If preseason is an indication of anything, than Kevin McHale still doesn’t know what to do about his starting point guard position, giving Patrick Beverly the start in the final game while Jeremy Lin came off the bench, although it’s quite obvious when both of them are on the floor that James Harden and Dwight Howard will benefit from Lin playing as much as possible next to the two stars.
It was one of those games (as the Rockets beat the San Antonio Spurs 109-92) that feels like Harden prefers having a block of wood playing next to him in the backcourt. He finished with 22 points and 11 assists, but with Beverley on the floor instead of Lin for 29 minutes, it meant Harden had more time of being the only point guard on the floor. He took 16 shots from the field and went 7 more times to the line. In short, even with the double double, it’s good to have an option of someone curbing that dominance once in a while. Beverley is a good player and a solid scoring option off the bench, but he’s not a player that will be able to balance this offense.
Dwight Howard had no problem scoring without having the trouble of being forced to face his fears on the free throw line. He scored 15 points and added 16 rebounds, making 70% of his field goal attempts against a very soft Spurs team that hasn’t really looked too impressive or too willing to give more than the bare minimum during the preseason stage.
Lin came off the bench to play for 23 minutes, scoring 11 points and adding 6 assists. He did finish with only 3-of-9 from the field and preseason has shown us he might have to work a bit on his shot selection, but the Rockets look more like a team and not a group of talented individuals stuck together when he’s on the floor. It might mean that James Harden doesn’t do whatever he wants because he does respect Lin and likes him playing next to him, but if the other players and especially the head coach buy into the notion that playing team basketball instead of a selfish style will be what brings them more than they achieved last season, Lin is going to be enjoying next season.
Omri Casspi continued his fantastic preseason, solidifying what just might be a very big role off the bench, coming in for Chandler Parsons or any other constellation we might see that incorporates plenty of perimeter shooting. Casspi scored 16 points, hitting 4-of-8 from beyond the arc, as the Rockets shot 34.2% from that range on 38 attempts, which is probably something we’ll see quite a lot from this team next season.
This is still James Harden’s show, no one is trying to take it away from him. He is going to see more shots than Dwight Howard because he controls the offense more often than not. However, in order to balance it out and for the Rockets to play some less one-on-one, simplistic basketball, Jeremy Lin is going to need a bigger role than simply being the guy who gels the second unit. He’s better than that, and deserves more.