On an individual level, Jeremy Lin finding a new team means something of a fresh start to his career. Not just actually playing in the right position, role and minutes for the Los Angeles Lakers, but looking like someone who is having fun on the court again, which usually means Lin at his best. His video on Instagram which includes a posterizing dunk on his mother is in line with that attitude.
What’s the connection? Jeremy Lin playing shooting guard, off the ball as a spot up shooter isn’t just hurting himself, but the team that has a coach “wise” enough to deploy such a tactic on the court. Obviously, when you’re restricted by bad decisions from those making decisions above you, it’s hard having fun on the floor.
What does fun have to do with it? A lot. While this is a job, it’s also the passion for most of these players. Maybe you lose part of that as you fall deeper and deeper into the business side of the game, but what’s the point if you aren’t enjoying playing basketball at the highest level possible? Lin usually looks like someone who is thoroughly enjoying himself, but that also calls for certain conditions to be met.
With Kobe Bryant on the team, the Lakers aren’t going to build around Lin. It’s besides the point whether or not that is the wise decisions. There’s an ideal and there’s being real. Reality dictates that as long as Bryant is wearing a Lakers jersey, this is his team, and anyone trying to change that is probably going to find himself working somewhere else very soon.
But there has to be a limit to the dictatorship. Once again putting the ball in Bryant’s hands to make every decision on the floor isn’t going to bring them very far. Bryant is more than a year since his incredible finish to the 2012-2013 season which helped push the Lakers into the playoffs. Older, with injuries that got in the way. Simply not the same player, who needs to change in order to make whatever it is he has around him work.
While Bryant can play point guard to some extent, it means someone else not getting to. Lin, Nash, it doesn’t matter. Both players need the ball in their hands to make a difference. Bryant is surely smart enough of a basketball player to realize those strengths and weaknesses. The question isn’t about his IQ, but his ego, and his ability to let go.
Lin will find out pretty soon where all of this is going. Maybe preseason will also teach us a thing or two about what kind of ideas Byron Scott has for his new team, and what’s the overall vision Mitch Kupchak is pushing for. A championship isn’t going to come out of this team, not this season. The least they can do is try to make everyone feel involved, and make this team fun to watch.