It might be the fact that Michael Jordan was talking to a Chinese media outlet that made him say that Jeremy Lin is the most important acquisition the Charlotte Hornets made this offseason, but it probably would be true even without the parameter of who he was talking to.
The Hornets are almost a brand new team this season. Key players like Kemba Walker, Al Jefferson and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (who probably won’t play at all because of an injury) stayed, but around them everything changed. The debacle of counting on Lance Stephenson to take them to the next level changed the direction the Hornets were going in, or simply seeing how the NBA is changing in term of its offensive basketball and way of choosing players dripped dropped into the Hornets decision making as well.
Lin is one of the new guys on the block. He’s also completely different than anything the Hornets had last season. As Jordan said: We just got Jeremy Lin, who I think is going to be our biggest acquisition. His penetration, his shooting capability, his point guard savvy, he can really pass the basketball, his energy about the game of basketball something.
The Hornets are a team that played without someone who knows how to create chances for others last season. They played without a serious outside threat. They played very narrow basketball, with talent and athleticism but without the right direction or surprise factor offensively to make them a team that’s difficult to contend with in the long run. Lin is the biggest change in that aspect. A point guard who creates for others and himself, has excellent court vision and is an improving outside shooter. Just where to fit him in is the question.
All the previous thoughts and plans don’t matter. Not from the moment MKG went down with the injury, and made the Hornets re-shuffle the deck. Nicolas Batum, coming off a terrible year in pretty much every aspect, was supposed to be the shooting guard in the new look Hornets. Now he’ll probably take the small forward position, which best suits him, but that leaves a bigger question as to the second guard position and the rotation overall.
It won’t be surprising to see Jeremy Lamb getting the spot. The narrative about Lamb suggests he was underused or mistreated by Scott Brooks while playing for the Oklahoma City Thunder. He and Walker were also teammates at UConn, winning the NCAA championship together. He also won’t get in the way of Walker when it comes to basing his dominance and role as the main playmaker for the team. Something that keeps popping up in the history of Jeremy Lin in this league.
Being the sixth player isn’t such a bad spot to be as long as you get a lot of minutes in the fourth quarter. A lot of teams move to three-guard looks in crunch time, and if Lin, who usually plays very well when given the chance and the ball in his hands during fourth quarters, finds himself in that role it won’t be the end of the world, even if those rooting for him would love to see him in the starting lineup next to Walker or whatever plan Steve Clifford comes up with.
Batum was the high profile signing for the Hornets, but Lin is the real game changer. Because while it might be difficult fitting him in at times without “insulting” Walker, he’s the best playmaker the Hornets have. A point guard who can score and pass in a number of ways, who electrifies fans not to mention the huge traveling band of fans that pop up wherever he plays, and simply put a player the Hornets didn’t have before, and hopefully will know how to take advantage of.