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:
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: