Heading into their first playoff series together in what might be a long and fruitful backcourt relationship, one of the important things to remember about the combination of Jeremy Lin and James Harden it’s that it isn’t a competition, and that the way to postseason and franchise success goes through finding the right way to make the most of them both, instead of just putting them both on the floor and sees who comes out leading the team.
In the long run, this isn’t the only thing that is going to define this team. The Rockets have plenty of cap-space heading into the summer, and might try and make a move for Josh Smith or Dwight Howard which will change the power balance in the team very quickly, and take the dominance a little bit out of the guards’ position, which might be better for Lin, as the team will be needing more of an actual point guard to run the team’s offense more often than not.
Maybe the Rockets are waiting for 2014 to be their big opportunity, hoping that LeBron James actually decides to bolt on the Miami heat and try something new with a young, rising team. We can’t forget about Chandler Parsons becoming a more and more dominant player, but he can’t do much with the ball in his hands except for hit open shots and improve defensively and his ability to crash the boards on offense. For now – James Harden is the team’s best player, but Jeremy Lin is what can make the difference between a short and long, possibly upsetting series with the Thunder.
Because having a star player who takes the game on himself isn’t something new. Harden might be one of the better individual scorers in the NBA, averaging 25.9 points per game this season, but having one player with four guys waiting for him to share the ball isn’t the most original concept the league has ever seen, and definitely not the right way to make the most out of this team. Kevin McHale just handing Harden the reins to do whatever he wants on the court won’t bring them beyond one win in the best-of-seven series against Oklahoma City, maybe giving his revenge factor a chance to win again.
But having to ball handlers on the floor for more than 30 minutes a game isn’t something a lot of teams have. It helps them control the pace of the game more easily, making you forget about how bad their defense can be when the scoring isn’t as effective as it can be. Lin doesn’t have the upper body strength Harden does that gets his so many times to the line, but he can create the same havoc driving to the basket, creating the same open shots, only he looks for them a lot more.
The NBA is a superstar league and even though Lin is the more popular player in the global sense of the world, there’s no doubt that James Harden is the better player, the offensive star on this team. The Rockets invested a lot of money in Harden, making the right gamble in bringing him over from the Thunder to change the fate of the franchise quicker than some thought it would take.
Lin has these stretches in which he isn’t just the same guy he was for a couple of weeks in New York that stirred up a huge sensation. He’s a better player than he was with the Knicks, only he doesn’t get enough opportunities to show it. With an unintelligent head coach who isn’t really creative with his play-calling, it might be up to the players themselves and make that change. It seems that everyone knows it – the Rockets are better when it’s a lot more of a equal relationship instead of one obvious superior player to the other. Maybe they need to make it happen on their own.