Player Report Card: Derek Fisher

He’s never been the tallest, the fastest, the quickest or the best playmaker, but Derek Fisher is always there for the Lakers when it counts. Even if he is mismatched on defensive assignments or forced to relegate himself to only open jumpers, Fisher has been at the backbone of each of the Lakers’ five championships since 2000.

However, as the years have gone by and his age has gone up, Fisher has been hit with his fair share of criticism and been the subject of more than one trade ideas. However, while it would have been great to pair Kobe Bryant with another All-Star guard, there haven’t been too many other “point guards” in the NBA over the last fifteen years who fit in the triangle offense better than Fisher.

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This past year, the 2010-11 season, was definitely Fisher’s worst of his second stint with the purple and gold. His scoring numbers (6.8 PPG) were the lowest since 1999-00, when he only started 22 games, and while there may not be a tougher player on the Lakers, he was a liability on defense at times; which is largely due to the increasing athleticism and youth of current point guards.

However, despite declining numbers and increasing age, Derek Fisher continues to be the iron man of the NBA. This past season marked the sixth straight year in which he played in all 82 games – dating back to the 2005-06 season, when he was a member of the Golden State Warriors. He has currently played in more consecutive games than any other player in the league, having stepped on the court for 495 straight contests – a true testament to his warrior spirit.

However, while Fisher has provided an invaluable presence for the Lakers in each of his 12 seasons for the Lakers, there’s no doubting that this year, he really begin to display a decline. Therefore, it’s only fair for him to receive a grade of C+. He certainly met expectations for the Lakers by being the leader, rock and poised performer that he is, but his inability to provide much consistent help on defense or offense really did overshadow everything else that he brings to the table.

Barring a lockout, he will certainly return to the Lakers for his 16th season, but as he turns 37 in August, the Lakers might find it beneficial to find a more suitable starter for next season. Fisher won’t be completely expunged from the lineup, his role will simply be reduced. And with the Lakers facing many questions heading into this unexpected early off-season, it will be for the best for them to find a starting guard who can provide assistance on the defensive end.

With each passing year, his numbers continue to decline, and the day where Fisher’s uniform will be a jacket and tie instead of a jersey and basketball shoes is nearing very quickly. He’s the quintessential leader, and his poise and warrior mentality and have helped him remain as an effective player for so many years.

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