Is Jordan Farmar the Key to Keeping Kobe’s Minutes Down?

Darius Soriano —  August 27, 2013

We don’t know when Kobe Bryant will return to the court after rehabbing from his torn achilles tendon. And, when he does return, we don’t know how well he’ll play. What we do know, however, is that when he does return and regardless of how well he plays, one major goal will be to keep his minutes down from what they’ve been in recent seasons.

When discussing how to best accomplish that goal, the two players who are most often mentioned are the newly acquired Nick Young and Wesley Johnson. Both players are natural shooting guards and while they both bring different skills to the table — Young is a natural scorer who hasn’t shown a proclivity for defense, Johnson is more of a defender who will likely need to better develop his outside shot to become a viable offensive threat — those skills, when combined, are ones that will be needed when Kobe is on the bench.

However, just because Young can score and Johnson can (hopefully) defend, it doesn’t mean they’re the players best suited to ensure Kobe’s minutes remain low. In fact, an argument can be made that both Young and Johnson would be better off playing next to Kobe rather than attempting to fill the void in the lineup when #24 is on the bench. Young, as a scorer, could thrive as a weak side outlet when Kobe is operating with the ball, attacking closeouts when the ball is swung his way or working in isolation against defenses less likely to want to help when spread out guarding the likes of Kobe (and Pau and Nash). Johnson, meanwhile, could also thrive as a shooter on the weak side but also provide some sorely needed wing defense next to Kobe (and Nash), sparing the veteran of having to guard the opposition’s best perimeter threat.

So, while the two new wings can offset some of what Kobe provides and be used as replacements for him in certain lineups, I’ve a feeling that we’ll also find both players’ production is better and more efficient when playing with him rather than without. And, if that turns out to be true, the Lakers will still be looking for a player who can step in and provide some relief in the form of offensive punch and shot creation that keeps Kobe on the bench for longer stretches.

As crazy as it sounds, that player just may be Jordan Farmar.

Yes, Farmar is a smallish point guard who shouldn’t (can’t?) play any shooting guard in any lineup that offers viable defense. Farmar also isn’t known to be the type of offensive threat that defenses game plan for in a way that makes him a “replacement” for Kobe in a classic sense (though, to be fair, the Lakers don’t have that guy on their roster anyway). However, what Farmar does provide is a combination of skills and mindset that could be exactly what the team needs to ensure that Kobe gets those few extra minutes of rest a game that he sorely needs.

If putting together a checklist of attributes you’d want from a player who is going to steal minutes from Kobe Bryant, you’d probably find that besides Steve Nash, Jordan Farmar is the only other perimeter player on the team who marks off a majority of the boxes. Farmar has the requisite ball handling, shooting, and shot creation skills to take on a relatively high usage rate. He also has the self confidence and desire to have the ball in his hands and be the player who dictates the flow of the offense. If Kobe is going to be relegated to the bench for longer stretches, the Lakers are going to need these skills on the floor — from a player outside of Nash — to still be able to run what Mike D’Antoni wants to do on offense.

I’m not saying Farmar is going to “replace” Kobe. Nor am I saying the team will function as well with Farmar directing the offense as it will with Kobe playing that role. But, Farmar is a player who is young enough to play heavy minutes, has enough varied skill in his game to be a perimeter threat with the ball in his hands, and has always wanted this specific opportunity with this specific team. I mean, one of the reasons that Farmar left the Lakers in the first place was because he wanted to be a player with the ball in his hands more than the Triangle offense (and playing beside Kobe) allowed him to. Now that he’s back in Los Angeles with Kobe needing to decrease his minutes and Mike D’Antoni running a spread P&R attack, Farmar should get his chance.

Next year will be one in which a lot of players will need to prove their worth if the Lakers are really going to be good enough to compete each night. Nash will need to stay healthy and keep his production up, Pau will need to rebound from a couple of down years and reclaim his reputation as one of the best pivotmen in the league, and several role players will need to show that they’re ready to live up to the talent level they possess.

Of the players from that latter group, none may be more important than Farmar who, in his second stint, is finally in line to play the role he’s always wanted. If he’s up to it, Kobe and D’Antoni may just get their wish of less playing time to come true.

Darius Soriano

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25 responses to Is Jordan Farmar the Key to Keeping Kobe’s Minutes Down?

  1. A lotta “ifs” when it comes to farmar. i thought it was pretty ironic that he and sasha v, his best friend, were fighting for time in new jersey. that was probably the last former laker he wanted to see. hope it works out for farmar, because if it doesn’t, it’s back to turkey.

  2. Nice take on something most of the rest of us haven’t talked about. I think we are going to have much more flexibility this year, when compared to the last couple of years – the loss of Lamar may really have hurt us more than we thought.

    I believe this flexibility will enable Mike D. to move people around more, and it is also the reason I don’t really worry about specific slots for players like Jordan Hill. I think the players will find their way in the flow of the offense and, therefore, will be better prepared to react on defense. Sure – this is a glass-half-full viewpoint, but that is my professed stance for the coming year and I am happy with it.

    This take on how Farmar will fit in just reinforces my opinion about our possibilities. Thanks Darius.

  3. Farmar could indeed help in this area. Relative to Kobe’s minutes last year – anything will be an improvement. That said, the real key to Kobe’s minutes is going to be the collective will of KB + MD to stick to a minutes plan even in the face of deficits during games, and or bunches of losses. You can have a plan going into a game for Kobe to play 34 minutes, but what do you do when the team is down twelve and KB still has 3 minutes left on his planned break (I know what happened last year)? To make it worse, what if you are on a 3 game losing streak also? It takes discipline by both coach and player – not to throw the plan out the window when these things happen. Of course all of this is under the premise that Kobe comes back early enough and at a high enough performance rate to make all of this matter (I hope he does). Focussing on the full side is always more optimistic in nature, but without Kobe, we are about 20% full, and 80% empty. One can focus on the full portion, but it is just a smaller portion than we are all used to : )

  4. Farmar says he`s a more confident and complete player than he was with NJ. Hope he`s right,because he has skills the team really needs on many levels. I`m also not ready to give up on Meeks as a sub@SG.

  5. Jordan Farmar was one of my favorite players back in the repeat days. I still like him even when he was not given his qualifying offer and found a way to monitor him while on NJ.

    X factor is about the best description. There is belief he could become the best pg on the team before the season ends. He definitely has the highest ceiling among out acquisitions this season.

  6. The best part about jFarm is his confidence that he learnt from Kobe. I remember he was like a littlr brother to Kobe back in the day. We have a collection of players that want to be part of this organization, Young mentioned he would carry Kobe’s bags way back when.

    I think there’s big possibilities here. We arent contenders just yey but we have a group that either has something to prove, play for a contract or proud to be a Laker.

    50 wins.

  7. Great post Darius. I’ve been looking forward to a post about Farmar this whole time. I really think he’ll be great for us next year and for years to come.

  8. I think it’s more likely that the formation will be Farmar to backup Nash and Blake to backup Kobe.

    Farmar is a pick-n-roll PG. Moreover, Blake is better in spot up shooting. (not really sure about this, but based on my eye observation, it does seem that way).

    On top of that, Blake is feistier defender, which helps him to guard bigger opponents. Farmar is arguably, less savvy too.

  9. I agree with Robert, it will take a lot of discipline from both Kobe and MDA to keep his minutes down.

  10. The tandom of Gasol and Odom was far more important then Gasol and Bynum or Gasol and Dwight. We have needed a PF since Odom left and I have been saying this since Odom left.

    I think Farmar is an important piece of the Lakers going forward. I don’t know about playing like a mini-kobe or kobe role but, Farmar is a great PG for this team and should see substantial minutes.

  11. I always liked Farmar too. I felt he left school a year too early and he seemed like he thought he was twice as good as he actually was. Hopefully with a few years of seasoning and maybe a dash of humility–he was probably always the best player on any team until joining the Lakers and it never seemed like he made the adjustment–he’ll be a productive player without trying to take on the world by himself.

  12. JFarm should take every second of every minute to observe, learn from and pick Nash’s brain. Jordan took a $10 mil pay cut to come back. He has all the ability and confidence to be a starting PG in this league. He should learn from one of the best ball in hand PGs we’ve ever seen. Nash needs the rest, jFarm has an opp to play 20+ min at night. Lets hope that all these new players take Kobe and Nash’s work ethic to heart. Offensively they will be better this year, even if Kobe is limited in his comeback. It’s defensively where they are brutally challenged. I for one am looking forward to watching this unit of underdogs compete.

  13. Heres hoping that all the lamar rumors are wrong and that we somehow sign lamar … do ti for the fans … we love him

  14. MADRID — Madrid’s 2020 Olympic bid committee says it has appointed Los Angeles Lakers star Pau Gasol to act as one of its spokesmen.
    In a statement issued Tuesday, the committee says Gasol, one of Spain’s most well-known athletes and a two-time Olympic silver medalist, will address the International Olympic Committee during Madrid’s final presentation in Buenos Aires next month.

  15. Shawn

    I agree I also have strong feelings for the guy. Two of my business partners are ex-players and one ex-Laker. The stories are sadly true so now it’s a matter of LO getting healthy before thinging about the pressures and scrutiny of the NBA.

  16. JB 100% agree especially about thinking he was much better then he was. That was Farmer not Dwight you were talking about?

    Jordan and Steve together could give Lakers 20 plus a game with 10 plus assists. Not bad.

  17. I think that D’Antoni will use Farmar much like he used Leandro Barbosa.

  18. For the last slot, they must pick Landry who has both offensive and defensive skills and youth, speed and high BB IQ. Sacre must produce at least defensively or else cut him before the trade deadline and get a better replacement (Lakers have enough cheer leaders, they don’t need another one off the bench). It’s so sad Odom is going through all these problems because he could of helped the lakers tremendously, this season, if he were in the right mind and condition. Meeks is a big question mark, his inconsistency dominated his play last season.

  19. “Yes, Farmar is a smallish point guard who shouldn’t (can’t?) play any shooting guard in any lineup that offers viable defense.”

    I agree… Farmar is a PG who under no circumstances will replace a SG or help keep a SGs minutes down. That’s the job of Nic Young and Wesley Johnson.

  20. If you consider that Kobe and Nash will need a lot of rest this year, Farmar makes more sense as a PG than a SG. In my opinion, our second unit should be better defensively (or at least a mix of the first and second unit) and a lineup with Farmar-Johnson-Hill-Gasol is somewhat interesting in that department. Gasol is still a 7 footer and the other 3 can be above average defenders so it’s only a matter of knowing how Farmar would control the pace of the game.

    I believe that playing in Europe can give a NBA player a new perspective on teamplay and Farmar may benefit a lot from that experience. Rooting for these guys, as long as they give it all they can, won’t be hard at all…

  21. Aaron, I don’t think the article meant to play Farmar as a SG but ascribing to him the role of play maker and facilitator. Which should be what a PG does but, I think it would be a stretch to say Farmar could replicate what Kobe brings.

  22. Maybe I wasn’t clear when I said Farmar wouldn’t be replacing Kobe in the lineup…

  23. Agreed that Farmar’s a better option to keep Kobe’s minutes down. He’s the only shot creator of amongst the three athletic additions. I’m imagining that would take shape in a Farmar-Meeks backcourt, which would be problematic defensively against the bigger 2s.

    No matter which of those three LA leans on, it’ll be better than watching Chris Duhon launch threes from 30 ft. out or Morris struggle to comprehend the most basic concepts of the offense.
    For those interested in how this roster’s come about, here’s an article worth a read:

  24. darius: crystal clear; Farmar wouldn’t be replacing Kobe in the lineup…

    Go Lakers !

  25. Agreed…. My mistake. My ability to skim read has failed me. Farmar is definitely the only player on the Lakers who can create for his teammates… He would lighten the load off Kobe if Kobe indeed can still create shots after his injury/surgery. Although he wouldn’t keep his mutes down. Kobe will be on a Strict minutes diet the entire season doctor enforced. You know every time I think of his injury I was to punch MDA square in the groin. No in the face… But right in the groin. And I wouldn’t feel badly about it. It’s true. Playing a 35 year old Kobe for entire regular season games for three weeks straight is a criminal offense in Los Angeles and in the basketball courts. He should be jailed. I’m not joking. If I was a judge I would throw him in jail for three months. That’s his sentence. If Kobe wasn’t so strong willed it would be two years. I’m getting depressed just thinking about it.