Surprising Name Who Will Make a Big Impact for LA Lakers in 2013-14August 26, 2013
Like the return of the prodigal son, the re-signing of Jordan Farmar could result in an impact of biblical proportions for both the Los Angeles Lakers and Farmar himself.
Nothing more than a key contributor from the Lakers' heralded bench mob during his initial tenure, Farmar's development during his subsequent seasons with the New Jersey Nets and various teams in Europe could make him a surprisingly important piece to the Lakers' playoff hopes this season.
While Farmar does have a measure of athleticism, he possesses a great all-around game that should help him fit into Mike D'Antoni's offense right away.
An underrated passer and defender, Farmar should see a lot of minutes as Steve Nash's primary substitute. In fact, Farmar could even see minutes during clutch situations because he is a better defender than Nash.
His versatility should allow him to create both for himself and for his teammates.
It is hard to see him being anything more than a typical role player when glancing at his career statistics. Averaging less than eight points, three rebounds and two assists per game, Farmar's stats are average at best.
What's going to keep him on the floor for extended minutes are his intangibles.
The fact that Farmar is a quick defender means he could see a lot of time when Nash is outmatched by superior athletes.
While Farmar isn't a defensive ace by any stretch of the imagination, he is much more intuitive than Nash. He averages 0.8 steals per game to Nash's 0.7 steals per game despite averaging more than 10 minutes less than Nash.
The extended minutes Farmar should get for being a better defender mean that he should be able to contribute offensively as well.
With the backup guard spots being wide open for the best players to grab, Farmar has the potential to overtake Jodie Meeks and Nick Young for the lion's share of the minutes. His 36.7 three-point percentage is identical to Meeks' and less than a percent lower than Young's percentage. This means that no backup guard has the edge in three-point shooting.
However, Farmar is a far superior passer and his ability to play both guard spots makes him a more viable option than either Meeks or Young as the first guard off the bench.
Averaging a bit less than three assists per game, Farmar is an underrated passer because his assist totals were mitigated playing within the triangle offense. Under D'Antoni's run-and-gun offense, Farmar should thrive as a creator and a three-point finisher in transition.
Not only is Farmar able to finish in transition with a three, he also has the handles and disposition to find open teammates or finish at the rim during the fast break.
This offensive versatility should only help to generate more playing time for a guard who can supplement Nash's offense while playing better defense.
Aside from the numbers, Farmar also holds the trust of both Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant.
Having the backing of the two most important Lakers can be a huge benefit for Farmar. Despite Bryant's facilitating ways last season, Kobe is still a shoot-first type of player. When he passes, he wants to pass to players that he knows can nail down shots.
Having the trust of a superstar like that (à la Steve Kerr to Michael Jordan) can mean that Farmar has a lot more offensive opportunities than his cohorts.
Most of Farmar's impact should come from his ability to earn minutes with his intangibles, his skill set and the improvements he has made during his years away from the NBA. However, there is no denying that having Bryant's and Gasol's trust can give him the edge over Meeks and Young in terms of having opportunities to prove himself.
Returning to the Lakers is the perfect chance for Farmar to re-establish himself in the league. He comes in with an opportunity to contribute more than he did during his previous tenure—without the pressure of winning right away due to the Lakers' colossal collapse last season.
If Farmar shows strides in his game and makes the most out of his role, he could become a very important piece of the Lakers' puzzle moving forward.