This is the next piece in our series of Player Report Cards, in which we evaluate and assign a grade to the performance of each member of the 2009-10 Los Angeles Lakers. Next in line is Jordan Farmar, a.k.a ... um ... a.k.a. the mean name of your choice having to do with his abnormally large ears.
Our season review now lands on one Jordan Farmar, the only member of the 2009-2010 Los Angeles Lakers that we know for sure will not be back with the team. The writing may be on the wall for some of the lesser lights, as the Lakers have replacements for benchwarmers DJ Mbenga (Theo Ratliff), Josh Powell (Derrick Caracter), and Adam Morrison (the air which was previously displaced by Adam Morrison), but as of the time of this writing, Farmar is the only former Laker to actually sign a contract with another team, a 3 year deal with the New Jersey Nets. (Update: Apparently the Josh Powell to Atlanta thing is more than just a rumor. Sorry, his signing didn't register on multiple outlets I care to read)
The separation was a mutual thing. Jordan has been making noise about wanting to start for a couple years now, and his fit with the Lakers was a classic example of a square peg and a round hole. That's why the Lakers did not even extend Farmar a qualifying offer to retain the right to match any contract Farmar signed with another team, a gesture that Farmar spun as a kindness, since it was clear he was interested in looking elsewhere.
I'm sorry, did I say square peg and round hole? What I meant was a triangle peg and a triangle hole. The problem is that the triangle hole is equilateral, and Jordan's triangle peg could only ever be obtuse.
That's the tragedy (ok, mild sadness) of Jordan Farmar. He didn't fit with the Lakers vision of his role, but not because he lacks the tools. The triangle guard needs only to do a few things well; Be able to initiate the offense properly, play decent defense, and stroke the 3. Farmar knows how to initiate the offense properly, his above average atheleticism counteracts his below average defensive instincts, and he was actually the best 3 pt shooter on last year's team (ok, not really, but I want you to research the two guys ahead of him, it's good for a laugh). But he was never interested in playing the role that this team wanted him to play. Jordan Farmar has always wanted his success to come on his own terms.
That's not a crime. The Lakers happen to have another guard who wanted success on his own terms, and that guy just picked up his 2nd straight Finals MVP. In fact, there are quite a few similarities of personality between Jordan Farmar and the previously alluded to Kobe Bryant. They are both so confident in their abilities that the confidence could just as well be labeled arrogance or smugness. They are both unafraid to take buzzer beating shots (though Farmar's 1st quarter buzzer beaters just don't quite match up to Kobe's versions), and they both have a stuborness that can do more harm than good.
But personality is where the similiarities end. Jordan has good athleticism for his size, but he's not on Kobe's level. His consistency isn't even close, and as for his work ethic? Well, comparing Kobe's work ethic to anybody is unfair, but there's a story about how, on the night the Lakers drafted Javaris Crittenton (one year after drafting Farmar), Jordan came to the Lakers' practice facility. It was a nice little anecdote, putting Farmar's competitive drive on display. There's just one problem ... Kobe would have been there the night before, and the night after, and all nights in between.
Therein lies Jordan's problem. He is determined to seek success on his own terms, but he lacks the superstar pedigree to make teams be willing to bend to his determination. A superstar can get away with it, but a role player like Jordan is cutting himself off at the knees.
Wow, 600 words and I haven't said a single thing about Farmar's play this season. Jordan is the first player we've discussed that has already left, but he's also the first real contributor to be discussed. If you check out the minutes breakdown of our players, there is a clear top 8, those 8 played 90% of all relevant minutes. So, unlike in reviewing Luke Walton's and DJ Mbenga's season, this is a guy who actually played important minutes en route to another championship. So what did he do with those minutes?
As it always seems to be with Jordan, it's a decidedly mixed bag. Over the course of the season, per 36 minutes, he scored 14.4 points and handed out 3.5 assists. He ended up with a PER which was a shade higher than Ron Artest (keep in mind, PER majorly fails to compensate for defensive ability), and he and Shannon Brown were, on paper at least, virtually identical in terms of production. That production isn't impressive, but it's not exactly woeful either. And don't let that 43.5% FG% fool you, because nearly 1/2 of Jordan's shots were from 3 pt range. Adjusted eFG shows that only Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum were more effective at converting shots to points, so Farmar was clearly the best outside shooter on the team last year. He started off poorly (eFG of 47% in November) and ended very poorly (eFG of 39% in April), but his middle months were full of strong shooting. He did a decent job taking care of the ball, with less turnovers per 36 than all of our big 3
But anybody who watched the games couldn't have been all that thrilled with Jordan's play. He and Shannon Brown combined forces to ensure that the offense never ran smoothly when the 2nd unit took the court, mainly be throwing up shots without running the offense. Farmar was 4th on the team in usage, taking up 19% of the possessions on the court, and considering that Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum were only a couple percentage points higher, that's unacceptable. Also, for someone who has very good quickness, he failed to get to the free throw line very often. It's hard to put your finger on exactly why Farmar's season wouldn't be considered a moderate success when staring at the stat sheets, but one remembers his play being more frustrating than exhilirating. He's an energy guy, the guy who comes off the bench to provide a spark, but too often he failed to harness that energy and turn it into something that was beneficial to the team. He made not have turned the ball over all that often, but the turnovers he did have were of the facepalm variety.
His playoffs was just more of the same. He maintained good outside shooting, once again taking top honors from the outside with a 40% clip. But he was part of the woefully inconsistent bench group that made a difference every single night in the playoffs, with that difference being bad more often than not, and his performance in the Finals left much to be desired. There were bright moments, such as game 6, when he made quite a few energy plays to help the Lakers set the tone in destroying Boston in L.A., and also reminded those who had forgotten (on acccount of backcourt mate Shannon Brown's ridiculous hops) that Farmar is no slouch in the athletic department. Enjoy Farmar's last memorable moment as a Laker.
So Jordan Farmar is trading the golden pastures of Los Angeles for the greener pastures of New Jersey. For a player of his age and experience, there's no harm in that. We wish him the best, with no ill will, but also knowing that his loss isn't one to regret with much passion.
Final Grade: C+