The Charlotte Hornets will try to shake off two consecutive losses as they begin a four game homestand. A little tip? Play Jeremy Lin as much as possible. Give him the ball instead of Kemba Walker. It’s not guaranteed, but it passes every test known to man, using analytics or simply going by the good old-fashioned eye test.
The Hornets have an opportunity to do very well before the year turns into 2016. They’re playing four consecutive home games, all of them with rest between them. The Celtics on December 23 (tonight) in hope to avenge that weird loss from December 12, in which the Hornets were slightly complacent because of that Memphis but mostly screwed by the officials. That comes with three days of rest before playing the same Memphis Grizzlies on December 26, two days before what should be special for Lin – the Los Angeles Lakers and the calendar years ends for them on December 30, also at home, playing against the inconsistent yet talented Los Angeles Clippers.
Not being involved in the Christmas schedule always gives a sense that the team is on a very long break. So many games coming one after another on the same night help build up that feeling, not to mention the day off on Christmas Eve. It feels as if teams not playing on December 25, teams the league doesn’t deem good enough to draw in big ratings, have an opportunity to lay it all on the court before at least three days of vacation.
There’s never a question about Lin’s effort. It’s always about whether or not the coaching staff will do the right job and play him enough minutes. And that’s the thing about Lin. It’s quite clear, in my opinion, that the Hornets are the right fit for him in terms of players and the general direction of the organization. However, it does feel as if out of the team’s key players, he’s the only one whose minutes are based on Clifford hunches and (lack of) feel for the game. Mistakes from him result in benchings. Maybe we’re seeing something change in that sense, but for all the good he’s mostly done when he had the opportunity, it’s impossible to shake off the feeling the Hornets are using him in the wrong way, or simply not enough.
Walker isn’t a franchise player. Maybe he wants to be. Maybe the Hornets want him to be. But in the end, he’s just a scoring guard with plenty of issues, including obscene ones on defense which have a lot to do with effort after two or three times in which he gets torched by a ball handler. However, Walker never gets time off to think about what he’s done. Be it a string of misses, be it bad defense, be it falling into his old habits of selfish play. He’s almost untouchable, and when an above average scorer but very limited one gets that kind of treatment from a head coach/front office, it can’t be good for a team.
Once again, we’re always trying to understand if there are indications the Lin status is changing. While almost every player on this roster knows pretty much where he plays and how much he’s going to be on the floor for, it’s always a toss up with Lin. Last game foul trouble ruined the plans for Clifford, but going with the Walker handling the ball, Lin standing on the corner routine hurt them more in the end. At some point, you assume professional NBA people see what’s going on, but at this point, even if Lin has another huge night or two in the next nine days, it means nothing about his position in the team hierarchy, which is fluid as ever, even if he’s proven he should be above Walker almost every time.