’s 11-12 years younger, taller, more athletic, and less expensive. Who should we give the greater number of minutes?”


  26. 24, Why is Phil still giving the starting job to Derek according to you? Remember, man love is not a valid reason.


  27. Nothing we say will matter. Fish is our starting point guard for this season.

    Now if they resign him and he starts next year then I will yell like a crazy man.


  28. Wrote a loooong comment that’s awaiting moderation, but forgot to include this:

    ORtg and DRtg are pretty suspect, in my opinion. According to them, Ron Artest is the weakest wing defender on the team, and Kobe Bryant (ORtg 110) should be passing the ball more often to not only Gasol (118) and Bynum (117), but Sasha Vujacic (114).


  29. Fisher really did look pretty slow trying to keep up with Nash around those picks last night. Unfortunately, I believe the only way Fisher doesn’t come back next season is if we don’t win the championship. If we don’t win it then I believe we will see wholesale changes including, Fisher, Farmar and Shannon not being resigned. Also, I could see the whole Bosh acquisition becoming a reality.

    As bad as he is defensively, I believe Fisher actually does a better job at managing the team than Brown and Farmar. Those two just seem to be too aggressive at times. They haven’t realized that there aren’t enough shots to go around for them to be jacking up contested shots.


  30. In Fisher’s defense, as I said before the game, very few point guards in the league can keep up with Steve Nash.

    This whole discussion about Fisher and how much our point guards sucks reminds me of a movie I saw on TV last night. Gene Hackman plays a high school basketball coach who initially no one likes, but he takes the school team to win the championship in the end, and he becomes a big hero. You might have heard of it, it’s a pretty good movie.

    Anyway, there’s a scene early in the movie where the school boos the team because the local star isn’t on the roster, and Gene Hackman tells them to quit whining and just support the team, instead of focusing on criticizing the roster.

    We don’t get to pick and choose who is on our team. We don’t get to pick and choose who starts, who is signed, or who is let go. No matter how eloquently we type, how much html-code or Caps Lock we use, we have no influence at all. Which, given our constant mood swings, probably is a good thing.


  31. Darius,

    Thanks for the reply.

    With regards to Jordan Farmar’s usage…

    His true shooting percentage is fourth on the team. I don’t know how that changes things for you, but Artest and Odom aren’t exceptional offensive players. So most of the time Jordan is probably the “third option,” or really he’s one of three third options on the floor.

    Edit: While Fisher is always the fifth option. Or sixth. Kobe is the first two options!


  32. Aaron,
    Hate to be the one to break it to you, but the Lakers are not going to take on extra salary to get a very good PG. That is not required in the triangle and there is enough cash being spread around the other positions.

    I think the idea of Sasha as a backup PG is now being explored by Phil. We will see.

    However, Farmar is not the solution.


  33. Mimsy –

    “We don’t get to pick and choose who is on our team. We don’t get to pick and chose who starts, who is signed, or who is let go.”

    This is very true. But it’s a bit of a knee-jerk defense to any criticism. You’re effectively telling anybody who is critical of a roster/coaching decision: “Just support the team! You can’t change anything anyway!”

    Choosing to support the team and being aware of an inability to affect personnel decisions doesn’t automatically mean I must agree with everything done, and that if I -didn’t- agree that I have no right to voice said disagreement.

    You’re absolutely right in that many people take things way too far. “Player X is garbage!” type posts are totally valueless. But there are those of us who, I’d like to think, reinforce our viewpoints with data or analysis, that actually supports a point of view that differs from the methods employed by the actual team.

    Phil Jackson is arguably the greatest coach of all time. He is not, however, infallible. Neither are any of the players. And it is not some sort of blasphemy to point out instances in which they *may* be making mistakes. I’m not so personally arrogant as to believe everything I say is right – but to turn your point a bit: as we DON’T in fact have any say in the running of the team, those of us who may be wrong aren’t actually hurting it at all by our statements. At WORST we’re simply venting. At best, we might be enlightening ourselves (in our research), those who disagree with us (who must do their own research to refute our claims – see Darius’s original post), and our fellow fans to an alternative way to view the game, and the team.

    Heaven forbid.


  34. Agree with Craig. Farmer is a fast break guy not a triangle guy. I would be shocked if his ego allows him back next year.

    Fish may at times think he is a better shooter then he is,

    In Farmer mind I feel he thinks he should be a star in this league.


  35. ken, you mean you haven’t been yelling like a madman this season yet? I am very afraid!!!

    It reminds me of when the Bulls were winning their second three peat and all those people were saying : if they only had a good center…


  36. Oh you don’t want to be around me at games. They are often afraid to take me calls on Laker talk.

    I have my issues with Fish but I don’t see Farmer as an up-grade.

    I am resolved to living this year in a Fish bowl and always remind myself I could have been a Clipper fan.

    You should have heard me in the Smush days. Ouch!


  37. 24, really, 85% of teams? I would like for you to name me 6 teams that have PG’s that make at least 8 mil this season and next season that their respective teams would be willing to trade. By my count, I have New Jersey (Devin Harris), Toronto (Jose Calderon), Chicago (Kirk Hinrich), and Indiana (TJ Ford). So in other words, you’re not just wrong, you’re completely wrong. And that’s not even taking into account that the Lakers would be taking on 18M extra salary and luxury tax for next season.


  38. Chownoir (was J) March 13, 2010 at 6:02 pm

    Bull’s championship years, they had Ron Harper as their Ron Artest PG. A lot of his athleticism was gone due to the injuries, but he still had the length and the smartness. Also he had put time in the Clipper prison so he could really appreciate what he had in the Bulls.

    That said, what type of PG would be available and willing to play for the Lakers? Keeping in mind that I think all of us agree here, Lakers wouldn’t need a superstar. All they would need is an average PG who would play smart, within defensive principles and make the open shot. Someone who isn’t athletically elite, but understands and works with his limitations on defense. On offense, they would just organize and play it safe.

    To me that sounds almost like the qualities of a solid back up PG in most of the league. Almost like a Steve Blake type. Yeah, he’s not athletically gifted but he understands that and doesn’t try to do too much.

    I think the most viable solution to future PG needs is to find that back up PG who is unable to command top dollar. That PG could possibly take just a little less, say 3.5/yr vs 4.5 in exchange for a starting job on a championship contender.

    Anyone with more personnel knowledge willing to come up with some back up PG’s that would fit. Bearing in mind that all the Lakers want to do is upgrade to an average competent role player, they’re not looking for a superstar.


  39. Watching Clip game. More I watch Blake the more I like him.

    Love to see him with Lakers.


  40. I think Blake is the right type of player offensively, but to the best of my knowledge he not a very good defender.


  41. He is not bad and plays smart. Also much better on PR.

    40% shooter on 3’s


  42. #31. I see what you mean about Farmar’s TS%, but my point about usage is more about how he must dominate the ball in order to be effective on offense. If Farmar could replicate his good offense by playing a style that wasn’t so reliant on the P&R and creating off the dribble in isolations, I’d be happier with the results. Don’t get me wrong, I like when he’s making shots but I’d really like it if his offense came more within the flow of our sets.

    #28 and #25. The stats you cite are damning towards Fisher. And like I said in the post, I’m not looking to defend Fisher. He’s played poorly. My point was that the other guards aren’t much better when looking at the entire picture. I mean, you said “There is no single thing that Fisher does that can’t be replaced” and I don’t believe that to be true. Not when we’re talking about Farmar and Brown as the replacements.

    Also, stats only tell part of the story. The point of this post is that it was inspired by the post over at SSR and how that post buried Fisher but didn’t take into account who his replacements are. And when measured by the same stats that are used to measure Fisher (in that post) his replacements aren’t better. If you want my take on all the players, I think they’re being used in the best way that they can be *as a group* to help this team. That means Fisher is best used as a starter and Farmar/Brown are best used as the change of pace players off the bench. I don’t think, based off the stats and by watching, that either Farmar or Brown are truly better solutions than Fisher. Could the minutes be more even? Sure. Fish should be in the 22-26 minutes a game range. But, in order to have his minutes reduced to that level, Farmar and/or Brown need to play well in the minutes that they’re given. I think we can all agree that Phil may be loyal, but he’s not stupid. Even when he was starting Walton or Radman last season, Ariza still closed the games. The better player (or at least the player that is trusted to not make mistakes) will close the games.


  43. 26,
    I listed above my two educated guesses as to why I think Phil is still starting Derek.

    Ariza didn’t close games all of last season and he didn’t close games that much more (it was more though) than Farmar and Brown have closed games throughout this season.

    Pardon the interruption but i never said it would be cheap for the Lakers to add a PG. And it doesn’t have to be at least 8 million… and its the triangle offense so it doesn’t have to be true PG’s. And 85% of teams are trying to dump salary… I didn’t say they had a viable option for us at PG. Here are the players that teams would most likely be trying to dump before the deadline for cap relief…

    Gilbert Arenas
    Baron Davis
    Devin Harris
    Jose Calderon
    Ramon Sessions
    Kevin Martin
    Rodney Stuckey
    Monta Ellis
    Leandro Barbosa
    Rudy Fernandez
    John Salmons
    Ben Gordon

    Some are not perfect fits but they are better fits than Jordan Farmar, Shannon Brown, and Derek Fisher.


  44. Darius (42) –

    “My point was that the other guards aren’t much better when looking at the entire picture. I mean, you said “There is no single thing that Fisher does that can’t be replaced” and I don’t believe that to be true. Not when we’re talking about Farmar and Brown as the replacements.”

    So what does Fisher do that can’t be replaced?

    He’s poor as a clutch player. He turns the ball over more than both of the potential replacements. He’s older, pricier, and has no upside. That was kind of the point of the end of my post #25. I have no problem with those who want to claim Farmar/Brown are no better than Fisher. Fine. But I don’t see evidence that Fisher is -better-. According to PER Farmar is the best by a huge margin. According to O/DRtg and Win Shares, Brown is the best by a small margin (when the fact that win shares are a counting stat is factored in). According to the close-and-late numbers, Fisher has been atrociously bad even in “clutch” situations.

    I don’t see anything that Fisher does that isn’t done better – sometimes MUCH better – by the other two players. They’re also both taller, more athletic, and young enough that they could still improve. I just don’t understand why Fisher gets so much time when there’s a pretty solid argument that AT BEST Fisher is a wash – in which case the long-term outlook still values playing youth over age.

    “I think we can all agree that Phil may be loyal, but he’s not stupid.”

    He’s not stupid – but he may be shortsighted. He’s never had a reputation as a good ‘young player’s coach,’ and has built his championship resume on the backs of pretty exclusively-veteran teams. It’s entirely plausible to me that he could be playing experience over youth because there’s no drop-off for THIS season (I don’t agree, but I do think the difference isn’t huge) – but I think that could have detrimental long-term effects as well.

    I went back and calculated the average age of his 5-highest minute getters in the playoffs for each of his championship teams.

    91 Bulls: 28; youngest of the 5 was Pippen (25)
    92 Bulls: 26.8; youngest of the 5 was Williams (23)
    93 Bulls: 28; youngest of the 5 was Armstrong (25)
    96 Bulls: 31.6 (!); youngest of the 5 was Kerr (30)
    97 Bulls: 31.2; youngest of the 5 was Kukoc (28)
    98 Bulls: 33 (!!); youngest of the 5 was Kukoc (29)
    00 Lakers: 29; youngest of the 5 was Bryant (21)
    01 Lakers: 27.4; youngest of the 5 was Bryant (22)
    02 Lakers: 28.4; youngest of the 5 was Bryant (23)
    09 Lakers: 28.8; youngest of the 5 was Ariza (23)

    For a frame of reference, the 08 Celtics had an average age of 29.

    Jackson’s teams have basically been dominated by veterans. I mean, sheesh – look at that 98 Bulls squad! The man has won 10 titles with them. But that doesn’t mean he’s good at determining when youth should replace experience. The only players he’s done that with were a) Kobe freakin’ Bryant, and b) a player who was in his FIFTH NBA season (remember, Ariza came out after 1 year in college), and had to be asked for the move BY THE PLAYER who got replaced.

    He’s smart. But he’s shown a marked distaste for playing youth, throughout his entire career. He may be overemphasizing it as he himself ages, too.


  45. Aaron,
    One problem with your list – that was alluded to earlier. The guys you are listing are basicly starters on other, more PG oriented teams. This means they command more $ and more ‘ball time’. Neither of these are available with the Lakers. The Steve Blake concept was much more apt.


  46. Warren Wee Lim March 13, 2010 at 7:34 pm

    The Lakers not having a PG all this time also puzzles me. Sure Fish hits some big shots here and there but he also allows old-timers like Chauncey to launch their career nights very late in their careers. Simply put, Fish is the PG only because he is the only other choice.

    If we have to expand the talk a little bit, 2010 free agency is becoming interesting for us. I would contend there are about 3 very good fit guys in there that would really boost our PG offensively and defensively.

    1. Randy Foye – this guy is young, has a lot to learn. But you can’t teach size and he has it. He is offensively gifted but his defense is unproven. Since he is basically a SG in a PG’s body, he gets my nod as our starting PG next season.

    Chemistry will be an issue and Farmar will get in the way. But if he took the Lakers’ full MLE and committed to 3 full seasons with player options for 4th and 5th seasons, Washington will not chase him down.

    2. Ray Felton – he is also one of those very big PGs, almost fat to be more exact. But he also shoots well from downtown and he seems to be intent in leaving Charlotte. He wants to get paid, but in the current economy, I don’t think he will get close to what he is asking for.

    3. Raja Bell – remember Ron Harper? Granting the offense will run like a turtle, but he has the knockdown 3ball and the super D (hope he doesn’t decline too much) and he is the Ron Artest of PGs Craig was referring to. Newsflash, unrestricted FA and ring chasing vet.


  47. we interrupt this discussion to bring you this bulletin: the Knicks are absolutely destroying the Mavs.

    maybe Hollinger really is on (to) something.


  48. 22. Kostas

    I agree with u 100 %. We have our future point guard already, sitting on the bench & not being used accordingly. In my opinion. Sasha is a legit 6’6/6’7, a good (some might say pesky) defender, good shooter (when given the opportunity) and is only 26 yrs old. I can recall when we first drafted Sasha, the coaching staff viewed him as a Phil X type of point guard because of his size & his ability to shoot. Back then, he was a lil’ bit more flashier in his style of play & of course, due to his age, he lacked maturity. But even back then, the one thing that was evident was his shooting stroke & defensive aggressiveness.

    I believe that, if aligned with Kobe, Pau, Ron Ron & Drew, it will allow him to settle in much easier due to the fact that there would be less pressure on him. He’s a career 37% three pt shooter and shoots 88% from the line for his career. Granted, he only shoots 39% overall from the field career wise, but guaranteed, with the previous alignment mentioned, that number would increase dramatically because he would have so many open looks due to teams constantly doubling Kobe, Pau & Drew.

    This year, for reasons I’m not sure of, he’s been under utilized. Phil X, up to this point, just seems to lack faith in him. In the times that he’s been on the court this season, I’ve seen a much more focused Sasha, who’s not making as many mistakes as he’s made in the past & playing much more relaxed. This is due, of course, to his maturity. Given the opportunity, the stroke will return because any true baller will tell u that in order for a shooter to get in their groove, he needs consistent time on the floor. Which creates opportunities.

    So if we want to solve our PG problems, the answer is right there in front of our faces. We need to capitalize on it. The sooner, the better.

    Laker 4 Life


  49. 25 points at home? Amazing


  50. final: 128-94

    I’m gonna have to see the recap to have any chance of understanding that!


  51. Knicks: 128 Mavs: 94. Thank U Manny Pacquiao & Joshua Clottey. It’s obvious the Mavs were more concerned in getting over to Jerry’s World in time to view the fight instead of taking on the NY Bricks.


  52. Chownoir (was J) March 13, 2010 at 7:51 pm

    Hmm, the actual Steve Blake might be available. Are the Clips really going to keep him?

    yeah, he’s not a great defender, but he has other qualities that are solid. Again, anyone that’s needed for that role has to come at a cheap price, they’re backup PG quality. You just want certain attributes and can live with the weaknesses if the attributes are strong enough. In this case the need is for a steady, smart ball handler who knows his limitations, plays within them and can hit the open 3. Boy does that sound like Blake. I’d rather have a guy like that where you know the weaknesses and can work with it than someone who doesn’t stick with the defensive game plan.

    Earlier I was thinking Steve Blake type, not the actual Steve Blake. Reminds me of that Hollywood story where Jeremy Piven went to an audition for a Piven type and he didn’t get casted. He was saying, but I’m the Jeremy Piven type you’re looking for!


  53. How does Steve Nash still play pretty well at his age? He is even older than Fisher. So what do you guys think Lakers will do next year at the PG position then?


  54. I agree with Underbruin about Phil. He is not known for developing young players. That’s one of the biggest knocks on him.


  55. Well I like Blake. 42% 3’s, good ball handler, good passer and seems to have a great tude. Avaraging 7 assists for Clips while only getting about 25 minutes a game.

    Imagine the open 3’s he would get with Lakers.

    Making $4.9 this year. A steal to me.


  56. Free agent talk March 13, 2010 at 8:33 pm



  57. thisisweaksauce March 13, 2010 at 8:36 pm

    Any links for the Pacquiao-Clottey fight?


  58. 43, true, it doesn’t have to be a true PG, but it to be someone the other team is willing to trade. And if you’ll let me cut some of the ridiculousness out of your list, that leaves us with:

    Devin Harris
    Jose Calderon
    Ramon Sessions
    Ben Gordon

    You don’t think that the Lakers went around offering Ammo+Fisher+Farmar+1st rounder for these guys? I’m sure the other teams answered the phone, heard the offer, then slammed the phone down, hard. No way any of those teams trade those guys for the Farmar pu pu platter. There’s a limit to trading talent for expiring contracts.


  59. Simple question March 13, 2010 at 9:39 pm

    off topic question to the old timers here:

    was Smush really as bad as everybody says?

    He took a lot of risks on defense but I also remember him dunking the ball a lot and hitting a lot of 3s.


  60. 59.
    Yes, he was a scare crow who had no brain.


  61. to Q and the other commenter:

    Does anyone care about bringing along talent in the NBA? Do you really care if they bring talent along if it doesn’t mean winning a championship? In this age of free agency, I could care less about developing young players. I’d rather have rings.

    And Phil has the most ever…

    So statistically, Phil Jackson’s success:

    Championships 10

    Development of young players: 0

    Can someone name me a successful coach that “developed” players after 1990??


  62. Zephid,
    I don’t think the names I mentioned were all too ridiculous. Good players are easy to get if you are willing to absorb large contracts now a days. Have you seen the garbage bag full of expiring contracts it takes to get a star player today? Most teams don’t want talent back for their over paid star… all they want is cap relief (aka expiring contracts). And from what was coming out of Lakers camp (who knows what really happens behind the scenes) the Lakers were not exploring the option of using the sizable expiring contracts of Ammo and Fisher to obtain a long term solution at PG. Its not my money to spend but if the Lakers can have this payroll this year… I would think they could keep it for the next 4 seasons. But maybe they were anticipating letting the contracts of Fish and Ammo expire and saving that money.

    The Lakers are in a unique situation where their roster is set with great and versatile talent at every position but PG. And PG happens to be the deepest position in the league with many teams having 2 quality players at that spot. And the Lakers are in the rare situation of not having one. We are blessed this is the teams only concern (in my opinion) besides of course health.

    Oh… and by the way. I can think of one player Phil Jackson developed… his name is Kobe Bryant.


  63. 43 – Aaron – Where in the world did you get the idea that Monta Ellis is a PG, let alone that that he would fit with the Lakers system or that they would pay the luxury tax needed to obtain him?

    Do you define a PG as somebody who’s covered in Tats? Then I guess Monta is your man.

    Hey, I have an idea: The FO should try to lure Iverson out of retirement. That would work better than adding Monta to the mix.


  64. Although I agree with the decision to save the money and bring back Odom…Toney Douglas (albeit in a run-and-gun offense) now is starting to look pretty good and we could have kept him for ourselves…


  65. this is way too funny: gordon, ellis, harris… you really think they´d love to bring the ball up court, pass it to kobe and wait for him to either shoot it or pass it on to the post?!? they are in their prime, probably think they should be 1, at least 2nd option not 5th!!!

    fisher is playing decent ball this year. we are losing games because we tend to stop pounding it inside, have mental lapses and play down to the competition, not just because of fisher.

    he has better hands than farmar or brown (the steals and deflections that fish and artest get are a big part of our defense). he is also very good at working the refs. he is not afraid to pass away from kobe and he sets hard screens and brings important toughness to our team (just ask luis scola).

    his skills are just right for what we need this year. we will see about next year, but i sure hope we can keep him for the vets-min for about 15-20 min a game.

    in my opinion, the lakers would win every game by 10+ points if:

    1) andrew gets more touches down low. he was amazing against phoenix the other night and could bring that against any team if given the touches.

    2) pau shoots from mid-rainge more often to get the lost confidence back in his shot. we dont need it now, but in the playoffs i´d love to see him pop some shots from the ft-line

    3) and most importantly: we have to force lamar to play agressive on the offensive end. please look what he did against pheonix. he came into the game and played hard defense, but on offense he settled for standing at the 3point line and passing into the post.

    it seems like every time he drives into the zone good things happen. he is a great passer, ball-handler and offensive rebounder. just force him to drive more and either finish, kick-out or draw fouls.

    he did it when kobe was out and i dont get why he stopped doing it. if he gives us 15/10 a night, we can start jack nicholson at pg.


  66. Zephid,

    If we offered that for Calderon, Colangelo probably would have taken it. He was shopping him pretty hard at the deadline.


  67. Aaron,

    Haha on PJ “developing” Kobe. He had Kobe when he was a what? 4th year already? Del Harris “developed” Kobe. Do you think if PJ was coaching Kobe in his first year, he would have played Kobe the clutch minutes against Utah (the Four Airball game)?


  68. Okay. I do agree with Darius that Fish is starting because neither Jordan Farmar, nor Shannon Brown have been good enough to replace him. They aren’t any better on defense, they’re worse. Each has their issues on offense. Jordan is better offensively, but likes to freelance too much. Shannon freelances too much as well, only he’s a poor ball handler, and cannot pass to save his life. The next time he makes a post entry pass will be his first. You think Pau complains about getting the ball (even if he’s wrong)? Try Shannon as starter. The complaints would be every game.

    I disagree Darius and Phillip’s opinions that the post at SSR was unfair. To say that is wrong.

    The title is “Everything you know about Derek Fisher is wrong” The whole point of the post was to change the misconception that Fish is hurting the Lakers more on defense. It wasn’t written to simply point out Fish shouldn’t be starting for a championship caliber team, nor did it mention anything about replacing him with Farmar or Shannon. It WAS written to show us where he actually affects the team most. Including Jordan and Shannon in it had nothing to do with the point about misconceptions regarding Fisher.

    Here’s what C.A. say the article is about in the 2nd paragraph:

    “Everything you know about Derek Fisher is true. You know he’s an extremely poor defender, on account of his being ancient in NBA terms. You know he hasn’t shown the ability to shoot the ball well this year. You know he’s considered a very good leader, and that the only viable explanation for his continuing to play a large role in the Lakers rotation is due to the experience and intangibles he brings to the team. But it’s an accepted truth that Fisher’s biggest liability is on the defensive end, and I’m not so sure that’s true. So, to aide me in re-aligning your perceptions, I’ve invited my good friends, advanced statistics, to help convince you that up is down, black is white, and Derek Fisher hurts the Lakers more on offense than on defense.”

    I don’t come here to make this comment because I contribute at SSR, but because I have read 65 comments in which no one else realizes this. Trust me, this comment isn’t looking for a debate nor is it argumentative. Never mind my contributions at SSR. I’m just pointing out something that was missed.

    P.S. In my opinion, if anyone should replace Fish at point, it should be Sasha. I’ve always thought that, and I think the Lakers wanted it that way considering the contract they gave him. Eventually he will be.


  69. Let me remind some of you who may have forgotten who Derek Fisher is. Even though I sometimes teach statistics, this won’t be about self fulfilling prophecy number crunching.

    If Derek himself responded to Darius’s “he’s bad, but not that bad” pseudo statistical analyses and many far more negative pseudo statistical abstractions from our bloggers, Derek’d say that he wasn’t even sure that he would be drafted 14 years ago–and when he was, he was far from the ideal PG for the Laker system.

    It wasn’t clear he would last the first season–but he did.

    Fourteen years later, nothing has changed–except Derek is 36. He is now thought to be too old, too slow, lost his shooting touch, bad decisions, worthless–mockingly referred to as the worst pg in the NBA.

    Except that worst pg is cocaptain of a Laker team that won the NBA championship last year and the player rep for the NBA player’s association.

    Just consider for a moment that it is still well deserved.

    Derek shipped out to the Warriors and then the Jazz because the Laker organization really didn’t value his contributions that much–just like many on this blog. While a rogues list of forgettables took Derek’s position, and we were now watching teams other than the Lakers in the playoffs, we got to see Derek again in his usual role–but for another team.

    His last year at Utah, where he had performed well all year, Derek made a heroic 3 pointer in the playoffs under circumstances that could only happen in a movie–you thought.

    When Derek suddenly made himself available due to that same family emergency, the Lakers organization made sure that they didn’t make the same mistake again. We’ve been winning ever since.

    Let me let you in on the secret: Derek has heart, never gives up, has a bad “attitude”–and he hates to lose–and that matters a great deal and can be seen by his mastery of his role–if you bother to look.

    Kostas (1) has already translated that into things about Derek that he has observed this year–so I won’t waste your time.

    You might not remember all the legendary things Derek has done for the Lakers–or you might say that he can’t do it any more. We’ll see.

    Just thank God that he is a Laker–or, if you can’t, and think he stinks, just STFU.


  70. for all the bashing fisher gets on the D end, Calderon would manage to be a downgrade… He not only gets burned but also manages to do it in a way help defense can do nothing but cry.
    We would end up playing stretches of toronto-ball, try to score more than you are getting scored


  71. 65, I doubt it, but that one’s a toss up and could really go either way depending on how you look at it. If Colangelo trades Calderon for the Farmar pu pu platter deluxe, he might as well blow up the whole team because Chris Bosh is then guaranteed to leave, with no illusions of staying. The cap space isn’t going to help them because they already have Turkoglu and Bargnani signed to bloated contracts, so the 10M is just to save money.


  72. Chownoir (was J) March 14, 2010 at 9:41 am

    I just think any trade package that included Fish was completely off the mark. I can’t see Phil signing off on a package that got rid of Fish and Farmar and bringing in a mid tier guard in the middle of the season. If he has issues with adding spare parts mid season, why would he ever agree on swapping out major cogs mid stream.

    And how did I get sucked into a trade discussion in March?


  73. Remember that pick we sold to the Knicks to free up cash? Totally understandable and even great move considering we’d of had to pay double a rookie scale for someone who might not make the roster, robbed NY of 3 million, etc.

    Well that pick was Toney Douglas and he’s a 6’2 PG/SG that plays good defense, works hard, and hits 40% of his 3s


  74. Do you notice the way Fisher draws illegal screen calls? or charges? He does a few things no one is giving him credit for.


  75. Ray (61) –

    It’s a common knock, but do remember that Phil Jackson has won those 10 titles with Jordan, Pippen, Shaq, and Kobe – these are not the types of players who need much ‘development’ assistance to win. However, looking at the roster going forward, do you see an all-timer on that level coming up through the ranks? I don’t. Bynum’s the closest to it, but I think we can all agree he hasn’t yet consistently shown the type of drive to succeed that the best in the game have innately (even Shaq, for all his perceived laziness, has always been immensely competitive).

    wondahbap (68) –

    We’re aware. That article has sparked discussion of a different kind. You noticed that people aren’t trying to defend the SSR piece – well, that’s because it doesn’t really need defending, as it’s primarily on a different topic.

    drrayeye (69) –

    I know Derek Fisher. I have watched him with awe as he has been a (large) part of 4 championship titles for the Lakers, and a piece of other great stories to boot. But:

    “Except that worst pg is cocaptain of a Laker team that won the NBA championship last year and the player rep for the NBA player’s association.”

    The latter fact means nothing more than that he’s well-respected among his peers. The former means that he’s respected as the oldest player on an excellent team which features one of the best to ever play basketball.


    “Just thank God that he is a Laker–or, if you can’t, and think he stinks, just STFU.”

    No, I think I’ll continue to make my points, rationally, regardless of being told to shut the **** up. Thanks, though. And to your point, I thank God that he WAS a Laker. Past performance is hardly a guarantee of future success, especially in a sport where age is such a factor. I hope I’m wrong – I really do. I’d love DFish to hit another huge shot on the way to a title. And it might indeed happen that way. And I’ll happily come on here and give him his due in that event. Crow tastes delicious when seasoned with an NBA championship.

    But will you come on here if his terrible offense and inability to keep up with yet another young point guard costs the Lakers a chance to repeat? And can you honestly tell me that your scenario sounds more likely than mine?


  76. Yusuf (74) –

    The problem with that point-of-view is that he does it by causing a lot of contact on the defensive end in general, which is why he commits fouls at the same rate as the VERY foul-prone Bynum.

    Drawing one charge isn’t worth putting the other team in the bonus with 7 minutes left in a quarter, but DFish is tied with Drew as the most likely culprit on the team to cause it.

    In fact, I went through and checked. I’m going to put this in all-caps because I want to emphasize it.

    Derek Fisher commits fouls at a worse rate than EVERY STARTING POINT-GUARD in the NBA.

    That includes Jrue Holiday (Age: 19), Derrick Rose (Age: 21), Russell Westbrook (Age: 21), Jonny Flynn (Age: 20), Tyreke Evans (Age: 20), and Darren Collison (Age: 22).

    Fisher is NOT a wily veteran who gives the Lakers extra possessions by being in the right place at the right time. He’s the single most foul-prone starting point guard in the league. Those charges come with a cost.


  77. Underbruin (44),

    Im not sure that this point strengthens your argument. your point seems to be that phil jackson’s teams tend to be veteran-dominated and, therefore, he may not know when it is time to go to his young guys more. but those teams that you analyzed from an age standpoint achieved the ultimate goal of an NBA season: to win an NBA championship. if PJ has won 10 championships valuing his veterans and leaning on them greatly then why would he stray away from a heady veteran such as Fish, especially considering the alternatives? Your understanding of the stats make a compelling case against fish but to go to past phil jackson-coached teams to reinforce that case is ineffective seeing as he has won 10 championships using this formula. Will it work again? Obviously, it’s yet to be seen. I understand that PJ may have the reputation of not being a great ‘young players’ coach’ but he also has another reputation…quite possibly, the greatest coach of all time.

    lesha (65),

    bravo on that jack nicholson comment. that was hilarious.


  78. this is pretty obvious to me but
    you guys realize phil always coached for good teams right? And a lot of those picks were traded, even as low as they were. So, here is a recap according to nbadraft.net
    1990: 1st sent to New Jersey, 2nd Toni Kukoc
    1991: 1st Mark Randall, 2nd sent to NJ
    1992: 1st Byron Houston, 2nd Corey Williams
    1993: 1st Corie Blount, 2nd Anthony Reed
    1994: 1st Dickey Simpkins, 2nd Kris Bruton
    1995: 1st Jason Caffey, 2nd Dragan Tarlac
    1996: 1st Travis Knight, 2nd to Dallas
    1997: 1st Keith Booth, 2nd Roberto Duenas

    1999: 1st Devean George, 2nd to Grizzlies
    2000:1st Mark Madsen, 2nd to Mavs
    2001: 1st to Knicks, 2nd to Spurs
    2002: 1st Chris Jefferies, 2nd to Spurs
    2003: 1st Brian Cook, 2nd Luke Walton
    2004: 1st Sasha Vujacic, 2nd Marcus Douthit
    2005: 1st Andrew Bynum, 2nd Ronny Turiaf(from Bobcats), Von Wafer
    2006: 1st Jordan Farmar, 2nd Cheick Samb, J.R. Pinnock(from Dallas)
    2007: 1st Javaris Crittenton, 2nd Sun Yue(from Bobcats), Marc Gasol
    2008: 1st to Grizzlies, 2nd Joe Crawford
    2009: 1st to Knicks, 2nd Chinemelu Elonu

    Of course, there was better talent to be had now that we look back at it, but that’s what Bulls/Lakers drafted. As you can see, just as much if not more than Phil’s inability to develop young ones, the raw talent he had was not great.


  79. R,
    Ellis is more of a PG than Derek Fisher. This is the triangle offense. I don’t know why I even responded to this comment now that I think of it. Did someone just say they would rather have Derek Fisher than Monta Ellis?

    Del Harris definitely plays a part in developing Kobe. But so did Phil. Kobe was a 20 year old kid when Jackson signed with the Lakers. PJ played as big a role in Bryant’s development as Del Harris did.


  80. Aaron,

    I don’t really think Del Harris played any part in Kobe’s development other than he played him when he was a rookie. That’s not a knock on Del Harris (I liked him as our coach) or Phil’s involvement. Rather it is a testament to Kobe’s strong willed determination to be the player that he is.


  81. EJK (77) –

    I thought about that as well. But I think there’s very little evidence that Fisher remains a ‘heady veteran.’ And Jackson’s preference for veterans was largely borne out on the backs of some of the most talented groups of players assembled in the entire history of the NBA – he could very easily make a personnel mistake and have it not particularly damage him.

    Take this year’s team. Say I honestly believe Farmar is a full 2 wins better than Fish over the course of a season if they traded minutes and responsibilities (I don’t know if he is, I just pulled a number out of thin air). That’s a reasonably sizable difference: Seve Nash was worth about 2 wins more than Grant Hill last season, in approx the same # of mins. The only difference in this year’s record would be the team at, say, 50-16 instead of 48-18. The practical applications aren’t significant in terms of the team’s taking a big step for this year. So a poor choice there probably has little impact on this season alone.

    But next year – or 3 years from now – or 7 down the line… Who knows if Farmar or Brown will ever be particularly good. Maybe not. But by not giving them minutes, Phil is not only (potentially) costing the team a couple of wins this year, but multiple wins down the road. That’s easy to cover when you’ve got Michael Jordan.

    But Jackson’s teams have a habit of having the bottom fall out on them when he leaves. The ’99 Bulls went from 62-20 the year previous to 13-37 (strike-shortened year).

    The ’05 Lakers went from 56-26 to 34-48.

    Granted, both of those teams were losing all-time talents – but isn’t that the point behind playing younger players, to replace that talent? It’s one thing to give up experience for youth, if doing so costs you during that season as well. But I don’t think there’s any evidence to support a belief that the team will get any worse by shifting away from Fisher. They may not get better, as Darius argues. But he didn’t provide much in the way to convince me that the team would be worse without his playing as much as he does.


  82. What makes you think that Monta Ellis would be willing to play the role that he would need to play on the Lakers? That is the biggest advantage to Fisher. He is willing to do that. Farmar has not been willing to do that. Brown can’t, yet.


  83. #82. I’m sorry but there’s a lot of flawed logic in the points you make. Farmar and Brown play. It’s not like they’re buried on the bench ala Sun Yue or Ammo. These guys get minutes, consistently, every game. Also, the Lakers – while not so much recently – have been up big in a lot of games this season. In those games, Farmar and Brown got lots of run to close out games and in a lot of those games allowed the lead to disappear which led to starters having to come back into the game. Now, I understand that Farmar and/or Brown are only one (or two) piece(s) of a line up, but if they’re the PG’s and the guys that are tasked with organizing the offense or being leaders on the floor, a lot of the responsibility of how those leads were lost is on them. Especially when it’s because of the offense forcing up quick shots and not executing in order to create good scoring opportunities. So, I just don’t see the point that Phil isn’t playing these guys or giving them chances. He is playing them and sometimes they come through and on many others they don’t. Also understand that Phil sees these guys in practice situations and in the film room and in so many other places that us fans will never have access to. I would think his perspective on these players is also shaped by what he’s seen in other environments than the games that we all watch.

    Also, your points about the Lakers/Bulls falling completely off after Jackson left isn’t that solid either. I mean, while you say that these teams lost all-time talents, you then make it seem like the young players that were on those teams were capable of filling the shoes of the players that left. That wasn’t the case.

    Also, I said in the post that I wouldn’t defend Fisher, but I will say that he’s still the best of our PG’s at organizing our offense and that matters. If Farmar or Shannon showed even 80% of Fisher’s ability to get our offense set and then showed that they are willing to sacrifice their want to score off individual/isolation sets, I’m pretty sure they would play more. The fact is, they don’t.

    And this is my last point, but Phil is a coach that has proven to put players in positions to succeed. Where they can play to their strengths. So, while I agree that every coach – even Jackson – can be questioned, I wonder what leads people to think that he’s not doing that now with these players. And that the success that these players do have is actually based off the fact that they’re being put in positions where they can be most successful rather than just thrown out there haphazardly where they may not be able to contribute at the level they do now.


  84. Darius,
    Beautiful points – particularly the one about Phil putting players in positions to succeed, not just to play. This is a key point – lost on many fans – in evaluating his reintegration of Sasha. Just because he is back from injury doesn’t mean he should put him in repeatedly for substantial stretches of the game. Sasha is someone he is developing and he has given him short minutes, with apparently specific instructions as to what he wants. Sasha has generally done well, so I expect him to gain minutes – but still with a very specific role.


  85. Darius –

    I don’t want to seem like I’m unwilling to let an argument drop, so after this post I’ll call it a day – and if you do want to get in a response (or not) I’m happy to let you have the proverbial “last word.” I would like to respond, though.

    “Now, I understand that Farmar and/or Brown are only one (or two) piece(s) of a line up, but if they’re the PG’s and the guys that are tasked with organizing the offense or being leaders on the floor, a lot of the responsibility of how those leads were lost is on them.”

    I understand where you’re coming from, but on a player-comparison basis, neither Farmar nor Brown gets outplayed to the degree Fisher does. I really do think this is a case where Fisher’s deficiencies are covered up by his teammates more than anything else – if you replaced Farmar with Fish I think they’d struggle just as much. Fisher has the comfort of playing almost exclusively alongside Kobe – of the various lineups listed on 82games that Fisher is a part of, only 2 don’t have him with Bryant at all. They also happen to be two of the team’s most effective, and least effective, lineups (one apiece). That makes me think Fisher isn’t the common link with regards to that effectiveness (random factoid, the better lineup is the same as the weaker one except for a swap IN of Odom and OUT of Bynum), and that he benefits greatly from playing so much with Kobe and the starters in general.

    Farmar actually never gets to spend time with the ‘starting’ lineup, basically. Our most common lineup is Fish-Kobe-Artest-Gasol-Bynum. A version of that lineup replacing Fish with Farmar is unlisted on 82games, which has every lineup with 20+ minutes of playing time, basically. And I’d hope that you’re not suggesting that Derek Fisher, for whom the PUJIT acronym was created, has good shot selection and a steady hand? He’s been one of the worst culprits at jacking up random 26-footers early in the shot clock – and missing most of them.

    I think where we differ here is probably going to be a belief in how the team is being run. I think that Jackson is treating the bench mob as specifically that – a group of players designed to change up the offense. Farmar and Brown both have a bit of a wild streak in them – but I highly doubt that wouldn’t be pulled back if Jackson sat down either and said, “Look, I’ll give you the starting point guard position on this team, but you’re going to have to work almost exclusively within the triangle.” They’re playing the way they are for contracts on other teams who use other styles (Farmar moreso than Brown, I think).

    “Also, your points about the Lakers/Bulls falling completely off after Jackson left isn’t that solid either. I mean, while you say that these teams lost all-time talents, you then make it seem like the young players that were on those teams were capable of filling the shoes of the players that left. That wasn’t the case.”

    I wouldn’t ask them to be replaced perfectly (and in all fairness, that 05 Lakers team was a disaster for so many other reasons). But the 99 Bulls struggled in part because the previous year’s team was old as dirt – you’ll have no chance at even partially replacing great talent if there’s nobody to replace them with but other old guys. The Bulls won 72, 69, and 62 games during the 2nd threepeat. They couldn’t afford to bring along some youth along the way?

    Not that I think Jackson cared much – I think he knew he wouldn’t be coaching the Bulls much longer either way, so why worry? And I’m a bit worried he may be taking the same attitude towards this year’s team.

    “And this is my last point, but Phil is a coach that has proven to put players in positions to succeed. Where they can play to their strengths.”

    Well, that presumes that no players have been put in better situations elsewhere, which I don’t entirely agree with. I think Jackson’s a great coach who – you must surely admit – has greatly benefited from players that would likely have had a fairly good amount of success with most coaches. I think that Jackson has blind spots to a degree with younger players (and also with point guards – he’s never really had a great point due to the triangle, and I don’t think he concerns himself with that position as much as others).


  86. Underbruin,
    Given that the triangle, under Jackson, has been the dominant successful offense over the last 20 yrs, I am not sure anyone would argue with a lack of focus on the PG position – it just isn’t the focal point like most other offenses out there.

    It is a motion offense that is structured to get shots for all the players on a team where all players should be adequate passers and able to cut and move without the ball. This is just not the definition of what a PG does in the NBA.

    In this environment no club running this offense is going to produce outstanding traditional PGs and no traditional PGs in their prime are going to want to join this offense.


  87. The last post summarizes the key issue: the Lakers don’t need a true PG! Especially against a team like Denver, they should have a lineup of Kobe, Artest, Odom, Bynum and Gasol. Odom can bring the ball up like he usually does, Kobe can guard the other team’s PG, and Odom and Artest can alternate on the SG/SF. I’m still unsure as to why Phil has never tried this lineup.


  88. Underbruin,
    unless you are 100% accurate at drafts, there is no way you could build a champion with 29th and 30th picks if major pieces retired or left as free agents.

    Sure they were old as dirt, but unless you can sucker someone into giving pau gasols after pau gasols while giving up only expirings and low picks, your team won’t keep up forever. At some point rebuilding happens. Look at what is happening at San Antonio, what happened in Boston after Bird, what happened in a smaller scale in L.A. after Magic. It’s not exclusive to Phil Jackson’s former teams, the transition from one era to another is hardly ever smooth.


  89. 83,
    That is like saying you would rather keep Kwame Brown than add Pau Gasol because Gasol is going to want more touches. You want the most diverse talent you can get because as Phil Jackson says “the shot distribution will figure itself out.” Even Alen Iverson played unselfish basketball when he was playing in all star games. When one plays with talent around them one doesn’t dominate the ball or shoot as often. Its just how it works. Case in point Jamal Crawford.

    And I hate to keep disagreeing with you but the stats show that the Lakers play better both on offense and defense with Farmar or Brown at PG with the starting unit over Fisher. I don’t know why you keep saying otherwise. I would think a sophisticated set of basketball eyes such as your own wouldn’t even need the numbers to tell you that.


  90. Aaron,

    I agree with Darius. Stat’s don’t always tell the whole story.


  91. we need somebody who can do a fair job of defending the other team’s PG, and somebody who can keep the other team’s defender honest by hitting open 3s.

    really, we could get TA to be PG and it’ll still work since we have a ton of ball handlers…


  92. Ray,
    Some stats tell little of the story, some stats tell some of the story, and some stats tell most of the story. Sophisticated statistics that are generated from semi evolved equations most often tell most of the story. The Lakers outscore their opponents by much wider of a margin when Jordan Farmar is playing with the starting unit (Bynum or Odom as the 5th) . When Farmar is playing with that group it is not a blow out as the entire team is also playing so those numbers are not contaminated much. You can argue about PER but its hard to argue with success. The Lakers have performed better this season with Farmar as the PG (in place of Derek). Now you can argue that this brief (small sample-size) past success will not directly translate into future successes this up coming post season. That is a great argument and one we can have. But I will no longer continue a debate of ” if Derek was our best PG up until this point in the season?” Because that question has already been answered. From now on here at this great site we can ponder what PG should get the majority of the minutes in the playoffs. That I will discuss because that is a question that has yet to be answered.

    And if there was that big of a difference between how Fisher organizes the offense and how Farmar and Brown do it…. the Lakers wouldn’t be performing better on offense with Fisher off the court and the rest of the starters in.


  93. Now that’s a dream lineup.


    Ariza guarding Pg’s on defense while Artest or Kobe bring up the ball.



  94. Aaron, Underbruin, and friends of the dark side,

    Derek Fisher is the starting pg for the Lakers–and it is not controversial among the coaches and/or players–or most fans. Statisticians like me are not overwhelmed by your pseudo analyses.

    When Derek has been informed about bloggers like you, he has a hard time believing it, since when people see him, they come up with an almost worshipful attitude and ask for his autograph.

    As the team moves closer to the playoffs, the 3 headed PG monster may morph to 4 as Sasha works more into the rotation from time to time, but barring injury, Derek remains the starting pg, with Jordan as the backup–as it has been for some time. If anything, Derek’s role will be strengthened as the team perfects their half court game and defensive rotations.

    Now, next season may well be different, but this is not the time or place to speculate.

    Take off your blinders, embrace our Laker team as it is, coached by Phil Jackson as he is–and enjoy where the Laker train will take us. The ride is as much fun as the destination, and what we are seeing may never be seen again.

    If Derek plays down to your negative expectations, keep it to yourself–and if Derek makes a dramatic 3 or defensive turnaround like the rest of us hope–cheer, or quietly eat crow as the spirit moves you.


  95. 86) Underbruin,
    “has greatly benefited from players that would likely have had a fairly good amount of success with most coaches”

    How many titles did those players win without Jackson?


  96. Rodman won without Jackson. His coach then was pretty good, too.


  97. >Unstoppable

    except, perhaps, when all those small guards with the quick feet and hands pressure the ball full-court?!


  98. Systems always have weak points. The best systems have fewer weak points and their strong points are very dominant.

    The triangle can be attacked by small, quick PGs, but not only is the offense designed to get everyone better shots, it also puts the players in a position to have one or two players always back on defense when a miss occurs. The Lakers don’t always do this, as it is a function of running the offense correctly.


  99. 94, I think more of a dream lineup would be:

    Chris Paul
    Kobe Bryant
    Lebron James
    Chris Bosh
    Dwight Howard

    With Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, and Dirk Nowitski off the bench for an 8-man rotation, and Sun Yue, JJ Redick, Adam Morrison, Brian Scalabrine, and Darko Milicic at the end of the bench for the 5-man Human Victory Cigar lineup.


  100. drrayeye,

    “Take off your blinders, embrace our Laker team as it is, coached by Phil Jackson as he is–and enjoy where the Laker train will take us. The ride is as much fun as the destination, and what we are seeing may never be seen again.”

    How is debating Fish’s pros and cons, or his positive or negative aspects wrong? We ALL hope for his best and realize what he can and can’t do, but it’s wrong to act like those who want to talk about his faults don’t support him. Or those who comment like everything is all good is are the only ones who do.

    I’m a Lakers fan who would rather focus on the reason *why* the Lakers can win as opposed to why they can’t but to tell others to keep their criticisms to themselves *is* putting “blinders” on in itself. Fish deserves discussion. He’s not Kobe, nor Pau, in which his positives far outweigh his negatives.


  101. wondahbap,
    It’s not that criticism is wrong; it is that often individual criticism becomes a ‘pile on’ thing. Everyone has to add their tidbit, but frequently doesn’t provide any new evidence, just recycles what was said before or just makes a statement. This is almost the definition of a boring blog.

    We all want to ‘join the herd’, but if someone else has said it better – how about letting it be. Yes, you are right, I am sometimes guilty of this also. We all are, but how about trying to minimize the repetitions.


  102. Zephid,
    Maybe I am like Phil Jackson and don’t see the necessity of having a true PG (especially on a talented team) but this would be my dream lineup



  103. your dream line ups are weak!!


    Bench: Stockton, Malone, Pippen, Worthy, Mchale


  104. 100 Zephid,

    shouldn’t you have that Duke guy, Coach K, coaching your dream team?!


  105. Ray,
    Sorry my old friend but how could you put Bird ahead of Lebron? And I would put Pippen ahead of Brid on a dream team because of the defense. And I love Rodman (he should be in the hall of fame) but especially on a dream team you have to play on both sides of the floor and Dennis’ offense left a lot to be desired.