There was going to come a day when the Lakers missed Jordan Farmar, and that day has arrived.
I’m serious. Hear me out.
In all the talk of what is wrong with the Lakers (2-4 in their last six and the SKY IS FALLING!) has been some discussion of “are the Lakers athletic enough?” The fact they do not have a roster of 24-year-olds who can jump out of the building became clear in the first-round playoff series last year against Oklahoma City. Then L.A. went out this summer and added guys like Steve Blake and Theo Ratliff. Veteran, savvy, but not exactly fleet of foot.
What the “athletic” comments really are asking is why do the Lakers look so slow?
Because they are playing slow, as was broken down today by Jeff Fogle at Hoopdata. The fact is the Lakers have not had more than 94 possessions in any of their last six games, that after having 95 or more in 21 of the first 28 games.
That slowdown in pace has been coupled with a reduced offensive efficiency — which shouldn’t be a surprise, teams score at a high rate in transition. Run less and your offensive efficiency tends to drop. The Lakers might be okay slowing the game down if they were playing good defense, but they haven’t done that in the last six games either.
Which brings us back to Jordan Farmar. His distaste for being the point guard in the triangle offense combined with a green light from Phil Jackson had Farmar pushing the pace of the Lakers second unit whenever he was on the floor. He got the outlet pass and ran up the floor with it and the rest of the Lakers would follow. He pushed them.
That is missed. Now the Lakers jog up after missed shots and give a cursory look for some early offense, then they start pounding the ball and running the offense. Derek Fisher does not push the tempo. Even the most athletic of the Lakers — Shannon Brown — has become a fan of over-dribbling in the offense.
There are a lot of things the Lakers need to start doing differently if they are to right the ship, getting out and running more is just one of them. But it sure would make things look a lot better.