Every time Jeremy Lin will be in the lineup with the main players for the Los Angeles Lakers, offensively the team will look much better than with Kobe Bryant or Steve Nash dominating the ball handling. As for defense? That’s a team-wide problem, not just a player-specific problem, as shown in the 120-105 loss to the Golden State Warriors.
Steve Nash got himself a rest so Lin started in the lineup for the Lakers, and was very aggressive when it came to his scoring, finishing with 14 points and 4 assists on 4-of-4 from the field, including one 3-pointer. With a lineup that includes Jordan Hill and Wesley Johnson, you’re going to see the guards taking a lot more on themselves. It’s still too early to decide what’s the better (or less worse) combination defensively, but Lin’s involvement with the second unit usually makes for a quicker, more fun to watch offensive team.
The Warriors ran away with the game early on, with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, who didn’t get a lot of rest this summer because of their international commitments, combined to score 45 points on 15-of-22 from the field, including 8-of-10 from beyond the arc. The best backcourt in the NBA, probably, which didn’t have a problem showing the talent and outside shooting accuracy against the Lakers defense, which once again will be their achilles heel this season.
Kobe Bryant added 14 points, getting to the line quite easily and taking 11 shots. Carlos Boozer led the team with 16 points but on only 6-of-14 from the field. The Lakers had another very good performance from Julius Randle, who might actually be their best big man, finishing with 12 points and 7 rebounds, but he did shoot just a 4-of-12 from the field. Ronnie Price scored 11 points off the bench, being the point guard who enjoyed Nash’s absence the most.
The Warriors are still playing without Shaun Livingston, but did get 11 bench points from Harrison Barnes, remaining in his sixth man role. Last season it looked like being demoted due to the arrival of Andre Iguodala hurt the very talented youngster, and a big plus for Steve Kerr early on will be getting more from Barnes, who needs to become a lot more consistent offensively, even if he isn’t happy coming off the bench.
The Lakers right now are going with the experience approach, which means putting on a starting lineup that might be inferior to the backups. Both Xavier Henry and Nick Young still aren’t playing, so a lineup that includes Lin, Young, Henry, Randle and Ed Davis might not have the name-power of putting Steve Nash, Bryant and Boozer on the floor together, but it’s probably going to be more fun to watch and not inferior defensively.
Despite a solid performance from Lin, he’s not going to be a starting point guard right now. However, with Nash getting rest and his injuries quite the frequent thing these days, probably in his last NBA season, Lin will get enough starts to probably show everyone that right now he’s the better player. Hopefully for him, he makes the most of the opportunities in not just making those around him happy with his assists, but also improving his scoring numbers, which he can do if he’ll be just a little more selfish.