Playing against the Detroit Pistons while Al Jefferson is still out might be a very good opportunity for Jeremy Lin to start a streak of meaningful minutes, especially if Steve Clifford decides on going creative with the rotations he uses.
Lin played 27 minutes in the win over the Bulls which improved the Hornets, a top 10 team in both offense and defense this season per 100 possessions, most of them quite good from him, even if he didn’t fire on all cylinders. He was once again ostracized in the closing minutes not by being bench, but by being “punished” to stand in the corner and see what Kemba Walker does with the ball. It worked for Clifford and Walker this time, but the strategy isn’t one that’s going to work in the long run.
Andre Drummond is averaging 20.2 points and 16.2 rebounds per game so far this season. He might be the best center in the league right now; in an NBA that’s trying to move away from true centers, and play a different brand of basketball, that involves as many shooters as possible on the floor. The Pistons have that approach, only around Drummond. Stan Van Gundy saw it work for him in Orlando with Dwight Howard, he’s trying to do the same in Detroit, also relying on the scoring ability of Reggie Jackson (20 points per game).
The Hornets went with Cody Zeller for most of their game against the Bulls, playing 32 minutes. Frank Kaminsky, who has been very efficient in the minutes given to him, played just 11 minutes. But the Pistons might chew up the Hornets under the glass and cause a lot of defensive problems if the Hornets try going head to head with them, including a big man that does most of his work in the paint. Maybe more minutes with Kaminsky, while using Jeremy Lin and Nicolas Batum for more than usual as the two guards, could be something the Pistons struggle with?
An idea, but probably not something we’re likely to see. Walker gets off the floor only to breath some air and get back on it. He’s always part of any meaningful rotation and lineup Clifford has planned. Something works without him? He throws Walker in there and sometimes disrupts the harmony. Not that there are chemistry problems in Charlotte. It’s simply that Walker’s basketball doesn’t always fit with the idea of passing the ball and moving without it.
Clifford has his favorites, his key players, and also has guys, like Lin, who he doesn’t seem to be quite sure what to do with. The minutes go ups and down, the timing of his entrances and exits from the game keep changing, and it has nothing to do with Clifford’s feel for the game. Lin needs the 25 minutes and more each game. The Hornets usually need him to get that time too. Creating some consistency and momentum will work wonders for Lin individually and in the long run, even if they lose to Detroit, for the Hornets as well, who can be better than their 11-8 record.