Who should back-up Los Angeles’ Derek Fisher: Shannon Brown or Jordan Farmar?
Los Angeles Lakers’ coach Phil Jackson has a choice: Shannon Brown’s size or Jordan Farmar’s speed?
When starting point guard Derek Fisher needs a rest (or gets suspended), the sideline boss can use Brown’s muscular frame, or, after his stellar performance in game three, Farmar’s quickness.
This is the best of both worlds. Having two quality back-ups is a luxury, which will only enhance the purple-and-gold’s chances of winning an NBA Title.
Brown, a young pro from Michigan State, was acquired from Charlotte with Adam Morrison in the Vlad Radmanovic trade. This move was made for cap purposes –trading Radmanovic’s long-term deal for Brown and Morrison’s expiring contracts would create cap space to re-sign unrestricted free agents Trevor Ariza and/or Lamar Odom this summer.
The Lakers also got a contributor. With Farmar struggling and Jackson’s preference for size in the backcourt, Brown was given an opportunity. And the young guard delivered, averaging 7 points per game in 17 minutes of action in the first round versus Utah. Through three games against Houston he has posted a respectable 6 points per contest.
But Brown will have an NBA career because of his athleticism. At 6-4 inches and 210 pounds, he has a rare combination of size and skill that creates problems for most lead guards. At under a million dollars per season, this bargain basement player will surely get a raise in July.
Farmar, of course, was once the heir apparent at point guard. The third-year man and Fisher were expected to pull a B.J. Armstrong and John Paxson and switch roles on the first and second unit. And many, myself included, were predicting big things for Farmar.
Injuries and slumping confidence set in. In mid December, he suffered a nasty knee injury, missed several weeks, and struggled the rest of the year. By playoffs, the former blue-chipper was out of Jackson’s rotation and chained to the bench.
Ironically, Fisher’s suspension rejuvenated Farmar and strengthened the Lakers. In game three, playing 32 minutes as the starter, the UCLA grad dropped an efficient 12 points, seven assists, two steals, and one turnover, while holding Houston’s Aaron Brooks to seven points. Brown did his thing, too, coming off the bench to score eight points.
Friday’s contest showed it’s not Brown or Farmar, but Brown and Farmar. And using both their size and speed gives Phil Jackson and the Lakers a better chance at playoff success.