Linharden: The Scariest Back Court Baller in the NBA

Lin’s name goes well with pretty much anything. So, of course, “Linharden” is a natural fit. Doesn’t it just sound like a surname? It could, perhaps, even be the name of some bad-ass baller, an Asian dude with a James Harden beard that you don’t want to f#@k with on the back court. How many of these will we see walking around Houston this Halloween? If you want to go one step further, let me introduce you to Parsons Asik Linharden (PAL for short): the smartest, most eccentric NBA player, who’s sponsored by United Colors of Benetton.

With the addition of Harden, Rocket’s starting unit just got more interesting. I mean, you got a white European dude, an Asian American dude, a white all-American dude (I’m sure that’s pretty racist, but it just sounds better than “white American”, also Parsons does have that “all-American” vibe whatever that means) and an African American dude who looks pretty bad ass. This is as diverse of a core group as you’re gonna get in the NBA. Sure, Martin was also black, but at the risk of sounding totally racist, he’s not black like James Harden is black.

As diverse as these guys are racially, what’s striking is how much they have in common. All these guys are put in a position where they are playing bigger roles than expected of them or than they had previously assumed:

  • Asik from bench to starter.
  • Lin from not the face of the Franchise to the face of the Franchise (that is, before Harden arrived).
  • Harden from third best player on the team to best player on the team with superstar aspirations.
  • Parsons from rookie to locker room leader.

I think this is bodes well for the Rockets organization, because they’ll scratch and claw to prove themselves. Every game, every possession, perhaps, would mean more to them than their opponents. They might not be as talented as the other guys, but they’ll overwork their opponents, because they need to earn the lofty positions that they’ve assumed. I think this counts for a lot and it’s something analysts overlook. This is why I think they’ve got a great shot at doing some serious damage in the NBA this season. We’re talking playoffs for sure in my view. I know I’m probably pretty alone in this belief, but the hell with it.

PAL is very young. Although Harden is already pretty accomplished. I mean, dude’s got a Gold Medal! He’s actually the youngest of this quad. Despite Morey’s track record of getting rid of players as soon as he gets them, I think this core group will stay together for the long haul. Harden has already planned on signing a long-term contract and both Asik and Lin are already locked in. I think Morey’s reputation for moving NBA assets with regularity has more to do with his situation than anything else: the Rockets have been a team in limbo since his tenor, so they need to constantly maneuver to get all the proper pieces or, in the case of this off-season, a demolition was required. I think Morey and company are pretty happy with the key pieces they have now so these piece will stay. This being said, Morey is still not done. Even with the acquisition of Harden, Rockets still have room for another max guy. So I’m sure we’ll see some more maneuvering this season. But PAL is staying put. Anyway, I’m getting sidetracked. the point I was trying to make is that PAL is very young and will only get better. Other teams should be very scared in a couple of years. PAL will have time to develop and grow together and that’s when things will really get interesting in Houston–especially if they add another missing piece (e.g., a star Power Forward). Personally, I think they’re good the way they are from a starting-unit standpoint, because a guy like Terrence Jones can really develop to be that key Power Forward they need to become a great team. To me having a team of very good players with great chemistry is way better than having a team with a bunch of big names that have okay chemistry.

PAL is very intelligent. Parsons, Asik, Lin and Harden all have very high basketball IQs. I’m not going to say that they’re the smartest starting unit in the NBA, but they’re definitely up there if we’re just talking guys who have a good understanding of the game and can make smart decisions on the court. It’s not easy to talk about basketball IQ, because it doesn’t necessarily show up in stats. It’s how you position yourself on the court in relation to your opponent. It’s how you read the defense and situations to take advantage. It’s a lot of little things that make a big difference. Shane Battier, is perhaps the poster child for basketball IQ. His stats might not be anything to brag about, but boy does he help teams win games with all the little things he does. To me, Chandler Parsons plays a lot like Shane Battier. I think PAL’s high basketball IQ will allow them to develop great chemistry, because they’ll have a deep understanding of each other’s strengths and weaknesses. This chemistry will only become stronger over time as they go through more and more battles together.

Okay, lets move away from PAL and talk about Linharden for a bit. The worst case scenario is that Lin continues to struggle and Harden essentially takes over the ball-handling role as Lin’s teammates look him off on a regular basis. As a result, the potential synergy that is Linharden will be nullified.

The scenario that I’m hoping for is that Linharden will be a nightmare for teams, because you got two guys who could get to the paint with ease and can score the ball pretty much anywhere on the floor (Harden more so than Lin). It’ll be very difficult for teams to game plan for both guys, since they’re both willing passers. Harden likes to go left and Lin likes to go right, so Harden compensates one of Lin’s biggest weaknesses. The threat that Linharden poses really opens up the floor for potential easy baskets. I’m not going to say they’re the most talented or the best back court–we’ll see how they develop in a few years. But Linharden should definitely be formidable from day one. Well, not literally, because it’ll take some time for the guys to develop chemistry, so by “day one” I mean this season.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait for the season opener. Things might get pretty sloppy, but it’ll be fun to see Linharden.

About JLintel

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  • cary washington

    Great post. Aren’t you a bit concerned about Lin’s role though? I never saw Mchale as excited as he was yesterday, when talking about Harden. I have this feeling, they will do whatever it takes to run the ball through Harden and make him the primary ball hander (why not? he’s the max guy), thus minimizing Lin’s role.

    Rumblings in other fan forums have already begun, “Rockets are going to regret signing Lin bc Harden needs to be the primary ball handler.”, “Lin’s role is going to be minimized.”, “Lin isn’t needed because Harden is basically going to be the PG/playmaker of the team.”, “Where’s the need for Lin if Harden can play the 1 and runs the pick and roll better than Lin?”.

    I have my reservations about the Rockets. Now I understand Martin’s criticism aimed at management. Lin gets a lot of hate for his average, pg contract; I don’t think Mchale is very high on Lin either. I don’t see him lasting 3 years in Houston…and i’m as big of a Lin fan as you’ll ever meet.

    • Thanks! Yes, I think your concerns are valid and that would be the worst case scenario that I highlighted in my post–especially if Lin continues to struggle to score the ball. But I don’t think this is likely.

      McHale is rightfully ecstatic, because he finally has a guy who he has confidence can perform at a high level and is essentially a veteran that’s been tested. What funny about McHale’s situation is that he loves veterans, yet he has the youngest team in the league. So I think he’s just giddy, now that they have Harden. I don’t think this takes away from how he feels about Lin.

      I think you’re right that McHale doesn’t see Lin as a star player, but I think he does have respect for Lin’s game and likes what Lin does. Even though Lin has struggled to score, he has actually been doing a lot of solid things that I know Morey and McHale appreciates. Also, McHale likes that Lin is very coach-able.

      Great teams need more than one star, so I think Morey and company are still hoping that Lin develops into a star that they hoped he would when they signed him. I don’t think that’s changed with the acquisition of Harden. Of course, we’ll see how this all plays out. But I’m optimistic.

      I know it’s kind of odd to say, but I’d be more worried about Lin’s role if they kept Kevin Martin. Martin isn’t a good teammate, whereas Harden is. I actually am more confident that Linsanity will return now that Harden is here. I think Harden will energize Lin with his play and Lin will be more motivated to play aggressively, because Harden will be playing aggressively. Also Harden will open things up for Lin and vice versa. This is the synergy that I’m hoping for in Linharden. It’ll take some time to develop this chemistry, but I’m optimistic. Lets see how things look in a couple of months.

  • cary washington

    I wish I was as optimistic as you are. Here’s an espn insider article:

    “Now that the Rockets feature Jeremy Lin at point guard, they could not have found a better fit for him at the other guard spot than Harden. Lin is a ball-dominant guard with average passing skills at best, but he is a willing passer who does not see the floor like the prototypical point guard.

    Instead, Lin is someone who can, just as he did for that crazy stretch last season, score points in bunches. So pairing him with a brilliant passer, someone who can find him in the half-court or full-court game, makes perfect sense. That is Harden.

    As he illustrated with Russell Westbrook, Harden is clearly comfortable playing alongside a score-first point guard, and is used to playing between two monster scorers. So it makes sense for him to be a great complement to Lin, and together they could form a good combination of scorers/passers as the top guards on the team.

    I’d expect most of Houston’s offense to revolve around Harden with the ball in his hands on the wing, in isolation or more often in the side pick-and-roll game, allowing Lin to set up on the opposite wing. This will create lots of shots for Lin off the ball reversal, where he can catch and shoot or use a shot fake and drive. Not being forced to create most of the offense himself will be a huge benefit to Lin, who to my eyes has not fully recovered (mentally more than physically) from offseason knee surgery.”

    The writer, David Thorpe says that Lin is an average passer while Harden Is a brilliant passer?! The ball should run through Harden? Why the h.ell do they even need Jlin on the court then?! Isn’t your pg supposed to do more than make jump shots and layups? I guess it doesn’t matter since Harden is the chosen floor general. Another thing that bothers me, the writer also said that Chandler Parsons had “excellent potential”. Why does every one else get the benefit of the doubt except for Lin?

    This is the kind of stuff that pisses me off. People writing Lin off; everyone gets the benefit of the doubt except for him.

    • Thanks for the excerpts from the article. I think some of the things mentioned in the article are reasons why I think that Harden joining the Rockets makes me optimistic about Linsanity returning. I use “Linsanity” to primarily mean Lin scoring the ball and making plays more for himself than for his teammates. I know “Linsanity” is much more than that, but that’s how I’ve chosen to define the term. So I don’t have too much of a problem with that article. Basically saying that Harden and Lin will be good teammates, which I agree with.

      I think the pendulum for Lin has started to swing to the extreme in the other direction where people are saying he’s mediocre. That’s to be expected, because of his preseason slump. But I think Lin will be fine. The way I see it, it’s not really up to anyone else, but Lin. Once Lin starts playing the way he can, even the critics have no choice but to give him credit. Also, those who know basketball understand and appreciate all the things that Lin does. Even during his preseason slump, he still managed to find ways to help the team. The way I see it, Harden and Lin can share the ball-handling load and that’s not necessarily a bad thing for Lin, because it’ll give him a chance to go Linsane. With K-Mart, he never would have had that chance to play off the ball. What I’ll be looking for is if they’ll run any plays for Lin. That’s what I’m concerned about. I’m hoping they do, because Lin is a scorer, despite his preseason struggles.

      My complaint with D’Antoni was that he never ran any plays for Lin off the ball. Lin had the ball in his hands way too much. His offense was very predictable: let the Point Guard do all the work. So I’m in favor of having Lin work off the ball. Just have to see if they actually run any plays for Lin off the ball. After all, Lin played SG in college, I believe.

      Maybe I’m being too optimistic, but I think Harden will only help Lin go Linsane, because Harden is an unselfish player who can make plays. And if Lin goes back to being Lin, he’ll remain the primary floor general. What I’ll be watching to see is what role Lin will play during clutch time. That’s the real concern if you’re a Lin fan. I suspect they’ll give Harden the final shot, but how will Lin be involved. After all, Lin’s got some ice in his veins too, down the clutch. Are the Rockets just going to completely disregard that now that they have Harden? I think having two clutch threats would be the smart thing for the Rockets to do and this would mean valuing both players pretty equally during clutch time. This way, opponents will have to worry about not one, but two players. We’ll see if McHale feels the same way. Since McHale doesn’t see Lin as a star, I’m not optimistic about this.

  • cary washington

    About running plays for Lin: I don’t think it’s going to happen. Harden was quoted in the Houston Chronicle where he described his post trade conversation with Mchale. Mchale told him that they were going to run plays for for him and the rest of the offense would continue to be free flowing.

    It sounds like they’re mainly going to run plays for Harden.

    I’m not trying to sound like a debbie downer, I apologize if I sound that way. Maybe i’m just preparing for the worst.

    • Yeah, I heard that interview. That’s why I’m not optimistic about them running plays for Lin, either. But, hey, it’s still early. Things change. It all depends on how Lin plays. If he starts scoring regularly, I think they will start running some plays for him. All I’m saying is that now they have Harden, there’s more of a chance of them running plays for Lin off the ball than when they had Martin.

      No apologies needed about your concerns. Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst. That’s a fine attitude.

  • Teams not only doubled up on Lin before, but more often also tripled up on Lin. Now Heat may be iced by Lin with Harden join hands together. Wade and LeBron cannot harass Lin any more and will have a 2:2 strong challenge. When Lin was in Knicks’ games, the Knicks stood aloof and set up Lin alone to be harassed by the Heat players. If that happened to Kobe or Nash, the result could have been the same as Lin being isolated by the Knicks. Harden is not a ballhog like Melo and is more team-oriented rather than self-glorified, selfish, and jealous player. Hopefully, Harden will not intentionally let Lin be isolated in the games like the Knicks’ so called “superstars’ who could even drove out their coach, D’Antoni who supported Lin. McHale and Harden are not that kind of persons!

    • Yep. Harden is definitely a team player and McHale is supportive of Lin and respects Lin’s game, although he doesn’t see Lin as a star. If Linharden turns out the way I hope, it’s gonna be tough to guard. We could see a situation in which they share the ball pretty equally and play pick-and-rolls with each other. We’ll see. That would be fun to watch.

  • Rocketsfan

    I’m also worried about this Linharden thing. Harden refused OkC ‘s offer because he wants to be the starter and the face of the franchise. Now he got it. Is he going to help Lin and cooperate with Lin? No one can tell now. So far they didn’t even play together. Will they have best chemistry? Linsanity happened because mist of people in knicks could not shoot by themselves. In Houston, most of players are good shooters. As long as they have the chance, they score. They don’t need passes to much. And also Lin did PnR with Chandker before. But now did he do that a lot? If Houston designs everything through Harden, Lin will be terrible. If Harden’s role is like kmart, Lin still has chances to pass more. So everything is in question mark. I hope harden an Lin can become religion pair because both of them are Christians.

    • Yes, Harden probably refused OKC’s offer because he wants to be on a team where he’s the primary option. He believes he’s ready to be THE start on a team. But I don’t think these things are worrisome for Lin fans, because of Harden’s style of play. Like Lin, Harden is an unselfish player. He’s just all about making the right play and winning. So I don’t think the fact that he wants to be a superstar says that he’ll be a selfish player. It’s just not his game.

      Also, McHale’s offense is free-flowing. Yes, McHale will have plays specifically designed for Harden and takes advantage of the unique things that Harden can do. But that doesn’t mean that McHale is moving away from his free-flowing offense. Lin will remain the primary ball handler, unless he somehow struggles massively as a floor general.

      I think it’s too early to worry about these things. Just wait a couple months. Right now, McHale is also in a wait and see mode. I’m sure he’ll make adjustments. It’s really up to Lin whether or not he’ll still be a big factor for the Rockets. If he does well and shows what he can do, McHale will probably design some plays for him, too.

      I’ve been watching Lin at interviews the past couple of days and he’s looked the most relaxed and at ease I’ve seen him since he’s joined the Rockets. I think he’ll have a great game tonight, along with Harden. I’m excited!

  • MrPingPong

    Nothing new here: it does not matter how well Lin performs, the FEP (flat earth people – to borrow our Philosopher’s terminology) will always find ways to discredit him. If Lin and his team win, they will say that’s because players so-and-so contribute more. If Lin and his team lose, then it is all Lin’s fault. Blah, blah, blah…

    Somehow, Lin seems to have taken all disses in stride. From the interviews I heard and read, I sense absolutely no hate in this young man’s heart. I am so totally impressed.

    There will be ups and downs in an 82 games season for sure. But I will enjoy watching every game that Lin plays. I pray the basketball gods to keep him safe from injuries.

    PS: Already bought tickets for the home opener and the Knicks game in Houston. Tomorrow and Thanksgiving don’t come soon enough. Can’t wait!

    • MrPingPong, you’re in Houston! Oh man, lucky you! So that video you of the open practice–did you shoot that video yourself? Were you there? As a Lin fan, you must have been so happy that he ended up joining the Rockets, because no one saw that coming.

      I think all basketball fans who live in Houston this year are the luckiest fans in the NBA, because they get to watch I would say the most intriguing NBA team ever! I’ve talked about this in a previous post. With the addition of Harden, it makes them even more interesting. It’s like they’re a team that is from the movies. I think the NBA and TV networks are crazy not to televise more of their games. I think the Rockets probably have more fans outside of their hometown than any other NBA team in the league.

      Anyway, that’s awesome that you have tix for the home opener. I did manage to snag a couple tix from a season ticket holder for when the Rockets come to Portland in November. Too bad that will be the only time they come to my hometown.

      • MrPingPong

        Yeah, I was there. Here’s some more fun Lin open practice shots.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rx-tdU7AgxQ

        I concurred with you it was a miracle that the Knicks let Lin go. It was also a miracle that OKC traded away Harden, though it was no miracle that Houston landed him since Morey has been stockpiling assets and looking for miracles! 🙂 It seems like miracles are results of stupid moves by certain front offices.

        How do y’all like last night game, heh? One down, 81 more to go! Atlanta, here comes PAL!

      • Thanks for this video! That’s been one thing that’s been missing so far with Lin playing with Rockets. I have yet to see an alley-oop. With the Knicks, it was lob city all day everyday with Lin. I still remember that one where he alley-ooped it from half-court to Fields. Lin passes like Tom Brady.

        Also, nice to see ling throwing it down. He’s gotta not be so timid about throwing it down with authority in games.

        Yep, 81 more to go. I bet you’re excited about the home opener, although the Blazers look pretty good. Lillard’s gonna give Lin problems. Hope Lin holds his own. That will be a challenging game for Lin.

      • It’s funny you bring up the miracles. I’m not a Christian or anything, but it’s really crazy how no one saw the Harden signing coming, just like no one saw the Lin signing coming. Both were shocking acquisitions. I’m telling you, this Rockets team is the most intriguing NBA team ever! I think Rockets fans should be thrilled. They’ve not only got a very exciting team to watch, but a great group of guys who are worth cheering for. Other teams are so boring in comparison, in my personal opinion. It’s like HDTV versus black-and-white TV. No matter how far this team can go this year, they’re worthy of cheering for.

    • MrPingPong

      Philosopher: I am a pantheist, worshiping Basketball Gods these days… 🙂
      Yeah, the Blazers are looking good. It’s gonna be fun to watch Lin-Lillard!

  • You guys are missing something: Linharden’s combined +/- of 41. That’s a team voting for 2 guys!
    Gotta be a record of some kind. I’ve never seen a number like lin’s 23.

    • Yep. The +/- 41 and Lin’s 23 was very impressive. I think it speaks to the fact that Lin does all the little things that help teams win, and so does Harden. They’re both unselfish guys that make their teammates better. When Lin was on the bench, the Pistons went on a 10-0 run. That’s the ironic thing about Lin. People are overly fixated on his turnovers, yet, he actually provides stability and cohesion to teams and do all the little things that make the difference in winning games. This is how he had that long winning streak during Linsanity.

  • MrPingPong

    Full first quarter replay of the Rockets vs Piston game:
    http://youtu.be/xlT6CITN7RY
    The remaining quarters are in uploader’s video list.
    Enjoy!

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