I’m going to get our Jazz-Lakers playoff preview started with an in depth breakdown of the point guard play and how it will affect the series. This will be followed by previews of our defense, predictions, and much more from the rest of the authors so stay tuned for that.
To start off I want to examine each players strengths and weaknesses. All indications would point to PJ using a three-man rotation to combat Deron Williams, so here is a quick bio of him, JF, UPS, and D-Fish.
Jordan Farmar: Lightning quick guard in the half-court with an explosive first step, he has the ability to create his own shot with a drive to the hoop or a quick crossover. Decent shooter currently in a slump but with a knack for hitting the buzzer beater. Court vision and decision-making can be pour at times. Often a mismatch on defense at 6 feet, Farmar will gamble for steals and has a tendency to pick up reaching fouls. (6.4 pts; 2.4 ast; 1.8 rbs)
Shannon Brown: Super athletic 6’4” combo-guard with great strength, speed, and leaping ability. Still raw offensively, but can knock down the three, just not with great consistency. Decent court vision with the ability to see and throw over the defense. A nightmare match-up when he is on defense with his length and strength, but is still learning how to guard within the Lakers defensive scheme. Same goes for running the triangle-great potential but a long way to go. Potential pg of the future for the Lakers. (3.2 pts; 0.6 ast; 1.1 rbs) *with Lakers
Derek Fisher: Veteran leader of the Lakers and Kobe’s right-hand man in the locker room. Very intelligent player with excellent court vision and great passing ability. Can hit all of the jump shots but has trouble challenging at the rim. Lights-out 3 point shooter who like Farmar is currently in a bit of a slump. Solid defender who looks to draw the offensive foul and can rebound well. One of Jackson’s go to players in crunch time. (9.9 pts; 3.2 ast; 2.3 rbs)
Deron William: The complete package. At 6’3” he is the real deal and one of the 2 or 3 best point guards in the league as well as a perennial all-star. He is far and away the leader of the Jazz, especially with Boozer injured. Very quick and strong with great body control. Can knock down any shot on the floor, especially the three, and can drive aggressively to the rim, absorb the contact, and finish. Very solid and underrated on defense with his speed and strength. Excellent court vision and passing ability and strong rebounder on both offense and defense. Potential 25-10-7 guy every night. (19.4 pts; 10.7 ast; 2.9 rbs)
Next I want to address the poor play of Jordan Farmar because it has become a hot topic here on SS&R and has the potential to be a liability the deeper in the playoffs the Lakers go.
It is clear that JF is a shell of his former self. Whereas last year he averaged 9.1 ppg and shot 46% form the field and 37 % from three, this year his numbers are down to 6.4 ppg, 39% from the field, and 33% from three. Timbo first posed the question in a fanpost, and you can read my comments on the subject here. To sum it up, it seems as if he has lost his confidence and is thinking too much. This is supported by these comments form the LA Times (thanks to Nestor over at Bruins Nation for finding this):
"In high school nobody tried to tell me how to shoot and in college they tried to help me with my shot and here they try to help me with my shot. It's just sometimes I get caught in between shooting it the way I actually do it and the way I've been practicing. Sometimes that's all it takes."
"Every now and then I'll be like 'man I'm going to go back to that and just shoot the ball,'" Farmar said. "It's tough, because then you miss one and you think you should do it the other way. When it hits the front rim and comes out you can't be too upset about it. In high school, I used to get every bounce. Now it's hitting the rim, going in the basket and spinning back out."
We also need to take into consideration his knee injury from earlier in the season. Whether it is still bothering him or this is simply the moment when he lost his confidence remains unclear, but his sub par play has opened the door for increased playing time for UPS, who has stepped up and delivered (no pun intended). Given his recent struggles, lack of size, and recent news of injury, it is doubtful that JF will see any meaningful playing time against Williams, so I will turn my attention to Brown and Fish.
It would appear that UPS would match up better against D-Wil than D-Fish would. Brown has the strength and size to bother Williams and affect his shot and vision. That being said, Fisher is still the veteran and will be the one on the floor in the fourth quarter, and I am not worried about how he will defend him. Fish is a crafty player and will do a good job of not letting Williams take over a game. Brown is still too green to be counted on in the clutch, but he brings a nice energy off of the bench and at the very least gives us six more fouls to try and slow down D-Wil.
I would love to give you guys some adjusted offensive and defensive statistics, but outside of teams and top players, they just aren't out there. If anybody is feeling ambitious and has the know how, a statistical breakdown of this Lakers team would be a great resource. In the meantime, for those of you still curious John Hollinger over at ESPN and Baskerball-Reference.com seems to have some good player statistics, just nothing terribly enlightening with regards to this topic (except for the fact that D-Wil is the only one on Hollinger's list).
In the end, Williams is an elite player who will pretty much have his way against our team, but the Lakers should not worry about this. Due to all of the injuries and lack of depth, Utah is pretty much a one-man show at this point, and Deron is that show. He is being counted on to get the stops on defense, make all of the decisions and score most of the points, which is a lot to ask of a player against a team as good as the Lakers. If Kobe and Co make an effort to shut-down his passing options, then Williams can go for 40 and the Jazz will probably still lose. The point guard position is an advantage for the Jazz, but unfortunately for them it appears to be their only advantage. I do not foresee D-Wil giving the Lakers much trouble this series, no matter how outstanding he plays.
That’s it. Fire away with you thoughts below.
Go Purple & Gold!