Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Why the Lakers shouldn’t pursue veteran Derek Fisher

With the recent news of former Laker point guard Derek Fisher being eligible to sign once again with Los Angeles; many fans within the Lakers’ community have been vocal about bringing back the former captain for one more season. Most of those fans believe Fisher could help the team, describing him with words like “leadership” and “veteran presence”.

I’ve always been a big Derek Fisher fan. He’s had so many moments that will go down in Laker history (Like this. Or this. And this.) and he was a key part to five championship Laker squads. When the Lakers traded him during the season, I was disappointed to see him go, however I understood why the front office decided to part ways when they did. Fisher was always one of the “glue” guys; he brought stability and leadership to the locker room and was one of the only players that Kobe Bryant could see eye to eye on.

Here’s the problem with bringing him back: He’s declined far too much to be a suitable back up. Steve Nash is the team’s new starting point guard, and at 38 years of age, he’s not getting any younger. Mike Brown will likely limit Nash’s minutes from 30 to 35 per game to help keep him fresh for the playoffs (a similar strategy is run by the Spurs’ Gregg Popovich). For Mike Brown to be able to do this though, he will need an adequate back up at the position. The other two point guards on the roster are Steve Blake and Chris Duhon.

Here’s the comparison between the three:

We can see that the numbers are about even. Except that Fisher accomplished this while playing near starter minutes for the Lakers; the per 36 minutes of playtime numbers favor Steve Blake in just about every category. Fisher’s OWS (Offensive Win Shares) this season was -0.2. Steve Blake’s was 0.2. I know, not much of an improvement, however the Lakers can’t afford to downgrade at any position coming off the bench.

Fisher has been notoriously bad on defense for at least three seasons now. His DWS (the same as OWS except with defense) was 0.2; Steve Blake’s was 0.8. Fisher has almost declined to the point of no longer belonging in the NBA. His WS/48 was 0.010 (average is 0.100). He’s no longer a good option for a team that needs an adequate back up and is stacked with veteran voices for the locker room.

I like Derek Fisher. He’s the creator of many classic Laker moments, but he’s over-the-hill and, at this point, would cause more harm than good for Los Angeles.