So, I keep hearing the same seemingly logical reasoning about how Lin is so needed with the second unit and why it makes sense to not start Lin. This line of reasoning sounds sensible on its surface, so many well-meaning people (as well as Haters) trot this out as valid reasons to not start Lin. But when you dig deeper, this line of reasoning turns out to be very misguided and disturbing.
Isn’t it interesting how Lin all of a sudden becomes so valuable when it comes to running any second unit? Everyone needs Lin to run their second unit, because NO ONE but Lin can run the second unit. It’s funny how every team without Lin seems to somehow make do with average Point Guards running their second unit, but the moment Lin joins a team, all of a sudden NO ONE is capable of running the second unit but Lin. And whatever team Lin joins, the starting lineup suddenly doesn’t need anyone to run it. The starting lineup of any team Lin joins is suddenly able to run itself, no real PGs needed. We just need a mediocre PG with the starting lineup, because the starters can run themselves.
Also, it seems like every team Lin joins, the second unit becomes SO critical. The fate of the team depends on having a scorer on the second unit and there are suddenly no scorers to be had on the second unit. Lin is the only one who is capable of scoring for the second unit.
An interesting stat for well-meaning people who trot out this insane line of reasoning is that most of the teams that made it to the playoffs last season had some of the worst benches. So this whole idea that the bench is SO IMPORTANT and that Lin is the only guy who can run it and is needed to make the bench competitive is so misguided. The reality is, you want your best guys starting, because starters play the most minutes, with only a few rare exceptions. You want your best guys on the floor most of the time. Starters also finish games, just because of the logistics of substitutions and rest times, etc. It’s more logistically challenging to have someone coming off the bench also finish games. I’m not saying it can’t be done, I’m just saying that it’s a lot more natural to have the guys who start games finish games. If you try to have a bench player finish games, then somewhere during the game they’re playing more minutes at any given time than they probably should. Hope that makes sense.
Don’t even get me started on seemingly well-meaning people who say that it doesn’t matter if you start or not. Or that you don’t have to start to have a significant impact on the game. This is just factually wrong! These people give Ginobli as an example. It’s as if these people have never heard of the concept called “the exception that proves the rule”. The reality is, only a few players in the league have a significant impact from the bench. Most impact players come from the starting unit. There’s a reason why any coach would be crucified if they didn’t start, say, LeBron (I’m using an extreme example to prove a point–relax, I’m not comparing Lin to King James). If starting isn’t important, then why are there no superstars coming off the bench?
The reality is, starting is important. The reality is, starters generally get the most playing time. The reality is, starters generally finish games. Somehow, when it comes to Lin, simple logic goes out the window.
In this particular case, with this particular Lakers team, Lin is needed with the starting unit, because the success of the starting unit is more important to the success of the team overall. The reason why this is so is simply because the starting unit is on the court most of the time for a team, so they have the most influence on the success or failure of a team.
When it comes to this Lakers team, Kobe is too old to be the primary play maker, so they really do need Lin with the starting unit. Sure, it would be great if we could clone Lin and he can run both the first and second unit. But we can’t. So given that we only have one Jeremy Lin on the team, it only makes logical sense to put your best point guard with the first unit, since the success or failure of your team depends more on your first unit.
Price is more than capable of running the second unit, when they’re on the floor, which won’t be that much of the time anyway. No need for panic. It’s not going to be that big of a deal for Price to be with the second unit. I’m sure Price can manage running things for like 15 minutes a game and everything won’t fall apart. Also, Lin starting doesn’t mean that he won’t also have time with the second unit. So there’s no need to worry that the second unit will fall apart without Lin.
As far as scoring goes, the Lakers have plenty of firepower in the second unit, even without Young. Guys like Randle and Clarkson are all about scoring. That’s what they live for. I know they’re rookies, but they’re pretty damn good rookies. So these two are more than capable of carrying the scoring load until young gets back. Also don’t forget about guys like Ryan Kelly and Xavier Henry, who will be back very soon. So this whole notion that Lin is so badly needed with the second unit, because he’s the ONLY one who can score is misguided. Besides, like I said, just because Lin starts, does not mean that he’ll have ZERO time with the second unit. With Lin starting, you get the best of both worlds. You can have him play with the second unit and he also has a much much better chance of finishing every single game, which is what you really need from Lin, since he excels when it matters the most.
So I’m sorry, but any argument that says Lin is needed with the second unit is misguided and disturbing. It’s disturbing, because it’s just another veiled attempt to marginalize Lin. It’s disturbing, because it’s just another example of how McHale has brainwashed the league into seeing Lin as only a back-up point guard. Well-meaning people may not realize this, but there is a history of Lin suddenly being relegated to the second unit. And it all has to do with McHale’s irrational benching of Lin, which ended up hurting the Rockets in the end, because Lin wasn’t on the court as much as he should have been and Lin ended up not finishing a lot of games. Again, starters generally play the most minutes and finish games. If you want Lin to play the most minutes and finish games, you want him to start.
In Houston, some of the very same reasons have been given to bench Lin. And the end result is that Lin played fewer minutes, didn’t close a number of games, had less impact than he would have if he had started, and is seen as losing his starting spot to Patrick Fucking Beverley. The disturbing thing is that these same reasons are used by well-meaning people and Lin-Haters alike, and, although they may have different intentions, they both end up serving the same end goal, which is to marginalize Lin, because he’s an Asian American baller who doesn’t quite belong with the starting lineup.