Believe it or not, getting the first win of the season isn’t the most important thing for the Charlotte Hornets going into game number 4, this time facing the Chicago Bulls, a team they dominated in the preseason meet. It’s about playing the kind of basketball they envisioned when they built this team, and that can only be achieved by making Jeremy Lin the main playmaker on the floor, and someone who gets 30 minutes or more each night.
Lin had a bad game in the 94-92 loss to the Atlanta Hawks. It happened, and when the bottom line is all that matters, no one looks at why this happened: Was is Lin taking bad shots? Simply having a bad offensive performance? Or does it have to do with the lineups Clifford uses, the minutes he puts Lin in and the kind of basketball other players are dragging this team into playing?
There’s never one answer, and although we’re not completely objective on this site, it can’t be all about Lin being perfect and everyone else at fault. Lin had some shots he needed to make which he didn’t this time, maybe looking a bit too much for long range jumpers instead of working his way into the paint, where he usually does a very good job of opening up things for everyone else. But there’s Kemba Walker he isn’t playing enough next to and not playing the right way next to (more on Walker than him), and there’s a softness that’s been creeping up on this team that wasn’t there in the preseason.
The Hornets made an emphasis on spacing, ball movement and shooting as they tried figuring out what didn’t work last season. While Michael Kidd-Gilchrist gone due to injury doesn’t help, he doesn’t play a factor on the offensive end. His jump shot his horrendous. He’s a poor man’s Gerald Wallace at this point, with the risky basketball and the inability to get any defender to bite on his fakes, because they know he probably won’t make it.
All that emphasis, so little production. The pick and roll should have been a big part of turning into a more efficient offensive team. However, with guys like Spencer Hawes looking completely lost on the floor and Al Jefferson, who is the team’s best finisher near the rim and one of the few players defenders have a hard time handling, not giving his all into things that aren’t shooting the ball. The Warriors, for example, are an offensive machine. But it’s not just talent. It’s doing things like strong screens, not holding on to the ball too much and basically making right decisions and following a certain game plan. The Hornets aren’t as talented, but they’re not making up for it with the more basic things either.
If the Hornets brought Lin over to change the way this team plays offense, with the help of Nicolas Batum, then give him the opportunity to show what he can do. Starter or not, give him over 30 minutes on the floor, and start telling Walker that this isn’t his solo show he’s running. You’ll never know if you don’t try, and the Hornets look terrible as they’re trying to avoid to more logical option.