You saw it on April 15, in a prime-time Sunday-afternoon game against Portland. When Derek Fisher has his jumper falling, the Lakers become the Western Conference favorites they were projected to be at the season's start.
Against the Trail Blazers that day, Fisher hit on 4-of-6 3-point shots, including two late in the fourth quarter. He scored 21 points, and the Lakers won by five.
As the team's best floor leader, Fisher is the key to quelling the Kobe-Shaq ball-distribution drama. When the offense is run through Shaq and Fisher is hitting from the perimeter, the floor opens for Kobe to create. Shaq gets his touches, Kobe gets his shots, and Fisher is the safety valve. Everyone's happy.
The fifth-year player from Arkansas-Little Rock is also the only Lakers point guard who can drive to the basket in the half-court set, which sets the big man up for offensive rebounds and dunks.
Fisher is L.A.'s best on-the-ball defender, but he is susceptible to being posted up by bigger guards, such as Steve Smith or Rod Strickland. If the Lakers are going to beat the Spurs and return to the Finals, Fisher will have to outplay Derek Anderson on both ends of the floor.
-- CNNSI.com's Mark Button