While it’s great to see Jeremy Lin show up in the starting lineup for one time this season, if it remains with the current settings, it’s not going to help him or the Charlotte Hornets.
Lin had a lukewarm performance next to Kemba Walker, Nicolas Batum, Marvin Williams and Al Jefferson in an easy, too easy win against the Philadelphia 76ers. It’s one of those games it’s hard to learn something from because of how weak their opponent was. Zach Lowe and others might be very sympathetic of Sam Hinkie and his attempt to build a champion based on sheer luck and tanking, but I think it’s bad for the team and the league. At least it has been so far.
Back to Lin, who finished with nine points in the win, but with the lowest usage ratio in the lineup. Having a player like Lin on the floor for 29 minutes and doing so little brings us back to the days of James Harden and the Rockets, with Lin standing on the corner and waiting to be noticed. Harden has a neat trick that his teammates have picked up on by now. While there isn’t a shot he doesn’t like, he’ll waste time on the shot clock and give the ball up to a teammate in an almost impossible situation to do something. But he passed, so no one can complain.
There’s no Harden on the Hornets, which is good, but there’s a head coach who seemed to be committed to a type of play or player that just isn’t going to take this team forward. Kemba Walker isn’t exactly an MVP or All-NBA caliber player. I doubt he’s going to make an All-Star game, even in the East, unless a lot of injuries occur to point guards around February. But he’s something of a franchise player in Charlotte, and the commitment to him is hurting this team when it’s all said and done.
Lin isn’t paid like a franchise player. He isn’t paid like anyone who should be playing more than 15 minutes a night. But that was his decision. Take a low pay in a situation he likes and then probably look for a new deal after one year via the player option. But while he isn’t paid like one, he is the team’s barometer on a lot of nights. The ball goes through him means faster basketball, more passing, more spacing, better looks inside and outside. Using Lin as some off-the-ball shooter, getting touches on an irregular basis and mostly positioned on the wing without any effect on the game? Doesn’t make sense.
If Hairston and Zeller are healthy, Lin is back on the bench. Maybe not just the bench, but also to 17-23 minutes a night, which is a shame. Clifford won’t keep his job without making the playoffs. For some reason, he’s trying to do the same things that made the Hornets miss the postseason a year ago instead of embracing the changes and new players he has, which includes shifting the balance of this team into more capable hands, that mean playing better basketball. Maybe at some point he’ll be fully committed to the idea, but so far he’s having a hard time accepting it.