Why Jordan Farmar Will Steal Lakers' Backup PG Role from Steve Blake

Bryant KnoxFeatured ColumnistAugust 29, 2013

Jordan Farmer deserves a shot at becoming the Los Angeles Lakers' backup point guard.
Jordan Farmer deserves a shot at becoming the Los Angeles Lakers' backup point guard.Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers have endured a summer of change, and while it hasn’t all been good, the return of Jordan Farmar is a bright spot entering the 2013-14 season.

With Steve Blake as the current backup point guard, there’s bound to be a competition for minutes. Both have played well of late, and both deserve a chance to compete for a spot behind Steve Nash.

But while each player will see the floor for the Lakers, don’t be shocked if Farmar is named the No. 2 point guard right out of the gate. He’s played solid basketball since leaving L.A., and he has higher upside than Blake both immediately and into the future.

Since his departure from Los Angeles, Farmar has seen statistical improvements across the board. In 2011-12—his last year in the NBA before heading overseas—he posted career highs in points, field-goal percentage, three-point percentage and free-throw percentage.

The year before he recorded a career-high five assists per contest, and he started 18 games along the way.

Between his time with the Nets and his stint overseas, Farmar has seen his role grow on the court. He was rarely a playmaker on past Lakers squads, but without a clear-cut sixth man in sight, the 26-year-old has a chance to make a name for himself on a new L.A. roster.

When comparing Farmar with Blake, both have the potential to be lights-out shooters. We’ve seen the two of them struggle throughout different points of their careers, but recent history has shown that they’re capable of finding a niche behind the arc.

What separates these two is athleticism and versatility. Blake’s shot will keep him relevant in Mike D’Antoni’s system, but Farmar’s ability to play quick, athletic basketball will help him thrive in an uptempo offense.

At 33 years old, Blake isn’t improving his athleticism. He has a gritty, intense attitude on the floor, but that can only get you so far when you're slow.

Farmar is far from a defensive specialist, but he’s easily the best defender at the point guard position. He has quick hands, and he’s more capable than Blake or Nash of standing face-to-face with an offensive opponent.

He's also been known to disrupt passing lanes, which is a huge asset when going up against bigger players.

When it comes down to it, Blake is better suited as a shooting guard. He may have been born with a point guard’s body, but he doesn’t like to push the pace, and he’s a pure shooter who can be counted upon when open in the corner.

Farmar, on the other hand, will be more of a playmaker for both himself and his teammates. He can hit the spot-up jumper when need be, but he’s going to push the ball in transition. That’s something Blake just doesn’t have in his arsenal.

With Kobe Bryant coming back from a season-ending injury, the Lakers need to fill time at the 2. Blake may not be the ideal candidate because of his size and defensive limitations, but he has a bit of a Napoleon complex that will work in his favor.

That leaves the backup point guard spot wide open for Farmar to come in and claim.

In a summer full of change, bringing back a familiar face will be nostalgic for fans in L.A. The Dwight Howard experiment was a colossal failure. Bryant is out—at least temporarily—and the hangover from 2012-13 will linger until the team can return to its winning ways.

Having Farmar on board won’t make this team a lock for the playoffs, but having a set rotation with capable players will push it in the right direction. This team no longer has a Lamar Odom to come in and make plays with the second unit, which is a role Farmar will look to fill in his first season back.

The Lakers get a player who can step in and provide consistency. He’s played alongside Bryant and Pau Gasol in the past, and he can take the pressure off of the stars when the situation calls for it.

For Farmar, he has a chance to re-establish himself as a solid role player. He’s not going to make fans forget about Howard, but he will contribute more than he ever did during his first stint in L.A.

Blake will have his chances to succeed if his shot is falling, but with Farmar officially on board, the time is now for the 26-year-old to make a name for himself.