With Jeremy Lin out for a couple of weeks, the Houston Rockets are once again completely the James Harden show. Whether that’s good or not is up for the record during that time to decide, but in terms of the quality of basketball the team plays, it’s awful. Why? Because one against five style doesn’t work in the long run, simple. The thing Lin should be keeping a watch on more than anything is Patrick Beverley.
Harden isn’t going to really change. He did put on a much more balanced performance in the win over the San Antonio Spurs, but that was when Chandler Parsons played. Without the forward, the Rockets have no one that can take the ball away from Harden and make some good, team-first kind of decisions. Dwight Howard wants the ball, but he’s usually a last stop before a foul or a close range field goal.
With Jeremy Lin on the floor, Harden does have an option of letting the reigns go and letting someone else run the show. With Beverley? Just another player for Harden to ignore as he dribbles down the clock and does what he wants. Without Lin and Parsons, that’s actually not such a bad idea, because Beverley, elevated to a starting spot by Kevin McHale this season for some weird reason, is contributing absolutely nothing. He is averaging 9.4 points per game, while shooting 40.4% from the field, but he’s even less useful than that.
However, McHale is waiting for a sign that Lin’s minutes can be cut. This isn’t some grand conspiracy theory of Morey and McHale conspiring to end Lin’s career. It’s simply something that easy to spot through the 100 or so games the Rockets have played since Harden and Lin joined the team in the same offseason. Lin might be great for jersey sales, but he’s also something of a distraction and an outlet that hurts Harden’s dominance in the backcourt. He’s also someone who can help the team play better basketball than what we see from them on most nights.
It’s hard to believe Lin is wishing for the Rockets to lose so that his return and contribution is that much more appreciated than usual, but if Beverley suddenly turns into a point guard that knows what to do with the ball except drive to the basket from time to time between giving it up for Harden, Lin is going to be in trouble. His benching and becoming a sixth man wasn’t only about giving the second unit a playmaker. It was about defining boundaries and setting a hierarchy. Too bad that even if Harden goes ballistic over the next few games and puts on some monster games leading to victories (which is something he can do), the long run goal, which is the most important thing, will take a hit, as McHale or whoever makes the decisions will actually think that this one on one basketball is the way to bring success back to Houston.