Who are the 2014-2015 Los Angeles Lakers? It’s too soon to even call this a work in progress. This will obviously revolve around Kobe Bryant, but Jeremy Lin can be a vital piece of their possible success, although it does mean that Byron Scott gives him a shot at sometimes leading this team.
The definition of point guard doesn’t matter. It’s who gets to pull the strings, call the plays and have the ball in his hands that determines how this team will look. It’s been a very long time that the only player with that responsibility has been Kobe Bryant, and he doesn’t relinquish power or share the ball with others easily. We saw how well that attempt ended with Dwight Howard running as fast as possible out of Los Angeles.
Lin, obviously, isn’t Howard. He hasn’t come here to become the new face of the franchise or the future of the Lakers. He isn’t going to try and play some alpha-dog games with Kobe Bryant. He’s here to help this team but also give his career a boost, as it has been treading water since leaving the New York Knicks for the Houston Rockets. Obviously, he needs someone to trust in him the way Mike D’Antoni trusted him, maybe without having any choice, back on the East Coast.
Byron Scott has done some nice things with point guards in the past. Maybe it didn’t have a lot to do with him – maybe it was simply a case of being in the right place at the right time. Still, Scott has coached Jason Kidd, Chris Paul and Kyrie Irving. To some extent, he has a part in the players they were under him and a bit later. Scott wasn’t a point guard himself, but he probably knows a thing or two about coaching the position.
Still, the strong man in all of this is Bryant, and perhaps Mitch Kupchack. That was seen when Scott was given a contract that’s smaller in pay compared to rookie head coaches like Steve Kerr, David Blatt and Derek Fisher. This is a GM league, a superstar league. Head coaches without title rings find it difficult to make it “their” team, especially if they’re not something new and refreshing.
The Lakers have the tools to make this season better than the last. They have a point guard who can keep Steve Nash rested, and provide the same passing and improved scoring compared to Kendall Marshall last season. Lin can make Carlos Boozer look like a great power forward from time to time after almost two years without a decent point guard feeding him the ball at Chicago. Lin doesn’t need the spotlight, the pats on the back or the points. He just needs the ball in his hands to make others better.
And that’s going to be the key – making everyone play their part. For Steve Nash to be the backup point guard he is now. For Kobe Bryant to be a less ball dominant shooting guard, although that mostly depends on his ego. For Nick Young to remember this isn’t the same injury-riddled team of last season. It’s going to be a tough preseason and process once it begins. Jeremy Lin can shine through all of this, but only if he is rewarded with trust and faith from those calling the shots.