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How Jordan Farmar Can Get His Groove Back

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COMMENTARY | I know. You need to have a groove in the first place before you can get it back, and it's fair to question whether Jordan Farmar has ever had a groove.

With some trepidation, I say yes. Anyone (i) picked 21 spots ahead of Paul Milsap, and (ii) traded for Shaq must have had some groove to his game at some point -- maybe in college. Then Farmar was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers and discovered the groove in Kobe's arthritic knee could dance circles around him.

Mind you, I've never been a Farmar fan. I used to joke that he was the poor man's version of Jacque Vaughn, and I meant that as an insult to Jacque Vaughn. But even a skeptic must acknowledge that Farmar had his moments; a timely 3-pointer or a key steal to shift momentum. Even Kobe once singled Farmar out as the impetus for a Game 2 victory over the Phoenix Suns in the 2010 Western Conference finals. Yes, even Farmar had 15 seconds of shine in the Hollywood sun.

But there's a reason Phil Jackson also assigned Farmar to a week in the D-League toward the end of the 2007 season. Phil Jackson and the triangle offense feature players who are cerebral as they are talented, and Jordan Farmar has never been synonymous with the thinking man's game. Hence my constant anxiety whenever he spelled Derek Fisher in the Lakers' most recent run of championships. Now Farmar is back, and I'm, dare I say, glad and cautiously optimistic.

D'Antoni's offense isn't for dummies, but it's more much more instinctive than the doctorate course syllabus of the triangle offense. D'Antoni isn't a Chess Master; rather than outsmart defensive schemes, he aims to make defenses uncomfortable. Push the tempo, space the floor, swing the ball and shoot without hesitation. Turnovers, while not embraced, are an acceptable byproduct if the offense is executed well.

Of course, respectable 3-point shooting is a prerequisite for success, and youth and athleticism certainly don't hurt. Don't look now, but Farmar is one of eight players on the current Lakers' roster younger than 30. And as long as some combination of Kobe/Pau Gasol/Chris Kaman/Jordan Hill is on the floor, opportunities will be there for Steve Nash, Nick Young, Jodie Meeks, Wesley Johnson, Steve Blake and Farmar to cash in from 3.

If ever Farmar were to get his groove back, now is the time. Turnovers won't get him automatically benched, because D'Antoni is counting on the other team being too fatigued to convert all those turnovers to points. And it's OK if Farmar goes 0-for-6 from beyond the arc, because D'Antoni plays the percentages and trusts that 0-for-6 will morph into 4-for-10. In fact, D'Antoni's offensive philosophy might be best described as "controlled carelessness," and Farmar could thrive in a reserve role if he can temper the careless instincts he demonstrated during his first run with Kobe. In Steve Nash, Farmar has the perfect tutor to hone his skills.

In all honesty, I thought the Lakers won back-to-back titles despite Farmar being on the roster. When the Lakers were true contenders, I couldn't wait to see him go, so my cautious enthusiasm about his return is also a commentary on the Lakers' current status. Anything can happen, but it's very difficult to envision the Lakers competing for a title next year.

Objectively, I think the Lakers will be a playoff team and a dangerous out come May 2014 (yes, May is when the second round of playoffs occur). They'll be entertaining and relevant by the standards of 28 teams, but disappointing by their own standards. This season is about finding which players will seize their current opportunity and justify a roster spot when the Lakers return to championship form. Will Jordan Farmar be one of those players? He has a chance to get his groove back, and in turn help the Lakers rediscover their groove. Groove #17.

Lucas Tucker has been a Los Angeles Lakers follower since 1983, and a Jordan Farmar detractor from 2006 until July, 2013.

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