The loss of Los Angeles Lakers’ swingman Jordan Farmar is a crippling blow to a secondary Laker unit that has played exceptionally well this year. The UCLA product was diagnosed with a torn left hamstring after leaving the Lakers’ Nov. 30th loss to the Portland Trail Blazers in the first quarter.
Farmar, who won two championship rings with the Lakers in 2009 and 2010, took a $4 million pay cut this summer to come back to Hollywood, leaving Anadolu Efes, the Turkish team he played for in the 2012-13 season after signing a three-year, $15 million deal contract at the beginning of that season.
Farmar has so far excelled this season, averaging 9.2 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 4.4 assists in close to 20 minutes of play per game while anchoring the league’s highest scoring bench (per Hoop Stats).
A fan favorite, Farmar was awarded a number of accolades, including being named High School Player of the year by the LA Times in 2003-04, after leading Taft High School to their first ever Los Angeles City title. He went on to play at UCLA, where he was named Rivals.com National Freshman of the Year, as well as Pac-10 Freshman of the Year. The following year, he led the Bruins to the championship at the 2006 NCAA Tournament, which they lost 73-57 to the Florida Gators. He declared for the NBA draft during that offseason.
Drafted by the Lakers with the 26th pick in the 2006 NBA draft, Farmar played sparingly in his first NBA season, getting minutes with both the Lakers and their D-League affiliate, the Los Angeles D-Fenders. He replaced Smush Parker as the Lakers starting point guard shortly before the 2007 playoffs. Farmar earned a reputation as a hustle player during his time as a Laker and was a key contributor to the Lakers titles in 2009 and 2010. Perhaps his most iconic moment as a Laker came in Game 6 of the 2009 NBA finals when Farmar drove the lane and dunked on the Boston Celtics’ Kevin Garnett.
Farmar then went on to play for the New Jersey Nets and Atlanta Hawks, as well as international stints with Maccabi Tel Aviv and Anadolu Efes before returning to the Lakers this offseason.
This season, Farmar has played extended minutes because of the injury to Steve Nash, primarily backing up Steve Blake off the bench. Farmar and Blake each play a different style of basketball, yet complement each other perfectly. Blake is an excellent set-shooter with a pass-first mentality; he often runs the baseline and penetrates the paint in the hopes of drawing an extra defender so he can pass to the open man.
However, Farmar is a much more aggressive guard, content and capable of taking the ball to the hoop with power. He’s an excellent finisher at the rim as well as a decent mid-range shooter.
While his three-point shooting isn’t as accurate as Blake’s, Farmar’s 39.3% percentage from beyond the arc is more than respectable. Because of their differing styles of play, Farmar and Blake have done a wonderful job of confusing defenses and keeping them on their toes.
However, perhaps the area the Lakers will miss Farmar the most is his ability to control the pace of the offense. Farmar routinely sets up an offense that consists of players like Nick Young, Jodie Meeks, Wesley Johnson, and Xavier Henry, all of whom have little to no point guard experience.
Farmar is the perfect catalyst for Coach Mike D’Antoni to run a smooth and efficient offense. Without him, it is hard to say whether the Lakers bench can keep up their stellar production. Needless to say, the pressure is on Steve Nash to return as soon as possible to add depth to a suddenly depleted point guard position.