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Jordan Is Battling ...

Seems like its the time of the year when we start paying closer attention to the Lakers and especially to our UCLA alums playing for the Purple and Gold and other teams in the NBA. Browsing through the google alerts I stumbled into the following LAT blogpost on JF struggling in his third season in the NBA. And I mean he is struggling shooting only 39 percent from the floor and a surreal 58 percent from the FT line. Apparently he has lost a lot of PT to Shannon Brown. He offered up the following response:

“We want everybody to be successful,” he said. “[Shannon's] playing pretty good basketball – hustling, making things happen, knocking down shots.” But still, with Farmar's minutes decreasing, the disappointment on his face was palpable.

The former UCLA star was 1-8 in the preceding game against Sacramento. He is shooting under 35 percent from the floor since the All-Star break. It's never a good sign when your field goal percentage could be mistaken for a batting average. Is Farmar's Chris Dudley-esque shooting performance mental or mechanics?

“A little bit of both. In high school nobody tried to tell me how to shoot and in college they tried to help me with my shot and here they try to help me with my shot. It's just sometimes I get caught in between shooting it the way I actually do it and the way I've been practicing. Sometimes that's all it takes.”

Any shooter, or golfer for that matter, knows the mind-games that can ensue when fighting a natural tendency with a new motion.

“Every now and then I'll be like 'man I'm going to go back to that and just shoot the ball,'" Farmar said. “It's tough, because then you miss one and you think you should do it the other way. When it hits the front rim and comes out you can't be too upset about it. In high school, I used to get every bounce. Now it's hitting the rim, going in the basket and spinning back out.”

So naturally I wondered over to Silver Screen and Roll (SSR) to find out what was going on. Sure enough there is a discussion on JF and I found some familiar friends offering reliable opinions. BN's Tydides on SSR offering his thought on JF's struggles:

It reminds me a lot of his second year at UCLA when he injured his ankle and played through it but his vertical explosiveness was taken from him. He has never been particularly quick laterally but when healthy he has good north-south quickness and good hops. Maybe he actually feels fine and he’s just in a slump, but there are similarities here and it is possible that he’s not confident in his leg holding up.

And Sideout11:

I’d say confidence. A lot of times rookies don’t know what’s good for them, so they end up doing things that they shoudn’t and getting away with it (hard drives to the rim, taking on a seven footer, thinking they can guard Kobe, etc). This can make for a very successful first few years where you are playing less on a system and more on pure talent and athletic ability, and I think that’s what we saw with Jordan.

However, I also think that Jordan now knows what’s good for him, and as a result is thinking about how everything he does should fit into the triangle instead of just playing. Last year when he was in, Jordan played almost a pick and roll type offense like he was familiar with at UCLA. Phil kept saying that he wanted him to slow down and run the triangle, and I think JF has finally started doing that, but it does not mesh with his aggressive, fast-paced style of play.

While the Bruin Nation is representing in force on the new Laker blog (which is off to a great start), SSR is keeping faith in JF:

This can't be easy for Jordan Farmar, but if he maintains this mindset, he can only help us in our Quest. I also suspect that we haven't heard the last of him yet, by a long shot.

Again, a favorite topic here in the early days of SS&R: Jordan Farmar, Shannon Brown, Deron Williams. Lesson to take from this: It's good to be excited about Shannon "UPS" Brown; but instead of dismissing Farmar in favor of our new toy, Lakers fans should be praying to God Almighty that Jordan regains his earlier form.

Not just Laker fans. I'd think the entire Bruin Nation is behind JF. Hope he hangs in there through this rough patch. I think it's a matter of mentally getting it together after returning from injury. If he gets the confidence back, we will see the classic JF soon enough.