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Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Fisher and Blake in the same backcourt? Unlikely, says Fish...

By Brian Kamenetzky

On paper, at least, the Lakers have significantly more depth than last season. More depth means more options, and if there's one thing Phil Jackson (or any coach, really) likes, it's options.

One, monkeyed with by Jackson against F.C. Barcelona, puts Derek Fisher and Steve Blake in the backcourt together, with the new guy playing the off guard spot. Blake has plenty of NBA experience as a two, so asking him to play there in L.A. isn't like asking a giraffe to play the accordion. The setup isn't ideal- matched with Fisher, the 6'3" Blake would leave the Lakers both undersized and under-quicked. And while both are scrappy, positionally sound, willing defenders- Blake has spent plenty of time guarding Kobe Bryant, and at the very least always forced Bryant to earn his keep- the combo would often leave the Lakers defending a mismatch.

But are there enough positives to outweigh the potential dangers? Fisher was asked Monday if he thought he and Blake would see the court together during the year. "In our system, it's always possible. We could do it," he said, "but I think with the guys that we have, I don't think there will be any need to, to play guys at different positions too much. I think that we have everything that we need at every position, and there really won't be any one guy that has to overdo it."

Or, if I might paraphrase, "We shouldn't need to."



Obviously Kobe's recovery from surgery to his right knee has a huge impact on what the rotation among the guards will look like. Assuming he's good to go when the regular season starts, there really are only so many minutes to go around for non-Kobe-inclusive guard tandems.

I doubt Phil Jackson will turn regularly to the Fisher/Blake combo... unless necessity becomes the mother of invention. Unfortunately, there's a risk the guys behind Kobe on the depth chart at shooting guard (Shannon Brown, Sasha Vujacic) won't perform well, opening the door. I suspect Phil Jackson will put Blake and Fish together a few more times in the preseason, particularly while Kobe's minutes are down. Once the regular season starts, though, short some very specific matchups against undersized backcourts, he'll leave the tandem on ice.