By Marcus Thompson II, CONTRA COSTA TIMES
October 13, 2005
HONOLULU - This is not Derek Fisher's dream role.
This is not what drove him to basketball greatness on the playgrounds of Little Rock, Ark. This is definitely not what he envisioned when he left the Los Angeles Lakers and signed a six-year, $37 million free-agent contract with the Warriors before last season.
But Fisher is a professional. So, he's taking this backup point guard job and running with it -- literally.
"Last season, I expected a bigger role and wanted a bigger role based on the personnel," Fisher said after Tuesday night's 101-93 loss to the Lakers. "Now I started the season obviously knowing, with Baron (Davis) and Jason (Richardson) at the guard positions, there's not an opportunity in terms of being a starter or even probably playing big minutes. So for me it's just doing what I have to do when I get in there."
In training camp scrimmages and in Tuesday's game, Fisher has taken an aggressive offensive approach. He's attacking the basket, looking for his shot, driving and kicking. He's been using his efficiency as a ball-handler, aided by his low dribble, to beat his man and weave through defenders.
Fisher's deft shooting touch makes him a threat for the pull-up jumper, and he often goes glass from the left wing. But this year, he's displayed a doggedness to get to the basket, using his strength to create contact and get off his shot in the paint. He took eight free throws, making six, in 20 minutes Tuesday. Combined with Davis, Warriors point guards were 16-for-19 from the line in 44 minutes.
Fisher, one of the only Warriors reserves who can create his own shot, said there is an offensive void among the subs. Because there is no featured player off the bench and because the reserves usually are trying to get a feel for the game, he said, the second-stringers have a tendency to play on their heels.
But Fisher is a professional. And professionals always have a plan.
"So, what I'm really going to try to do this year is be aggressive when I'm out there, try and create some opportunities for myself," said Fisher, entering his 10th season. "But really, like I tried to do tonight, (I want to) break the defense down, get into the middle of the lane (and) kick it out to my guys that I know can make shots. ... So I'm probably going to be a more traditional point guard in terms of making plays, but my level of aggressiveness is not going to slack at all."
Fisher's biggest contribution might come at shooting guard, as it did last year. The Warriors turned their season around when they went to a small lineup, starting Fisher in a three-guard set with Speedy Claxton and Richardson and moving Mike Dunleavy to power forward.
Even after Davis was acquired Feb. 24 in a trade involving Claxton, the Warriors' most effective lineup was the three-guard set. Fisher often was called on down the stretch for his experience, defense and stroke.
He said he looks forward to those crunch-time opportunities but realizes they might be limited. The emergence of swingman Mickael Pietrus and the need to have forward Troy Murphy and center Adonal Foyle on the floor, preventing the Warriors from going small, might cut into Fisher's late-game minutes. He might have to sit and watch the conclusion of more games then he's ever had to in his first nine years.
But he can handle it because ...
"I'm a professional, enough to know and understand the circumstances," Fisher said. "It's not going to affect my ability to perform as well as I can or still help this team. I'm sure there'll be situations where minutes will be big, and I'll get the chance to do some good things. But most nights I'm just going to have to fill in where needed, and hopefully I can do that."
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