When Jordan Farmar signed with the Los Angeles Lakers back in July it was initially thought as a blissful reunion and that he resume the role he had when he last played for the organization during the 2009-10 season.
But this time around it is a bit different for Farmar, as he is a much different player than he was in his first stint with the team. In his three seasons away from the Lakers, he was the backup point guard to Deron Williams with the then New Jersey Nets and played professionally overseas with the Anadolu Efes in the Turkish Basketball League.
The decision to play in Turkey with the Efes provided him arguably the most important experience in his professional basketball career because he able feel what it is like to be leaned upon as his team’s best player and primary scoring option.
“I got a chance to do a lot more. When I was here, the first time we were in the triangle, I was young I was just trying to fit in any way I could,” Farmar said in his introductory press conference in July. “Leaving, I got to play a lot more pick-and-roll basketball. Really going overseas I got to carry a whole team. The success of our team depended on how I played individually every night.”
The move to Turkey also allowed Farmar to grow as person on and off the court.
“I think that’s the biggest thing for me, I had a chance to get away from home, live elsewhere, live in another country, start a family of my own,” Farmar said at Lakers’ Media Day in September. “I have grown a lot since the last I was here, and I look forward to taking all that I have learned and matured a little bit into this next season.”
Playing for a professional team outside the NBA gave Farmar some much needed experience that has helped mold him into the basketball player that he is today. He is a different player, which his coaches and teammates have noticed as he became one of the vocal leaders on the team during training camp.
“What he does, you can already see,” head coach Mike D’Antoni said of Farmar. “He’s going to be very effective this year. The biggest thing is his toughness. Along with Blake, he’s just coming at you. Then you can say, he shoots the ball really well, he’s quick, he’s feisty. He has good court vision.”
In his limited action on the floor in the preseason he made his presence known off the bench in the four games he played by scoring in double digits three times with a high of 20 points. He has continued his high level of play into the regular season as he is averaging 10.0 points, 4.5 assists and 3.8 rebounds in 22.0 minutes per game.
His leadership and ability to orchestrate the offense with the second unit was evident in the season opener as helped lead the Lakers to a 116-103 win over the Los Angeles Clippers by contributing 16 of the 76 points scored by the bench.
Farmar’s importance to the team does not only lie with him being the team’s primary ball handler and orchestrator of the offense for the team’s second unit, but also as the lead guard behind Steve Nash. The Lakers’ 39-year-old point guard has continued to show signs of aging as he has already experienced a multitude of minor injuries this past preseason and regular season.
In the preseason he dealt with a sore left ankle, stiff neck and quad issues, which can be added to him admitting prior to Tuesday’s game against the Dallas Mavericks that he is still feeling that effects of the broken left fibula he suffered in the second game of last season.
“Really, I’m still fighting things that happened because of the broken leg, with all of the nerve issues,” Nash said before the Lakers’ game on Tuesday against the Dallas Mavericks. “So, it is what it is. I’m optimistic still that I can get to the highest level I can get at this stage. I think if [Sunday] night is an indication, if I can get up another level or two, I’m going to be pretty effective.”
With the fact that injuries are beginning to pile up for Nash and that he is still recovering from last year’s set of injuries is a telling sign that this season will be a battle with keeping him healthy. So with that said, Farmar’s role on the team will be expanded and he will be more heavily leaned upon as Nash will likely play in a tighter restricted minutes leash as a precaution to health.
The 26-year-old should be ready for that load as he can use his experience in Turkey as a guide to how he must play in an expanded role, where the team is depending on his leadership and ability to run the offense as the primary ball handler on the floor.
In his second stint with the Lakers he is a more confident and mature player, who at this point in his career, knows what he can provide on the court for his team and with that knowledge Farmar can be an effective player at what he knows he does best. He will use his quickness to get to the rim for a high percentage shot or find a teammate for an open look, create space for his own shot with his dribbling either from mid-range or beyond the arc, and can be a pesky defender on defense.
What also heightens his impact on this team is how well he fits into D’Antoni’s fast-paced offense, as it also him to play freely and make quick decisions either to create his own shot or find his teammate for a open shot.
As the regular season continues on, Farmar’s importance to the team’s success will become more evident as the bench’s stability and reliability will be there on a consistent basis with him leading the way. One thing is for certain from Farmar, he is the type of player that will bring great effort every night and sometimes it will show on the stat sheet and other nights it won’t, but his impact will be felt on the game one way or another.
“Hopefully I can play at a better rate at some point in the near future,” Nash said. Then he added the following without any reporter solicitation: “But also you’re going to see Jordan really come alive and play well more consistently and give us a real player who can help the team.”
Photo Credit: Lakers.com
Bob Garcia IV
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