The final game of the calendar year for the Charlotte Hornets is another opportunity for them to try and break the mold and move towards becoming a better team, which means less Kemba Walker hero ball (even if it works from time to time) and more towards actual team basketball they envisioned when this season began, which is where Jeremy Lin comes in.
With Lin favoring his ankle, maybe he won’t even play, or will play on minute restrictions. The Los Angeles Clippers, the team the Hornets are facing on their 2015 finale, will be missing Blake Griffin. This means even more for Chris Paul. While Walker will probably be the one guarding Paul most of the time, Lin defending against that backcourt with a hurting ankle is going to be difficult, although with his defensive performances this season, it won’t be surprising to see him do well.
The Hornets are putting Lin more on the floor, getting 32.7 minutes a game (including one 47-minute outing) over the last eight. The Hornets, even with the return of Al Jefferson (which is supposed to eat into the minutes of everyone), have realized how vital it is to give Lin as many minutes as possible. Right now it isn’t translating to the amount of possessions led by him as the ideal situation would demand, but unlike his second year in Houston and last season with the Lakers, he’s in a good situation, on a team that doesn’t seem to be doing everything possible to keep him out of the loop.
We’re still seeing too many possessions of Lin standing in the corner while Walker does his thing, for better or worse. Having someone who can win games on his own and dominate when he’s hot by going one on one and thrive through isolations is good, but it’s just a tool. It shouldn’t be what an offense is built on, it shouldn’t be the first and second offensive option for a team. The Hornets made moves this offseason to move away from that kind of basketball. One, two or even three impressive scoring performances from Walker shouldn’t change that.
It’s been an interesting, strange and mostly up & down 2015 for Lin. In his and the Hornets final game of 2015, we’re hopefully going to see something more consistent. The right kind of minutes, rest and especially involvement from a player who elevates the Hornets to a certain level no other player on this team can, yet he still remains sometimes ostracized from the main action because it feels like the Hornets, at every level, are infatuated with Walker dribbling, shooting and not doing anything else.