Reputation and Performance: Rating Derek Fisher

The NBA is all about reputation.

For example, despite the fact that LeBron’s teammates are so bad that not one of them would crack the Lakers, Magics or Celtics’ starting fives (unless Mo Williams played with enough confidence to replace Fisher), the storyline becomes how LeBron "couldn’t get it done" because he's not as great as we thought.

Or imagine if instead of Pau Gasol chucking Kendrick Perkins out of bounds in the final minutes of a decided Finals Game Two, the players were reversed; wouldn't you expected a flagrant foul to be called on Perkins?

Pau can get away with a blatant shove because he’s a “soft” Euro. LeBron, despite already having four playoff buzzer-beaters to his credit, still isn’t a “closer.”

And somehow, everyone has talked themselves into thinking Derek Fisher is good. But he is kind of good, isn’t he? I mean, he's won a bunch of rings, right?

How do we rate a player who seems to have such an impact in some games, and yet we know empirically can’t be that good?

Going into the playoffs, the big story was how Derek Fisher was the one weak point of the Lakers (7.5pts, 2.5ast, 39%FGs). Now, because the Lakers have advanced to the Finals for the third straight year, the story has changed to how Fisher has “held his own” and even prevailed against the three excellent guards he’s faced thus far.

Some people think that because of Fisher’s standing in the league—he’s the head of the NBA Players Association and reportedly has an enormous dong—he is given the benefit of the doubt on everything from flops, to dirty fouls.

When we look at the numbers, at least offensively, Fisher has stepped his game up. He’s connecting on a higher percentage of his shots and shooting more often (scoring three points per game more on 1.5 extra ...

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