Charlotte Hornets – Jeremy Lin Needs the Steve Clifford Thing to Work

Jeremy Lin, Steve Clifford

A lot changes to the Charlotte Hornets this offseason. One of them, maybe the biggest, is the signing of Jeremy Lin. It’s important for him to click with Steve Clifford and the rest of the guys so he can re-ignite the momentum of a career that has slightly lost direction over the last two years, just as it’s important for the Hornets to change the way they want to through him.

Clifford has had a busy summer, with visits to Las Vegas, California, Seattle and California again. Checking in on old and new players, and it’s not over for him. The preseason for the Hornets includes a week-long visit to China including exhibition games. But he also had time to stop in Charlotte and answer some questions.

The interesting part of the Q&A for those who are interested in the Jeremy Lin angle of the story was him going over what he feels will be the advantage of playing both him and Kemba Walker on the floor together.

It’s always good to have two pick-and-roll players on the floor. That way you can put pressure on the defense at one side, then switch it to the other. That makes more room to play similar to how Golden State does. You’ve got Steph (Curry) on one side, so defenses have to load up there, and then you’ve got Klay Thompson on the other with room to operate. That’s what Kemba can do for Jeremy and Jeremy can do for Kemba.

But it’s going to be more than just the pick & rolls and dual side threats. Clifford also talked about the team getting better at shooting and passing the ball, two big problems for them last season (and also in 2013-2014, although it didn’t stop them from making the playoffs). Lin isn’t the only one who is new to the team and brought over to take care of that, but he’s best suited to solve that problem.

Lin isn’t Kyle Korver and isn’t going to shoot 45% from beyond the arc, but he’s not that kind of player. He’s getting better and just below 37% last season and there’s no reason he can’t improve that by a few decimal points. He offers more of a ‘stretch the floor’ option than Walker that’s for sure, but he can attack the basket and split a defense just as well.

The bonus comes from Lin’s passing. Forget about assist averages. It’s about looking for the pass and seeing other players. Lin is excellent at that, although he does sometimes take some risks he shouldn’t. The Hornets didn’t have that last season, but if Lin gets plenty of time on the floor (we’re hoping for above 30, but 25-30 including crunch time is a good start) they’ll be greatly upgraded along with the addition of Nicolas Batum who is going to be moved around quite a lot according to Clifford.

This is a semi-new team, with anchors in Al Jefferson (hopefully slimmer), Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist with his new contract, while Lin, Batum and also rookie Frank Kaminski join in to contribute right away. It should also be a better team, with more options and variety on offense, that will make the playoffs if they can keep their defensive identity despite the changes.

For the full Q&A with Clifford

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