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Report Card - Jordan Farmar

July 1, 2008 | 11:23 am

FarmarSome folks were surprised to even see Jordan Farmar in a Laker uni come late October, given how the off-season included the Lakers' drafting Javaris Crittenton from Georgia Tech, then signing Derek Fisher when family matters led to his release from the Utah Jazz.  Both developments, along with Farmar's mighty struggles in the 2007 playoffs (albeit against Steve Nash, who often makes many a point guard look bad) led to speculation that the Lakers were putting him on the block.  To his credit, the former Bruin didn't sulk upon the arrival of either new teammate and by all accounts, handled the situation by upping an already gym-rat-centric schedule.   

Then, despite whatever theoretical question marks were surrounding him, Farmar found keys of sorts being handed to him during preseason.  In part because of the Jordan's skill set and quickness, Phil Jackson opted to run (literally) with a pine unit frequently pushing the tempo.  The quarterback was Farmar, who proved himself perhaps not quite Peyton Manning, but definitely a far, far cry from Ryan Leaf. The role suited him well and he helped create a chemistry among his fellow second stringers that became a season-long asset for the Lakers. 

For that matter, so was Farmar.

The work put in during the summer was evident off the bat, as double figures were racked in nine out of fifteen games.  Scorching from both the field (51%) and from behind the arc (41%), Fisher's sub constantly attacked the rim, working a sweet teardrop or worming his way past defenders for a layup.  A kinship with Andrew Bynum also developed in ASAP fashion, the pair often running a two-man with both greatly flourished.  But no matter who shuffled in and out of the second unit, Farmar typically helped them and himself.  In just five additional minutes than than his rookie season, Farmar doubled (and then some) his scoring figures, reminiscent of the sizable bumps accrued in just about every major statistical category (the exception being turnovers, which ain't exactly a bad thing). 

At times, however, I wasn't enamored with every increased tally.  I've never been to Farmar's casa, but as the season wore on, he appeared to be represent Downtown, too often firing away from behind the arc with results not always kind (most visibly apparent in a disappointing March).  And one big weakness from last season still lingers.  The second year guard is often good for a timely steal (among those playing a full season, his per-48 ranked only behind Kobe Bryant), but as we saw during the playoffs, Farmar remains susceptible to getting beat off the dribble or, especially, bullied around by bigger players.  In particular, Deron Williams destroyed him. 

This defensive shortcoming has some doubting whether Farmar is ready for life in the Kobe-Pau-Bynum Lane, a question even more relevant with Fisher having concluded a "better than expected but ain't getting any younger" campaign.  To be honest, I understand the uncertainty, especially in regards to Jordan's size.  But even if Farmar remains bench bound next season, that's hardly a catastrophe.  He'd be one of the NBA's best backup points and with more strides, perhaps among the better sixth men.  Either way, he's proved himself at just 21-years-old capable of contributing to a championship caliber squad, so there's little reason to be down on a player who avoided the dreaded sophomore slump.

Final grade: B+