Five things Derek Fisher needs for a successful season
1. Elevate his co-captain's role with Kobe Bryant. Derek Fisher's strong locker-room standing and relationship with Kobe Bryant becomes even more valuable this season. Mike Brown needs Fisher as a possible buffer toward Bryant and any other teammate who may resist the coach's philosophies. Bryant needs Fisher since he's the only one who can keep him in check. Fisher needs to enhance this role because his on-court play might diminish.
2. Handle any reduced role in a professional manner. I've argued that as long as the Lakers don't make any significant upgrades at point guard, Fisher needs to keep the starting spot because of his leadership qualities and the lack of a better alternative. I'm not oblivious, however, to the possibility that Fisher might lose his starting job because Brown's offense centers more on speed and athleticism. Fisher's a consummate professional, but he's also a prideful guy. It's going to be important that he bites his tongue and simply uses any demotion as motivation should Steve Blake or Darius Morris take his starting job.
3. Compensate for lacking speed. One way to assuage those concerns would be to improve his ability to defend quicker guards. Of course, Fisher's never at fault for not hustling. He's at fault for his abilities. But there are ways to compensate for it beyond enhancing his conditioning. Ensuring he receives enough help defense, getting deflections and taking timely charges will help offset that.
4. Temper shot selection. Last season, Fisher ranked pretty poorly among the league's 65 point guards in several categories, including 55th in effective field-goal percentage (48.6%), 60th in player efficiency rating (8.94), and -- despite a jump in stats from the past two seasons -- being among the worst in finishing at the rim off the dribble (49.3%). As much as Fisher fields criticism for his defense, he deserves more scrutiny on his shot selection.
5. Become a clutch shooter again. Usually Fisher comes through during the postseason and validates his worth again to a doubting public. He may have exceeded his regular-season average last season, going from 6.8 points per game on 38.9% shooting to 9.3 points on 52.6% shooting in the playoffs, but his numbers in the Lakers' Western Conference semifinals sweep by Dallas dropped to 6.5 points per game on 31% shooting. He offered no late-game clutch play in the postseason, an obvious missing piece considering Bryant's sudden ineffectiveness late in the game and Pau Gasol's complete disappearing act.
Five things to ensure a successful season for...
-- Mark Medina
E-mail the Lakers blog at firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times