BenchMob Beat: Dear Jordan and Shannon…

… What are you boys doing these days? Your team had found some momentum this past month, the Playoffs are eight games away, and you’ve both picked NOW to stop doing what has given you and the Lakers success this season?

Coming into the game and making a difference (the good kind) — hasn’t that been the Bench Mob battle cry? Whether or not the starters are playing well, hasn’t it been your duty to enter the game and either provide a positive impact or at least pick up where the starters left off? Alongside Lamar, you two were IT for the bench rotation. Even without injuries to your fellow reserves (especially Sasha, who has been patient all season as he watched his playing time distributed between the two of you), it was the new dynamic duo of guards who got Phil’s trust to take the bulk of the non-starter minutes. And now, Phil can barely keep either of you out there before a dozen turnovers have been collected and the lead’s been lost by the wayside.

What’s going on?!

So many people have been skeptical about your potential to work together and be a factor in the team’s success this season.

Our guard play, with or without Derek in the conversation, has been a source of doubt due to your ups and downs. You have both contributed to so many notable wins, however, that it’s hard to figure how in one game against Dallas in January; you two alone contributed 35 points, 6 assists and Jordan, you had two steals and even a block, and then a few days later in Portland, put in a meager nine points.

Now this week, against a Hornets team who isn’t even eligible for the Playoffs; you allowed their bench to go off for 41 points and together you contributed 10 points and not much else.

In 20 and 16 minutes of play, respectively, 10 points and 3 assists was all that was in you to give? Darren Collison, a ROOKIE, had to fill in the huge shoes of Chris Paul for a third of the season and instead of cowering under the pressure of standing in for one of the best point guards in the league, he kept his team competitive. As a reserve against a championship bench, he scored 17 points and handed out 3 assists in 21 minutes of play.

Jordan, even with your small surge in the 4th to cut into the lead, where was everything else from your tool shed? Running plays, penetrating through the paint because you’re quick like that? Shannon, you’re missing dunks now?

In the three road games that practically every analyst predicted would be the Lakers’ demise because the team was without Kobe and Andrew; Jordan scored a cumulative 43 points and Shannon filled in for Kobe as a starter. You know what we saw in those three games? We saw that our young reserve guards (Sasha included) weren’t afraid to step up and take responsibility for their team. That the organization decided to keep the team in tact should have inspired some confidence in you to play even harder, even smarter to show that they didn’t make a mistake. Instead you seem to have developed a new strategy that has nothing to do with helping your team repeat.

Shannon, in all the time you have spent learning the offense since your arrival, you have chosen lately to dribble away the shot clock instead of making sound decisions like running a play or moving the ball. Your famous dunks will always excite your fans, but you possess more than lobs and dunks in your arsenal. You’re not a rookie anymore and you’re certainly not a new member of this team. Where’s the consistency in your shot and, more importantly, your shot selection? Where are your defensive efforts these days? Your lack of sensibility on the floor will only result in your lack of playing time.

Jordan, you played extended minutes in the fourth quarter over Derek on many nights because Phil trusted that you would finish the game properly. You learned to create and run plays for your teammates and still managed to score. It doesn’t matter that your name isn’t spoken in the same breath as Chris Paul, Deron Williams or even Aaron Brooks. None of them play on a Championship team and you are as quick and skilled as any of those point guards. However, when your shot isn’t falling, you can’t seem to figure out other ways to contribute to the game. Maybe defense isn’t your specialty, but it doesn’t mean you can’t put forth the effort (and intelligence) to bring it anyway. We saw how intently you kept your eyes and body on Deron Williams in that game against Utah where all they could muster in the 4th quarter was SIX points.

Critics can say all they want about yours and Shannon’s consistent inability to defend against quick point guards. We’ve seen you both succeed at it on rare occasions, so find a way to turn rare into the norm.

Jordan and Shannon, the playoffs are a few weeks away and your enemies are counting on the two of you to fail and they’re hoping you’ll take everyone with you. No, you’re not exclusively responsible for the team’s success or failure, but should that stop you from wanting to shoulder the load anyway? You are not expected to score 30 points or hand out a dozen assists every night, but you’re expected to do SOMETHING positive to help get the victory.

Forget the expectations of people around you. These are things you should expect from yourselves.

You have some of the most talented, supportive and hardest working teammates — learn from their examples.

You have a class act coaching staff who have all taught and encouraged you on how to play your best, despite all the critics who have dismissed you. It’s time to prove all your naysayers wrong for good. You have these final few regular season games and hopefully a long playoff run, to prove to this team that you’ve got the drive and desire for another Championship Title.

Take it from someone like your beloved teammate, Lamar Odom — individual value is most obvious when the whole of the parts is successful, not the other way around.

You don’t have a lot of time left. Don’t waste your talents and skills on short lived, individual pride. Ego is a tough master to satisfy, especially when you’re playing in a league full of it. Have the senses to leave yours outside of the arena. It’s just holding you back.

Sincerely Yours,
The Lakers Nation

Anna Gonda has been the post-game editor for LakerNation.com since the 2009-2010 season. Between post-game reports, she's a full-time advertising coordinator for an academic publisher and a part-time photographer. Favorite Lakers: Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher. Favorite Laker Moment: Game 7, 2010 Finals against the Boston Celtics.
  • MASMIK

    So what is it exactly that they're doing wrong now? I remember just a few weeks ago these guys were playing amazing… Where did all that go? Talent doesn't just disapear.

    • Anna

      Exactly! Talent doesn't just disappear. It's ego vs. effort. Too much of one and not enough of the other.

  • lakers247

    The bench has played very inconsistent this season (with the exception of Lamar Odom). Farmar's jump shooting is pissing the shit out of me. Missing wide open jumper after wide open jumper. They should've played Vujacic yesterday, at least he gives effort, sometimes too much effort. He should pass some on to Farmar.

  • questworldz

    Well written. The only consistent ones off the bench are LO and Mbenga. Everyone else seems to be stuck in, “I didn't get enough playing time so why should I play” or “I ain't get my share of the spotlight.” This team is truly falling apart due to a clash of egos. Gasol talks trash of Kobe. Everybody talks about how their health is a factor. Ron-ron is still trying to learn his role in the triangle system and is not confident in his shots as he still hesitates before taking a shot. Sasha, Luke Walton, Brown, and Farmar, I don't know what their problem is.

    Farmar wanted more playing minutes, he was flourishing in Kobe's absence but then turned to trash as soon as Kobe returned. Same goes of Brown. They both are refusing to capitalize on their natural talents. Sasha just fell off. Sasha used to be a 3 point threat, and now he can't find the 3 point shot even if the rim was a foot wider and in his face. The bench should be able to provide a good rest for the starters. This bench is nothing short of a joke minus the efforts of LO and Mbenga. Powell and Morrison are the biggest non-factors as they just plain suck. They got a ring just for keeping the seats warm. Talk about wasted height. Morrison has the potential to develop into a triple threat like nowitzki if morrison would just pull his head out of his ass and show us what he is really capable of. Powell is wasted height and strenght. Powell could easily be at the 3 or 4.

    Whatever the case is, the Lakers are in need of some deep reflection and soul searching. On a brighter note, I heard that a certain Agent Zero is available. I think he would be a most welcome addition to an otherwise lackluster bench. MITCH ARE YOU LISTENING? After the way the Wizards dissed Arenas, he would be an ass to even think about going back to the Wiz. COME ON LAKERS! PICK UP ARENAS!

  • hjkj

    let them go to free agency

  • Rich Kamins

    Jordan at best, has only flashes of a decent NBA level player. His streakiness affects his passing, ball handling, and of course his decision making processes. He seems to have decided to play the way he sees fit and doesn't look back. Shannon on the other hand looks intimidated and plays with a very big lack of confidence. He tends to slow down his processing centers holding the ball too long, and not finishing his drives. He has a wealth of athletic ability, but lacks the simple confidence to run the offense or even shoot effectively. The Lakers need to shore up their guards this summer.

  • keepon_keepinon18

    Great article. They need to play to their strengths before they try to work on their weakness when they get on the floor.

  • Tyson

    it seems like they're playing for stats now a days, i think shannon's ego is taking over his game.

  • sarahpsmith

    When Andrew starts, Lamar comes off the bench and facilitates. He understands the floor, and distributes the ball to whomever is wide open—Shannon or Jordan are the beneficiaries. Now that Andrew's owie still hurts and he doesn't have the nuts to play through the “pain”, Lamar can't help the bench. Pretty easy to see.

  • drivefor16th

    BENCH, GET UR HIIT TOGETHER AND PLAY WITH SOME HEART AND PASSION. THESE GUYS DON'T TRY AT ALL, THEY JUST RELY ON KOBE TO DO EVERYTHING AND WEAR HIM OUT. THEY WILL NOT BE HERE NEXT YEAR. THEY GOT ONE FREE RING ALREADY.

  • Felipe

    Dammmmmmmmn people finaly, someone speaks the truth. Farmar seems like he plays without energy, and point guards just run past him, not because he cant keep up, its because hes too lazy to go underneath or around the screan. Collison freaken showed him up last night. Shannon Brown is a good player, but takes bad shots, he thinks hes Kobe taking fade away shots and keeping the ball to much wasting much of the 24 second clock hes just a bit cocky u can kind of see it in his face expression. He wasent like that before, but i think his ego grew a bit or should i say ALOT.
    I say play sasha a bit more, hes a good defender, and the shots will fall, but he doesnt get enough playing time, as soon as he takes a shot and misses or does a mistake Phil takes him out. Imagine if that applyed to Kobe, Kobe wouldnt get any playing time … Cause Kobe does mistakes, but yet again HES KOBE BRYANT right!!!!!

  • thefaze

    They're playing for next year's contracts. Bench their asses and play Sasha!

  • KaNa

    Both are epic fail!

  • marvin

    thank you..thank you…i know d-fish isnt the defender he used to be, but our defense gets worse when jordan and shannon comes in…defense is what wins games!!!!!!!!

  • WINLESS

    The main problem some of these guys have is that they're playing for contracts. They're trying their best to get the most money next year and it shows. Why should they care if they win it all this year or not? They already got what most Hall of Famers don't have! A ring! In essence, they don't need another one so they're working towards securing the future of their families.

    I still think that they're the team to beat but seeing as how they don't seem to care about anything anymore but themselves, the Cavs will take it. I really hope I'm wrong and they can still turn this around MENTALLY and be ready for the playoffs. If they go in the playoffs with this flip-the-switch attitude, Denver or Dallas will come out of the west.

    I do really hope I'm wrong but that's what I see when they just sleepwalk through giveaway games that they have no business losing….just my two cents worth.

  • 151rummer

    Players that act like this are what make being a fan of professional sports so discouraging. These guys are on the best team in the league and still cant get it throught their egos that a team is only is strong as its weakest player…..I get sick and tired of seeing Jordan getting burned on a play and then looking around like its someones elses fault. Or when coaches try and talk to him about something he did wrong and he acts like hes gonna cry……SCREW him!!!!!!!!! let him go this summer and get some one that will play defense and not act like they r still a rookie and dont know what the hell is going on…all because hes upset about playing time or because he is expected to run the triangle. This guy obviously has issues w/ his ego. u change ur # to 1 from 3 cuz u think u should b the starting point guard….really jordan? Get a life!

  • Sabino

    Well put, for the last few weeks Jordan comes in the game and there usually a negative spike in points in every game.
    He is like a walking cancer stick, not doing himself a favor on a contract year.

    • lakers2000

      Better now than after we pay him (like..Sasha).

  • sasha_

    more time for sasha. we need him in the playoffs.