2008-09 Season Preview: Point Guard
The goal for the 2008-09 Los Angeles Lakers is clear, simple and explicit: win the NBA title. Every team in the league, of course, aims for the championship, but few truly have the players to leg out the seven-month journey.
L.A. has those players.
We took a look position-by-position at each Laker based on what was done last season, what the numbers say, what assistant coach Jim Cleamons explained and what you can expect from a fantasy perspective.
When the Lakers re-acquired Derek Fisher from Utah prior to the 2007-08 season, the team surely was expecting the consistency that’s marked Fish’s 12 years in the NBA. But 82 starts, 11.7 points, nearly three assists and great marks from the foul line (8th in the NBA) and three-point line (21st) exceeded expectations. We’d be remiss not to mention Fisher’s importance as one of the league’s most respected locker room leaders, a guy whose work ethic and general intelligence clearly rubbed off on his young teammates in L.A.’s run to the NBA Finals.
88.3%: Free throw percentage by Fisher. That plus his cold blood is why he takes the second-to-last shot in make ‘em or run foul line drills (you know Kobe’s not letting even Fish have the last one).
51: Times Fisher scored in double-figures last season, including seven 20-point games.
9.0: Career scoring average for the guard out of Arkansas-Little Rock.
6: Playoff career-high steal total against Utah on May 4th last season.
“You just like his mental state of mind: he doesn’t get rattled; he’s been through a lot; he sees every situation. He’s just as solid as a rock, and when he comes with his mental approach, it stabilizes all the things we want to do out on the floor. He takes advantage of different combinations offensively and defensively to get what we want to get executed.”
In deep leagues and especially those that emphasize shooting percentages, Fish isn’t a bad guy to have on your bench. Ranked 157th by ESPN, Fisher hits nearly 90 percent from the stripe and over 40 percent from three plus at least a steal a game (1.05), which is pretty solid from a late-round pick. To be fair, he doesn’t rack up a lot of dimes in L.A.’s offense and won’t board or score a ton ... He’s surely more valuable in reality.
Just like his point guard mentor Derek Fisher, Farmar played in all 82 Laker games, averaging a healthy 9.1 points, 2.2 boards and 2.7 assists in just 20.6 minutes. The 26th pick of the 2006 Draft, Farmar saw a big bump in field-goal percentage from his rookie year from 42.2 percent to 46.1 percent. His three-point shooting improved as the season went on and his assist-to-turnover ratio was near 2-to-1, but it wasn’t the numbers so much as Farmar’s game-changing speed that made a big impact upon L.A.’s win column. Led by Jordan, L.A.’s bench was arguably the NBA’s best throughout the season – at least until running into a tougher, more experienced Celtics pine squad in the Finals.
By The Numbers:
4.3: A guess for Farmar’s speed in the 40-yard dash. Multiply that number by 10, and you have Farmar’s fierce vertical jump.
59.1: Farmar’s preseason shooting percentage (through six games) in arguably the most impressive training camp of any Laker. Add 12 points, three assists and two steals in 20 minutes.
67.9: Farmar’s free-throw percentage last season, a number that improved markedly in the playoffs, though his field-goal and three-point shooting decreased simultaneously.
173: ESPN’s too-low fantasy rank for Farmar. If you can take the under on that in Vegas, go all in.
"When Jordan plays with energy, he gets the rest of our team going. Getting a steal, disrupting the other team’s timing and rhythm, those little pesky things (really help). Not settling for jumpers all the time and being aware that there may be an alley to drive to either score or pass is what Jordan needs to do to make his game more well-rounded and take advantage of the people he’s playing against. Defensively we put him and Derek Fisher into matchups where we can consistently get help from our scheme so that we don’t jeopardize everything we’ve worked on."
He might be the best fantasy steal on this Lakers team, and should be drafted in all leagues. While we can guess that he’ll average double-figure points, around four assists and a few rebounds and could be among league leaders in steals, every Farmar category could improve after a fantastic preseason. Phil Jackson will probably have no choice but to leave him on the floor for at least a handful of more minutes than he saw last season (20.6). Plus, his three-point shot looks much better this season.
As a key member of the Beijing Aoshen Olympians of China’s American Basketball Association (ABA), Sun averaged 16.3 points, 7.4 boards, 4.9 assists, 2.3 steals and 1.9 blocks in 40.2 minutes. A First Team All-ABA selection, Sun – who turns 22 on Nov. 6 - is also a member of the Chinese National team. At the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Sun started all six games for China and averaged 6.8 points, 1.7 boards, 2.5 assists and 1.33 steals in 28 minutes.
By The Numbers:
0: Attempted field goals and threes it took Sun to shoot 47.5 percent from the field and 34.0 from three, according to the Chinese ABA stats. Of course, the ABA didn’t keep track of field goal attempts. Or turnovers. Or personal fouls.
0: Points in L.A.’s first six preseason games for Sun, who in about seven minutes a game has missed all four of his shots from the field and all three of his free throws. Physically, he’s not at an NBA level yet, but he does show the talent for which he was drafted in practice.
49.3: Fantasy points a game scored by Sun in his Aoshen team, using the two points for everything but scoring system. Go ahead Sun!
"The fact is, you’re asking a lot of a young basketball player who is living over here now in a new country, and there are so many things going on for him. We all have to find a comfort level, and there’s a learning curve, but even with the life and basketball transition he’s making, I’m very encouraged by how mentally strong he appears. He’s grasping what we’re doing, understanding our language and taking it to the floor, and I feel a lot better about him."
Sorry, no fantasy value for Sun, unless your team is so good that you take him as a joke in the final round (to rub-in your dominance over your buddies).