Hall of Famer Walt Frazier: “Lin is like me and Harden is like Earl”

So, I missed last night’s game against the Knicks, in which Lin and Harden figured out a way to mesh well. If anyone has any insights into how it worked, I’d appreciate hearing your thoughts. Since I didn’t see the game, I don’t know if it was because McHale changed things up and finally had Lin assume more of the floor general duties and let Harden play off the ball, as I’ve been suggesting. Or did McHale keep everything the same and Lin just blocked everything out and played without overthinking things. In the post game interview, he said he just went out there and had fun. Every time Lin just plays without thinking, he has a great game, just like during the entire Linsanity winning streak, as well as against the Spurs as a Rockets.

Hall of Famer Walt Frazier made some very interesting observations about how Lin and Harden can mesh and I think he’s dead on. It’s what I’ve been saying all along. I hope McHale is listening. Oh, also, yesterday morning (i.e., before the Knicks game), I tweeted Morey the following. You can find the tweet here: https://twitter.com/JeremyLintel:

@dmorey Harden > Lin playing off the ball. Lin = or > Harden as floor general. Irrational to make Lin play off ball. Reverse their roles!
7:28 AM – 17 Dec 12
I doubt Morey even read it, but one can always hope.
Anyway, Frazier, who has been a big fan of Lin’s had some very interesting insights into how Lin and Harden can mesh.  Here are some quotes from Frazier, that I saw on Ultimate Rockets: http://blog.chron.com/ultimaterockets/2012/12/knicks-legend-walt-frazier-says-meshing-lin-harden-just-a-matter-of-time/

“Jeremy is like me, and Harden is like Earl,” Frazier said. “He likes the ball. I was the guy who created. They have to find the harmony to make that happen. I’m sure as the season goes on, Harden is not going to want to be out here, 30 feet away, trying to maneuver to get in. It’s tiring, man. If he’s got a good guy like Lin who can set him up to get easy shots, that’s going to prolong his energy level.

“The thing with us, both of us could be a point guard or a shooting guard, which is rare today in the league. If Earl was having a good game, he would be the shooter and I would be the orchestrator, and vice versa. I liked when he was having a good game, because they would double him and I would get more shots.”

Frazier said the questions about the Rockets’ backcourt are similar to when the Knicks traded for Monroe, except he was a top rival. Frazier and Monroe won the Knicks’ second title together. Both are in the Hall of Fame, with their numbers retired in New York.

“It could happen for them because Lin likes to penetrate and dish,” Frazier said. “Harden likes to go to the open spot and shoot the ball.”

I’m 100% in line with Frazier on this and I have no idea why McHale et al haven’t been able to see this. I think maybe it’s because Frazier, who is the play-by-play commentator for the Knicks, got to observe Lin closely and can fully appreciate what Lin offers, while McHale and company only experienced Linsanity from afar. McHale mostly saw the “hype”, not the substance behind it.
I’m hoping that this game, combined with the Spurs game will wake up the Rockets coaching staff. I mean, when Lin plays well, the Rockets are capable of competing with the best teams in the NBA! They went to overtime against the team with the best record in the NBA (at the time) and they destroyed a team that’s undefeated at home, breaking their own losing road streak! Both times, Lin got to play his game. That has got to count for something. I know the Rockets have a great offense, from a statistical standpoint, which is why McHale et al are very hesitant to change anything on the offensive end, but I really think the offense could be even better if they let Jeremy Lin be the primary ball handler. As I’ve said before, when Lin is the primary ball handler, the ball movement is much better. When Harden is the primary ball handler, the ball gets sticky. Guys stand around watching Harden a lot of the time. Harden is more of a pure scorer. I’m not saying that Harden shouldn’t make plays and handle the ball. I’m just saying that Lin should be the one doing it 70% of the time or so when they’re both on the court together. I think its great that they can switch roles, making it even more difficult for the defense, because the defense doesn’t know who to focus on at any given time. This was my hope for the Linharden synergy when I learned about the Harden deal. I still think it’s possible, but the coaching staff needs to stop overly favoring Harden at HUGE expense to Lin’s game. Yes, Harden is the number one option and the best player on the team. But this doesn’t mean that you make the irrational decision to make Lin play off the ball, because you think it might hurt Harden’s game some if Harden doesn’t have the ball. Harden can play off the ball so much better than Lin can and Lin is equal if not better than Harden as a floor general. Personally, I think Lin is a better floor general, because Lin is not looking to score. He’s primarily looking for the most optimal play. In order for Lin to be successful, he needs a fair amount of high pick-and-rolls. I can go on and on, but I’m sure you’re all sick of me saying the same things over and over again on this blog. I also want to add that Lin is not completely innocent here. In the post game interview last night, McHale said: “We keep on telling him to be aggressive and attack. Maybe he felt comfortable here in Madison Square Garden, I don’t know, but he played very well.” Now, I’m sure McHale is being honest here. I’m sure he has been TELLING Lin to be aggressive and attack, but what I don’t know is if McHale has been backing that up with his ACTIONS. What I’m not sure about (and I’m genuinely not sure about this) is if McHale has been benching Lin whenever Lin has not been aggressive to encourage him to be more aggressive. Or if McHale has been benching Lin, because he has no confidence in Lin and, as a result, Lin is PLAYING TO NOT LOSE. And that’s why Lin hasn’t been playing aggressively. Lin is afraid of making mistakes. I suspect Lin is also confused about this and doesn’t really know why he keeps getting benched. Maybe this game will clear things up and maybe after this game, McHale will make it clear to Lin that Lin needs to play aggressively and just let the chips fall where they may. This is what I’m hoping for, at least. We’ll see.
The Walt Frazier interview makes me think of this:
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P8C5SXxuHfc]

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  • Slian

    You should forward this article to the Rockets coaching staff.

    _____

    • standupphilosopher

      You mean the article on Ultimate Rockets about Frazier’s thoughts on Lin and Harden? I’m sure they’ve seen that, since it’s one of the major news sources for the Rockets. Just hope they take it to heart and not brush it aside. i’m sure Les has shown the article to McHale.

  • emz

    They staggered Harden and Lin’s minutes more, and ran a couple plays at the beginning of the game to get Lin into rhythm. Lin had run with the bench for about 4~5 minute stretches when Harden was sitting. Both Harden and Lin were setting screens for each other. Sometimes they had Douglas, Lin, and Harden on the floor at the same time, but it doesn’t really work imo unless Asik (for D) or Smith (for O) is on the floor. (they had Morris on the floor as center… a stretch center?)

    I seriously think that the Knicks overcompensated their gameplan to guard Asik and Parsons when the last game they overcompensated for Lin; so Asik was basically contained and Parsons had a nice game but not the 20 pts we’re used to seeing from him. Rockets still had a nice spread though, 4 players over 13, 3 more playing at double digits, assists from everywhere and good ball movement.

    Harden had a ‘quiet’ 28 points, and was smiling a lot.

    Greg Smith said afterwards that he really wanted to come out with energy, “get the win for Jeremy and Toney”.

    Awwwww!

    • standupphilosopher

      Man, thanks, emz for the great summary! Really appreciate it! Yep, I think staggering minutes is another thing the Rockets need to do more. What made me really happy to see from your summary is that Lin and Harden set screens for each other. Man, I’ve said this in previous posts. I really wanted to see that. That’s part of Linharden synergy for me, is to see them set screens for one another. I haven’t seen it all year and keep saying that I just want to see it ONCE to see how it works out. Sucks that I missed it. Hope the coaching staff learns some lessons from this game and start putting that in some.

      Great to see Harden smiling a lot, last night. Yeah, I know Harden wants Lin to be successful, because he knows it makes the team better.

      Yeah, part of me is wondering if the Rockets offense was good last night, because the Knicks defense was so awful. If that’s the case, than maybe the Linharden synergy was just a one-off. Although, if you recall, Lin and Harden had good chemistry in Harden’s two debut games–before the coaches got to them!

      • emz

        The Knicks defense was retardedly awful; so awful that sometimes I thought that maybe they were giving Lin a ‘pass’ since the Knicks have wins to spare at this point. Also Novak was 1-6, which SERIOUSLY surprised me.

        Part of it too is that the Rockets pretty much ran this old team ragged; Copeland who had a breakout game of 29 pts seemed like the youngest (or at least most youthful) member of the Knicks. There was a lot of transition points, and it was really obvious during these fast breaks that the Rockets were RUNNING. Also that the Rocket’s top speed easily beat out the Knicks top speed, which is why I think they had Lin, Harden, and Douglas on the floor at the same time because between the three of them they could outrun most of the Knicks even half-assing it.

        Actually I just went right now to check out the Knicks roster, both Copeland and Jr Smith (who were the Knicks’ points leaders) were among the youngest of the Knicks.

        In pace, Houston right now is 99.2, the next highest is Dallas at 96.9. New York is 93.3. Chandler spent most of the game trying to steal Asik’s rebounds, which worked because Asik only had 2; but in return Chandler missed more at the bucket than he usually does and Asik never got into foul trouble.

        When Lin left the floor for the last time, Harden was the first one out of the seat and actually went several feet onto the court to give him high fives and congratulations, also Toney gave Lin a full arms-around-shoulders hug quickly before he ran on-court for the last couple minutes.

      • emz

        ah yeah, here it is confirmed by a Knicks blog.

        http://www.postingandtoasting.com/2012/12/17/3777948/pre-game-knicks-vs-rockets-12-17-12

        “So yeah, I hope Madison Square Garden gives Jeremy a big, hearty pre-game ovation for the one-of-a-kind gift he gave us last February. I hope the Knicks themselves greet him warmly. Then I hope they treat him like an ordinary point guard. Before that game in Houston, all the guys crowed at length about the match-up being nothing special, then proceeded to play defense fixated on Lin and Lin alone. That can’t happen this time around. ”

        lol. Ordinary point guard.

      • standupphilosopher

        Ha ha. It’s always fun to go back and read the pregames. I like Seth. Haven’t read him much this year, though. Seth turned out to be dead wrong about his advice to treat Lin as an “ordinary point guard”.

      • MrPingPong

        Perhaps Seth meant to say ‘any other point guard’?
        The right expression about Lin is ‘a Linsane point guard’.

        🙂

        Again, Woodson, the Knicks and their fans do not seem to have learned anything about Lin. For 26 games, right in front of their eyes…

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