Youngsters get chance with Lakers
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Jordan Farmar can relate to what Javaris Crittenton has been going through over the past week.
A year ago, Farmar was a teenage rookie with the Los Angeles Lakers fresh off of his sophomore season at UCLA. Now it's Crittenton's turn to endure the growing pains in his first training camp.
"Every player who comes in your rookie year you have to go through this," said Crittenton, who left Georgia Tech after his freshman season. "I just learn from the vets and the older players just to be patient and keep working hard."
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DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Javaris Crittenton and Jordan Farmar have been the last to leave practice this week.
Just about 12 months ago, Javaris Crittenton was preparing for a relatively smooth transition from high school to college basketball.
The next step figures to be a bit steeper.
"My year in college I didn't really feel like a freshman," the Los Angeles Lakers rookie said of his lone season at Georgia Tech. "Now this is a whole new adjustment. These are grown men, this is the NBA. I feel like the rookie that I am. I am here to work hard and earn the trust of my teammates and the coaching staff."
Jordan Farmar knows all about making that climb.
At about the same time Crittenton was entering his freshman year with the Yellow Jackets, it was Farmar in the role of the teenage rookie soaking in the guidance of the Lakers veterans in his first training camp. Now he's the one dishing out advice to the newcomer.
"I told him coming in it's not going to be the way you're used to," Farmar said. "The best way to get through it is just to accept it and continue to learn. If you try to fight it you're just going to frustrate yourself."
The Lakers invested first-round draft picks in Farmar and Crittenton the last two years, and the duo represents the future of the point guard spot for the Lakers.
The young guards figure to see ample playing time this week when the Lakers open their preseason schedule with exhibition games tonight and Thursday against the Golden State Warriors at the Stan Sheriff Center.
Farmar made his jump to the NBA following his sophomore season at UCLA and ended his rookie year as the starter at the point as the Lakers made a quick exit from the playoffs. Since then, the Lakers signed veteran Derek Fisher to provide leadership and stability alongside Kobe Bryant in the backcourt and drafted Crittenton after his freshman year at Georgia Tech.
"This year (Coach Phil Jackson's) going to put me back to having to earn it and work hard and continue to get better and I respect that," Farmar said. "I'm trying to push Derek, help Javaris, and I think we all push each other."
Though he doesn't turn 21 until next month, Farmar already feels the value of a year of experience.
"I'm not so much worried about what the coaches think, not trying to impress anybody, I'm just trying to play," Farmar said.
"Last year it was, 'I gotta make this shot, I gotta show them I can play.' Now I'm just playing basketball. You're going to miss, you're going to make mistakes, as long as you play hard and try to make the right decisions good things will happen. I'm a lot more mature in terms of my approach to the game and comfortable with myself as a player."
Crittenton began that process with the start of training camp last week, though he didn't expect his introduction to happen in Hawaii.
The advent of a rule keeping high school players out of the NBA Draft led Crittenton to enroll at Georgia Tech, where he averaged 14.4 points and 5.8 assists as a freshman. He left after a season and was looking ahead to starting his career relatively close to his Atlanta home, until draft day took an unexpected twist with the Lakers selecting him with the 19th pick.
"I'd just gotten a call from Miami saying they were going to take me at 20," he said. "I hadn't heard anything from the Lakers. I wasn't even expecting it, I was just waiting for Miami to roll around. I was shocked, but I was happy."
The pick meant making a second trip to Hawaii in less than a year. He played in the EA Sports Maui Invitational last year, leading the Yellow Jackets to the title game, where they lost to UCLA.
Now it's back to being the new guy on the roster, trying to pick up pointers from the Lakers' seasoned stars.
"I learn a lot from them. Kobe's very helpful on defense and little things that he sees," Crittenton said. "I appreciate a player like him coming to help me and pointing out small things to help me with the offense or anything, really."