With Courtney Lee now available to make his debut for the Charlotte Hornets, we’ll get a much better bearing on where Jeremy Lin stands right now with the team, and how much his minute count is about to get hurt.
The arrival of Lee, along with the untouchable status of Nicolas Batum and Kemba Walker, while Jeremy Lamb has to get his minutes too, leaves Lin in a position where 25 minutes a game are the best he can wish for, and that’s if he’s having a good game. When Lin isn’t playing close to perfect on both ends of the floor? Well, we’ve mentioned the word accountability a time or two this season. Some players are allowed to make mistakes. Others aren’t.
But with Lee probably starting, and it’ll be interesting to see how he and Batum play together and what the defensive assignments will be early on, Clifford has the outside trio he likes, with two players who can cover for Walker as he makes his notorious holes on defense. Lee also stretches the floor a lot better than Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, but he isn’t as good of a defender, not as big obviously and doesn’t crash the offensive glass with the venom Kidd-Gilchrist showed before he got injured again.
And Lin? He hopes he doesn’t get lost in all of this. His role is still important. The Hornets need their second unit to perform, be it in Brooklyn or in any other situation. Walker isn’t going to be hitting shots all the time, and neither is anyone else on a consistent level when the offense is made up of isolation plays and whatever Walker leaves for the rest. There’s also the question of how involved he’ll be when it comes to playing when the game is on the line.
If there was ever a window of opportunity for Lin to become a bigger, more important player for the Hornets, it’s closed by now. As we’ve said since Clifford clearly showed what he thinks of Lin, it’s going to take an injury for him to get more minutes, and the Hornets really can’t afford any more injuries. As we’ve mention and will mention, this is an audition for the next contract, almost certainly not with the Hornets. And offense needs to happen for that contract to look a bit better than the current one (it’ll be bigger in any case, actually).
Regardless of the Hornets moving him around the place depending on injuries and messing about with his role, Lin does have to take care of business on his own, and not just on the defensive end, where he’s been fantastic this season. He needs to make shots, plain & simple. Off shooting nights happen, but if Lin doesn’t grab a hold of himself quickly in that aspect, he might soon find himself regularly playing less than 20 minutes per game. Or maybe that is out of his hands too?