Charlotte Hornets is Surprisingly the Right Choice for Jeremy Lin

Jeremy Lin stunned everyone, including myself, when he accepted a two-year $4M+ deal to be a back up point guard for the Charlotte Hornets. But after learning a little more about the Hornets and listening in on the press conference today, I’m very confident that both Lin and the Hornets made the right choice.

The Hornets are looking to shore up one of the weakest offenses last season with their addition of long-range scorers this summer, including Nicholas Batum, Jeremy Lamb, etc. Coach Clifford, in today’s press conference, made it clear that Jeremy Lin is needed to be the play-maker for himself (since Lin is also a proficient three-point shooter and scorer) and for others. Clifford stressed that a team of great shooters is not very effective without a play-maker. I think the Hornets see Lin as the play-maker they really need this season, since Kemba Walker is not really a great play-maker for others. Walker is more of a scorer than a passer. Walker only averaged 5.1 assists last season as a starter, whereas Lin managed to average 4.6 assists playing only around 25 minutes on a team in full tank mode. Now, I’m not saying that the Hornets are looking to have Lin start over Walker, I’m just saying that they will value Lin’s play-making abilities, since the Hornets don’t really have a great play-maker.

The more I hear from Clifford and the more I learn about the Hornets, the more excited I am about Lin’s role. I envision Lin playing alongside Walker plenty of times and I do think Lin will average around 30 minutes from the bench and finish a lot of games, since the coach sees Lin as capable of playing both the point guard and shooting guard positions. I don’t know what Clifford’s relationship to Walker is, but depending on how well Lin does and how strong Lin’s relationship is with Clifford, there is even a chance that Lin may even start over Walker at some point in the season, since I think Clifford is really going to like Lin’s character/game and Clifford seems to be someone who really values a player with high character. Lin starting, of course, is the most optimistic scenario and still highly unlikely. As long as Lin gets to play his game and can average 30+ minutes a game and finish a lot of games, I’ll be satisfied.

The great thing about the contract with the Hornets is that the second year is a player option, which means Lin isn’t locked into this ridiculously cheap contract for two years. If Lin does well this upcoming season, Lin can get a contract that is more in line with his worth either with the Hornets or on another team.

Even though today’s press conference was pretty brief, it did seem more substantive than Lin’s introductory press conferences in the past. It seemed like there was real rapport between Lin and his coach this time around. One really significant thing that Lin mentioned in his press conference is that Coach Clifford had a conversation with him about how he’d be used, which is something that Lin’s never really had before. So I think Lin feels that this coach really values what he can bring to the team. In the past, Lin is forced to fit into whatever framework the coach already has in place, even if it means Lin isn’t allowed to play his game. So I think it was really important that Coach Clifford wanted to have an open dialogue about Lin’s role from the get-go. I think Lin has a real opportunity to finally be the attacking point guard that he is meant to be and not have to constantly worry about deferring to others or constantly looking over his shoulder at a disapproving coach. Lin mentioned that it was important to him to be proactive about communicating what he wants his role to be with the coach. That was really great to hear.

It was also great to see Coach Clifford nodding in complete agreement when Lin started talking about how it’s more important to have the right team culture and guys with high character than it is to have a lot of raw talent on a team. Coach Clifford, from what little I know of him, does seem to be a guy who values team players and guys with high character over just raw talent. This is probably why Lance Stephenson didn’t end up working out with the Hornets. It sounds like the guys they have now are all team players with good character. I don’t know much about Kemba Walker, but I hope he won’t feel threatened by Lin and mess up the chemistry on the team as a result. Right now, my main concern is the dynamic between Walker and Lin–especially when Lin starts getting a lot of attention from fans and the media. I want to make it clear, I have no real reason to be concerned, since Walker is a blank slate to me. So I don’t want to start any controversy where there is none.

Overall, I’m very optimistic about the makeup of this team. I think a lot of pieces fit together well. If Lin gets to play his game and can average around 30 minutes a game, I’m confident the Hornets can make the playoffs in the weak East. I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but I think we’re going to see plenty of “Linsanity” this upcoming season, because I anticipate a lot of team ball and good energy from this team. It’ll be a lot of fun to watch.

From what was said in the press conference, I feel like this coaching staff really understands Lin. Coach Clifford was D’Antoni’s assistant in LA, so he was able to reach out to D’Antoni and Steve Nash to learn more about Lin. One of the Hornets’s assistant coaches, Stephen Silas, was in Golden State when Lin was there, so I feel like this coaching staff really has a familiarity with Lin and a positive association with Lin. In the press conference, Lin said something very important that I’d like to highlight: “A lot of the issues that I feel like I’ve faced in the past few years, I feel like we’ve already discussed them and addressed them without even going into my past experiences.” This statement by Lin is really critical to me because it speaks to the idea that coach Clifford really understands the issues that Lin has dealt with in the past and has removed all of those obstacles for Lin so Lin can play his game from the get-go. No more deferring, no more looking over his shoulder, no more standing in the corner waiting for the ball, etc.

The other critical moment the press conference to me was when Jeremy Lin talked about how every aspect of his game has continued to improve since Linsanity (going left, shooting percentage, turnovers, defense, etc.) and this has kept him positive despite other factors such as minutes, going down. This tells me that Jeremy is very confident in himself as a player and his skill level. He just hasn’t had the right fit and hasn’t been allowed to play his game with sufficient minutes and that’s why his stats have gone down. I think Lin still has a belief that he can still be a great player and is excited to see what his limit is when given the chance to play solid minutes and play his game. Lin basically said all it all here: “I do believe that I am a more refined player, more all-around player. I do think the work I’ve put in has made me better. I just don’t think I have had the same fit or opportunity…I want to see how close I can get to reaching my full potential. I think in order to do that, it takes a lot of work on my end and it takes finding the right opportunity, the right coach or the right system. And I think this is a huge step in the right direction. I don’t know what my limit is. I don’t know how good I can be, but my goal is to find out.”

What’s even more critical than Lin’s statement is that right after Lin finished saying all this, Coach Clifford interjected with the following comment: “And I want to add to that. You know, it’s funny I was reading this morning [as I was] going over some notes. There’s whatever phrase from Bill Belichick that says pro players that continue to improve as they get older usually possess a combination of intelligence, drive and character…The thing that struck me is that [Lin] is hungry to continue to improve, which unfortunately is not always the case in any pro league. So I think [Lin] possesses those traits and I’m confident that he’ll continue to get better.”

The fact that Coach Clifford wanted to reinforce what Lin said out of his own accord and did so by summoning such a powerful quote from Bill Belichick to speak about Lin tells me that Clifford really has a genuine high regard for Lin. So I do anticipate that Lin and Clifford will have a great working relationship. This is why I think there’s a chance that Lin may even be able to start at some point in the season, either alongside Walker or over Walker.

So, once again, Lin’s career has taken another surprising turn. Linsanity in LA might have been what a Hollywood hack would have come up with, but a much more talented screen writer would use a small, sleepy setting, like Charlotte, for Linsanity 2.0.

About JLintel

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  • Clear to me that there is a possibility that JLin will start with Kimba for some games (small lineups) but not over Kimba, unless Kimba gets hurt. One way or another, JLin will get his 30+ mins play time, and I believe that Coach Clifford hinted very clearly.

    Kimba and JLin share 48 PG mins will be beneficial/critical for Hornets as a team.

  • MrPingPong

    Thanks for sharing your newly found optimism on Lin’s signing with the Hornets, Philosopher.

    Did you see the post-presser interviews of Lin and Clifford at the Hornets’ official site? For sure Lin will be running the second unit. However there is talk of Lin playing alongside Walker. It will be interesting to see how that will work out. Since I do not follow the Hornets up until now, I google for reviews of Kemba Walker (KW) and Steve Clifford (SC) just to get a feel for how they are viewed by the fans and NBA pundits out there.

    The reviews on KW are mixed. In general though, the fans love KW but also recognize a few of his flaws such as inefficient scorer and bad defender. Let’s hope that KW recovers fully from his knee surgery and meshes well with Lin. Lin is a team player. Lin will make his teammates look good.

    The reviews for SC are mixed also. SC in the 2013-2014 season, his first season as the HC, surprised everyone by taking a very young team to the playoffs. Then the team came crashing down in 2014-2015. The fans turned on SC, blaming SC for lack of X’s and O’s, for bad rotation management, for inflexibility and inability to make appropriate adjustments, etc. To be fair the team suffered from a rash of injuries to key players like KW and Big Al. This 2015-2016 season is SC’s final contract year. It’s make or break for SC. Lin will make SC look good. Can Lin save SC’s job like he did for MDA in New York? 🙂

    Linsanity in BuzzCity? Letzzz Gooo JL7! 🙂

  • Forthelin

    Some terrific and clever insights! Just the place to talk intelligently about a player we all root for!

  • mcley Ma

    I watched yesterday’s press conference and all other Lin’s interviews (1-on-1 on Hornets.com, two radio interviews for ESPN730 and WFNZ610). Jeremy did a great job. I would say every one loves Lin. These media ppl covering Charlotte Hornets have jumped on Lin’s bandwagon.

    Like JLintel said in the article, there was a critical moment when Jeremy Lin talked about how his game has continued to improve and where he is gonna be.
    He was ansewering a deep question from Rick Bonnell from Charlotte Observer who has been covering Hornets for years. I can see all the instant reacts on twitter and I was one of them to be impressed by Lin’s words. Lin is confident, clearly knows who he is, how he can improve, and keeps putting efforts into it.

    After kind of a disappointing season, Lin, Kemba, Big Al… old or new, these Hornets players need to bounce back. And I believe they will. Just can’t wait to see them play.

  • Lin fan here, but in all honestly, Lin is not better than Kemba. Using assists as a reason is just pretty bad imo. Both are good players, but Kemba is better.

    • I actually never used the word “better”. That’s your own interpretation of what I actually was trying to communicate with the assist stats I cited, which is that Lin is more of a willing passer and Kemba is more of a scorer.

      The discussion of who is better is not a really productive one to have–especially at this point. It is also a pretty complicated discussion, because in order to really make an argument for who is better, a much more in-depth discussion is involved. I would never just cite one stat as an argument for saying one player is better than another. It’s much more complicated than that. Need to really take into consideration how a player is utilized, the number of minutes, usage, etc. and what that player has done with their role, minutes, usage, etc.

      I think people look at stats at face value too much. Need to really dig into the stats to really understand what is really going on.

      Anyway, just wanted to make it clear that I wasn’t trying to say Lin is better. I’m also not saying that Kemba is better. I think to make either statement, without going in-depth into making a real case for it is reckless and unproductive. So I stay away from such simplistic statements like “so and so is better than so and so” without going into it in-depth.

      What is most important is that both players have good chemistry and both play team ball to help the Hornets win as many games as possible and make the playoffs, since I anticipate that both players will share the floor and the ball quite a bit.

    • MrPingPong

      Thanks wupeter97 for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. Are you a Charlotte Hornets fan by any chance?

  • MrPingPong

    Hello Lin fans/non-fans and non-Lin fans! Just making conversation here…

    I’ve been reading a lot of blogs and commentaries on Lin’s signing with the Hornets. Sadly, the majority of the Hornets fans out there seem to have bought the narrative that Lin is a bad defender. A while back, I pointed out an academic research paper that proposed a new analytics model on NBA defensive skills and ranked all the NBA players based on this model:

    http://arxiv.org/abs/1405.0231

    In case you have time to burn (after all it’s still the off-season), you may want to download this paper and check out how Lin fares in this model. All the number crunching is based on the data collected in all the NBA games of the whole 2013-2014 season. At the end of the paper, there is a link to “summary A” that shows more results and rankings. I’d say Lin did quite well among the guards and Kemba too! 🙂

    Now, there is a shorter version presented at the 2015 MIT Sloan Sports Analytic Conference:

    http://www.sloansportsconference.com/?p=15794

    I strongly recommend watching the Youtube video shown at this link before reading all the crazy math stuffs! 🙂

    Have a great day/evening everyone, wherever you are on this WEB. 🙂

    • Thanks for all the great info, as usual, MrPingPong! Lots of stuff to digest!

  • MrPingPong

    Hello Lin fans/non-fans and non-Lin fans, more off-season conversation here…

    I accidentally stumbled upon a very insightful Hornets blog by Reinis Lācis, a young Latvian NBA “junkie”:

    http://lamarmatic.com/author/lamarmatic/

    If you have time to burn, check out his 2014-2015 reviews of the Hornets and their key players, in particular Kemba, Big AL, MKG and Zeller. His reviews of Rich Cho and Steve Clifford seem to resonate the sentiments of many other Hornets fans on other sites. I would like very much to hear comments on this “Lamarmatic” from Hornets fans who are visiting here.

    Switching topic to NBA analytics, I would like to recommend the following Youtube video:

    https://youtu.be/BHuZc9lQ5ss

    ESPN characterizes the Hornets’s adoption of analytics as “one-foot-in.” According to ESPN, Rich Cho has beefed up the team’s analytics staff since his arrival in 2011, but Curtis Polk, MJ’s right-hand-man, is analytics agnostic.

    Have a great day/evening everyone, wherever you are on this WEB! 🙂

    • mcley Ma

      I read LamarMatic’s reviews in April. I remember some Hornets blogger recommended his blog. He has some good points. Although I think what he said about Kemba wasn’t anything new. He might be a bit critical.

      BTW, what I am reserching these days are what types of plays Lin fits best. I think it would be helpful if Hornets can adopt some of these plays.

      • MrPingPong

        Thanks for sharing your thoughts on LamarMatic’s reviews, mcley Ma!

        I live in Houston and used to attend just about all the Rockets’ home games when Lin was with them. I recorded every game I watched and posted the videos on Youtube. Here is an example:

        https://youtu.be/FNV-ubKter4

        The above clip is just an extract of the whole game that I actually recorded. My Lin videos show whole games, quarter by quarter, and not just the highlights. Perhaps they can help you analyze Lin’s game and see how Lin can fit into the Hornets’ system. Plenty of time to study film right now, right? 🙂

        And here is analysis of Lin’s defense by our very own JLintel:

        https://youtu.be/Hmh9Q4Mx73I

      • Lin isn’t the type of player that is too big on set plays. Lin is at his best in a free-flowing offense, where the PG is fully in charge of the offense. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case in LA. And in Houston, he had to defer to Harden, so he wasn’t allowed to lead the offense.

        But to the extent we’re talking about plays, High Screens well beyond the top of the arc are Lin’s specialty. Give Lin a high screen and he’ll be able to create plays for himself and others with ease. That’s really all Lin needs is high screens, because it gives him lots of space to maneuver and lots of options out of the high screen. In LA and Houston, he was rarely given any screens at all, which was very frustrating to see and made absolutely no sense. I hope this is not going to be the case in Charlotte. I don’t know enough about the Hornets to know if they have any guys who are willing to set screens.

        The biggest key to Lin being able to be effective and help his teammates is for him to play fearlessly. For him to not be afraid of making mistakes. This is what D’Antoni provided Lin and I’m hoping that Clifford will do the same.

  • BBallFanfromNYC

    I’m just going to sit back and be happy for Lin, and be cautiously optimistic. I hope that the MDA/GoldenState connection w/ the coaching staff will work in Lin’s favor. However, until the season starts and I see what moves Coach Clifford makes, I’m not going to proclaim this as anything positive. We all thought JLin going to HOU and LA was the “nxt great step” in his career, and each time the poor guy got burned. That’s not to say Clifford is like McFail or Brownoser Scott, but there’s nothing to say he’s not, either. Just hoping this works out for the best.

    I still Lin back in NYK, dammit (just w/ Melo gone and a coaching staff and FO that believes in him 😛 )

    • old & in the way

      Let’s hope we can get NYK in Charlotte. But the good news is that Jeremy is a much better player now than in 2012 and he has become a very good defensive player. People will be surprised if they just watch him play defense now and watch with an open mind although I don’t see how anyone could miss his improvements on defense over the past 3 seasons. I’m ready for Jeremy to “break away from his leash” and show the NBA what he can still do. All he needs is a green light from the head coach. Let’s hope Coach Clifford means what he says. Later and ciao for now.

    • MrPingPong

      Good idea, BBallFanfromNYC! Just sit back and relax!

      We LOFs have been burnt so many times in the past. So cautious optimism is quite understandable! 🙂

      The Hornets FO and coach seem quite genuine and sincere though. It’s gotta to work out this time. Or are we LOFs just led to believe in whatever we want to believe in? We will find out in a few more months, won’t we? Can’t wait! 🙂

      Sorry about your Knicks, my friend! Melo is gonna be there until his “ridiculous” contract runs out. But this new kid “Zinger” seems quite alright. I follow PostingAndToasting still because I really enjoy their sense of humor. I believe Knicks fans truly appreciate Linsanity because it happened in front of their own eyes!

    • Yes, it’s a very good idea to be cautiously optimistic, BBallFanfromNYC. The one thing that gives me hope this time around, as you pointed out, is the MDA connection. I’m hoping that Clifford continues to talk to MDA in depth about Lin and will be convinced to let Lin make mistakes and let Lin play fearlessly, because that was key to Linsanity in NYC.

      • old & in the way

        I agree, too, that it is a very good idea to be cautiously optimistic regarding how Jeremy Lin will be utilized by NBA coaching personnel. I didn’t know anything about Coach Clifford a week ago, but I have liked everything so far that I have learned about him in my reading and research. I am most encouraged by the fact that he has had a working relationship with Mike D’Antoni in the past and that he seems to have continued a personal relationship with him into the present. This MDA connection gives me a cautious hope for this upcoming NBA season with Jeremy and the Charlotte Hornets. Onward and upward to both Jeremy Lin as a player and the Charlotte Hornets as a team. I wish the season started today at least in figurative terms. But I understand the need for a substantial “rest period” between seasons. I will wait and be patient and cautiously optimistic.

  • Bigbeef

    I hate to be the bearer of bad news, and I agree with all you said, but does anyone here think JLin negotiated seriously on his salary? And this Cho guy, being Asian, couldn’t he have saved the face of the only Asian guy in basketball by offering him more? Zero solidarity. Lin cannot reach 10M if he starts from 2M whatever he does. Lin is portraying it as a restart, but is he even starting? Everyone outside of Lin fans thinks, “well here is minimum wage second team player, obviously he would’ve been cut from the NBA going to team like Hornets on a minimum salary agreement.” The biggest surprise is, doesn’t the teams want to make huge money from Asia? Maybe they are not making money from Asia. I would think one trip to China and Taiwan would take care of Lin’s salary for the whole year. I don’t know. But it’s bad however you look at it.

    • old & in the way

      You make good points. Jeremy’s salary is an insult to him as a player who has achieved a pretty high level of success in the NBA in spite of the heavily biased treatment he has received. We will just have to play a waiting game and see how Jeremy is treated once the season begins. This could turn out to be another bad situation for Jeremy but, of course, we all hope that is not the case and that both Jeremy and the Hornets will be successful together. For now we can only hope that this opportunity for Jeremy in Charlotte is fruitful for him. But I agree that he should be a starter on this team. Again I can only hope that he will be allowed to compete fairly and that playing time will be equitable relative to one’s talent, skill level and in-game performance and that the standards will be the same for each individual player. We’ve all been here before with Jeremy. Let’s hope the results are different this time. I think there’s a good chance that they will be given the MDA connection and relationship with Steve Clifford, the Charlotte head coach.

    • MrPingPong

      Thanks for stopping by and share your thoughts, BigBeef! 🙂

      In my view, the “Cho guy” does not really run the show. The best gesture he could make was fly to Palo Alto to ink Lin. MJ signs the paychecks and does not seem to have much interest in Lin. According to Lin, he has yet to talk to MJ, his childhood idol! May be MJ will follow the team to China for the two preseason exhibition games and will let Lin take pictures with him for show. 😉

      And let’s not worry about what the LOHs say about Lin. Lin will play in the NBA for a long time and will be financially independent after his career is over. I don’t think Lin puts money as his number one priority. He just wants to play his game. And when Lin gets to play his beautiful game of basketball, delusional LOFs like myself will rejoice! 🙂

    • Thanks for stopping by, Bigbeef! I wasn’t too surprised that Lin got really low balled this summer. I wasn’t expecting a very good FA for Lin overall. So considering my very low expectations, the Hornets situation is good from a basketball standpoint. There is a chance Lin wins 6th Man. If that happens, $10 million may not be totally out of the question–especially with the salary cap rising in the future: http://www.sbnation.com/nba/2015/4/17/8447839/nba-salary-cap-projection-free-agency-2016-2017

      This is why Lin’s contract is really great, because he’ll essentially become a FA again when the salary cap rises.

      There is a pretty interesting report by a stats guy that shows NBA stars make less than they’re worth financially to a team. The report has a chart that shows Lin’s two-year contract should be worth $19M.

      http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/kawhi-leonard-like-all-the-best-nba-players-is-vastly-underpaid/

      I also don’t get why owners wouldn’t be tripping all over each other to sign Lin, just for his marketability. But I’m also glad that this doesn’t happen, because I’d rather Lin be appreciated for his basketball skills than for his marketability.

      All things considered, this Hornets situation does look like the best situation for Lin. I think things look up for Lin from here. Of course, that’s not saying much, since there’s nowhere else to go but up this year. Best case and also a very likely scenario this year is to win the 6th Man award. So that’s what I’ll be rooting for. Hopefully, coach Cliff continues to talk to MDA about Lin throughout the season and plays Lin big minutes and gives Lin the freedom to make mistakes.

  • MrPingPong

    Last week, while lecturing in Changhua, his hometown, Papa Lin revealed some interesting stuffs about Lin’s FA. Kittyhead, a commentator at jlinportal.com, gave the following partial translation of the news posted in Taiwan:

    Papa Lin said “ When the free agency market opened this year, as the media reported, our family thought the Mavs would be the most possible Lin’s new landing spot. However, the Mavs didn’t show real sincerity to sign but only tried to hold Lin as their plan B while they were recruiting other big fish. Then the Hornets popped out all of sudden, showing their most sincerity to welcome Lin, and that touched Lin.” Papa Lin used the term “come from nowhere” to describe the Hornets recruiting action. Their family are all shocked at this and find out the Hornets pay so much attention to Lin.

    This explains Lin’s reply to one of his fans on Facebook:

    Lawrence Chun You really fucked the mavs over
    Jeremy Lin 林書豪 What you read from the media isnt always the full story

    • Thanks for sharing, MrPingPong! I heard Papa Lin compared the situation to Harvard vs. Stanford for Lin when Lin graduated from high school. Very interesting. I think the Lins see this as a big sign from their God. So I think Lin has high hopes for this season with the Hornets.

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