So much uncertainty looms the Lakers’ backcourt.
Kobe Bryant isn’t fretting, but even he doesn’t know when he will fully heal his left Achilles tendon. Steve Nash appears finally healthy, but he’s still finding his rhythm after playing two preseason games. Jordan Farmar seems promising, but a strained right calf has kept him sidelined for the past two preseason games and likely Thursday when the Lakers play the Sacramento Kings in Las Vegas.
Through three exhibition games, Blake has become the living embodiment of Mike D’Antoni’s adage that the “ball finds energy.” Blake scored 16 points in the Lakers preseason win Tuesday over the Denver Nuggets in Ontario because his aggressiveness found him open looks. He’s averaged 4.33 assists in the preseason because his uncanny court vision and crafty passing gives his teammates easy looks. He appears to thrive under the Lakers’ offense simply because he enjoys it.
“It’s a comfortable system for a point guard that likes to create for people,” Blake said. “Obviously I’ve always loved to play pass-first. This system lends itself to be successful if you play that way. I’ve enjoyed it and I continue to grow.”
Such growth will come in handy for a Lakers backcourt in need to having a player capable of multiple positions. That explains why D’Antoni hesitated naming Blake the definitive backup point guard ahead of Farmar.
Instead, D’Antoni wants to keep an open mind of the seemingly endless possibilities. Blake could play at shooting guard if Bryant stays hurt. Blake could play at point guard if Nash needs some rest. Blake could play both positions if D’Antoni wants to pair him with Farmar so the team can exploit its athleticism.
That’s why D’Antoni has always lauded Blake as a perfect candidate for his system. From afar, D’Antoni always asked his teams in Phoenix and New York to pursue Blake after serving various stints in Washington (2003-05, Portland (2005-06, 2007-2010), Milwaukee (2006-7), Denver (2007), the Clippers (2010) and the Lakers (2010-present).
“He’s good. He’s been overlooked for years,” D’Antoni said. “I don’t know overlooked because everyone I know everyone has always tried to get him. But he’s been on a lot of teams and things haven’t quite worked where he stayed on one team, but he could’ve. He’s that good. He’s one of the better players in the league, without a doubt.”
And one that will come in handy as the Lakers seek clarity with the rest of their backcourt.
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org