There’s a Good Chance Jeremy Lin Starts due to Injury to Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

As we all know by now, MKG could be out for the season and the season hasn’t even started yet! I think he worked really hard over the summer to take his game to the next level. So that really sucks that he didn’t get a chance to really showcase the work he put in in the off-season. Needless to say, the injury is also a major blow defensively for the Hornets. So Hornets will really have to excel offensively in order to have a good chance at making the playoffs. I felt certain the Hornets would make the playoffs and be somewhere in the sixth seed or better, before the MKG injury. Now, I’ll have to see how they adjust. Defense, obviously, is a concern, but with MKG out of the lineup, I’m also concerned about the Hornets’s depth, because I think Coach Clifford may be considering sliding Lin into the starting shooting guard position (more on this later) so not having Lin in the second unit could hurt depth.

Thus, I’ll have to see how Coach Clifford adjusts. I will need to see a few regular season games to gauge whether or not the Hornets still have a shot at making the playoffs. My knee jerk reaction is to say that they’ll still make the playoffs, since I think they will have a solid offense that’s good enough to make the playoffs in the weak East. Also, their unselfish play will be key. So far, they’ve played pretty unselfishly and I think losing one of their key players will only help them bond together and continue to play unselfishly. Who knows, they may even be better than they would have been with MKG in the lineup, since MKG is not really an offensive threat and their spacing on the offensive end could improve without MKG.

Basically, with MKG out, it’s a total wild card for me. This team could be worse, about the same or, dare I say, better. I know the conventional thinking (which is probably right in this situation) is to assume that they’ll be worse, but this Hornets team is a totally different team than the one last season. The injury to MKG means that another key Hornets player, Batum, gets to play in his natural position and it could mean more minutes for another key player, Jeremy Lin. So, I know it’s blasphemy, but this is why we shouldn’t rule out the crazy notion that the Hornets may actually be better without MKG. This Hornets team is going to win with their offense more so than with their defense, which is the complete opposite of the team last season, so missing MKG this season is different than missing MKG last season. This is why it’s hard to say for sure what affect MKG’s absence will have.

Coach Clifford had some interesting things to say in his interview after practice today with regard to adjustments they’ll have to make in MKG’s absense. In particular, he doesn’t plan on starting Jeremy Lamb. He likes Lamb off the bench, because he says that if Lamb starts, then that causes a lot of guys to have to play out of their natural positions. Also, he said that Batum will play more at the Small Forward position, which is really where Batum belongs. So I like really like hearing that. Not sure how you all feel, but I never really liked Batum at Shooting Guard. So because of these two statements by Coach Clifford, I think there’s a good chance that Lin will start at Shooting Guard. Of course, as a Lin fan, I am all for Lin starting, but my main concern is who will be the primary play maker for the second unit? Of course, Lin will be playing some PG with the second unit, but Lin can’t play all 48 minutes, so that’s why I have questions about the Hornets’s depth as a result of the MKG injury. That being said, in the preseason game vs. Miami Heat, Lin played off the ball pretty much the entire game, so maybe things will work out fine with Lin in the starting lineup, since he ended up playing shooting guard with the second unit anyway (which didn’t make any sense to me, by the way, but I’m hoping it’s because Clifford was just testing things out). Anyway, I’m sure these are some of the questions that Coach Clifford is wrestling with. This is why he hasn’t made up his mind, yet, on the starting lineup.

I think at the moment, Coach Clifford really is open to a lot of different lineups. The injury to MKG opens up a lot of different options. So, like he said in the practice interview, he’ll be testing out different lineups in practice and in pre-season games to see who plays with who best. I really like hearing that, because this means that he’s actually trying to find the best fit, rather than forcing his own agenda or own structure without really looking at how things actually work in practice. I’ll put money that Lin will start in at least one, if not, both games in China. I think Coach Clifford is excited to see the Lin/Walker combo so what better place to test that lineup out than in China? And if the combo looks good in China, there’s a very good chance Lin will be the starting shooting guard. And if Lin starts at shooting guard, then expect Lin to likely get the most minutes of any Hornets players this year, because I think Clifford will also try to get as much PG minutes with Lin and the second unit as he can get away with, without wearing Lin down. As a result, Lin will start and also play a good amount with the second unit.

Coach Clifford also kept reiterating in the practice interview that other players will have opportunities to emerge. Of course, a lot of coaches say things like this whenever a key player goes down. But I can tell from the way Coach Clifford kept reiterating it that he wasn’t just paying lip service. And I think the player that he has in mind to emerge is Jeremy Lin. This is another reason why I think Coach Clifford is really seriously considering starting Jeremy Lin at shooting guard. Later in the interview, Clifford said this: “I really believe that we have guys who, with more opportunity, are going to show people that they’re a lot better than they’ve played so far.” I think the player that Clifford is thinking of when he made this statement is Jeremy Lin. The reason is that I think Clifford really believes in Lin due to his connection with D’Antoni and his assistant coach Stephen Silas (who coached Lin when Lin was with the Warriors).

Regardless of whether or not Lin starts, Lin will definitely close out games now that MKG is likely out for the season. Of that, I have no doubt! So for Lin fans, this is the silver lining, although, it sucks that a player had to go down for this to happen.

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  • MrPingPong

    Well Philosopher, you’ve said everything I wanted to say in an earlier post, except better! 🙂

    It really sucks for anybody to get a season ending injury like MKG. From what I’ve read, MKG was the best defensive Hornets and was the main reason why the Hornets’ defense was ranked in the top ten last season. So yeah, it really sucks for the Hornets to lose MKG for the season. So let’s all wish MKG a speedy recovery. MKG is still very young and will recover well, I am sure.

    On a related note, it seems like MKG and Lin were hitting off really well with all the tweeting about the security guard incident. So, it also sucks not to see Lin and MKG on the court together.

    • Haha, MrPingPong!

      It definitely sucks to lose MKG, because it sucks for any player to miss an entire season due to injury. I know I’m probably alone in this, but there is a crazy chance that the Hornets could be even better without MKG. I’m always looking at things from a lot of different angles. To me, this team is basically the complete opposite of last year’s Hornets team. This year’s team is all about offense, as can be seen from all the assists and three point attempts in the first two preseason games. To me, the positives that come out of MKG’s absence is better spacing, Batum getting to play in his more natural position at Small Foward, and Lin getting potentially significantly more minutes. Batum and Lin are both key new additions to the team, who epitomize what THIS Hornets team is all about: team ball, good spacing, high BBall IQ, etc. So allowing Batum to play in his more natural position and allowing both Lin, Batum and the entire team more space to operate could be a very good thing that may even outweigh having MKG in the lineup for THIS Hornets squad. And if you’re a big believer in Lin’s ability to win games, then significantly more minutes for Lin could also outweigh having MKG in the lineup.

      I know Charlotte Hornets fans feel like the season is over, but I think it’s because they’ve lived with last year’s Hornets team for too long and so they’re still psychologically stuck in that mindset, even though, intellectually, they know this is a completely different team than the one last season. Emotionally, they’re still stuck in the past, so they’re unable to see the potential benefits from MKG’s absence.

      Of course, Hornets defense is going to pretty much suck this season. They’ll just have to make up for it with their offense. But even with MKG, I think the Hornets defense is still going to suffer, because they have no interior presence. No rim protectors. So I guess the question you have to think about is, how much does MKG’s value to the team defensively outweigh how he could potentially hurt THIS Hornets team offensively. In other words, is THIS Hornet’s team’s defense with MKG going to win more games than THIS Hornet’s team’s offense without MKG? That’s a theoretical question that we’ll probably never find an answer to, so we’ll all have to come to our own subjective conclusions.

    • “MKG and Lin were hitting off really well” i don’t know whether it’s already been mentioned but both these grown adults have this weird fascination with lion king.

      • ok and kemba sounds a lot like kimba.

        • MrPingPong

          Ha ha!
          We need you around here Etane!

      • MrPingPong

        Etane, where have you been? ‘Good to hear from you! 🙂
        So, is it gonna be “Rush Hour Redux?”

        • i have no dynamic duo expectations. it’s going to be a 5 player team if everything goes well.

          i’ve been at etane.com where else = P

          • MrPingPong

            You mean etane.net…
            😉

      • Good to hear from you, etane! Been too long. Didn’t know MKG is also into Lion King. Haha. Hope to see you around here again.

        • i read that mkg watches lion king on a weekly basis. it’s on his wiki page.

  • MrPingPong

    I couldn’t agree with you more, Philosopher! 😉

    As a forever optimistic crazy Lin fan, I’d say the Hornets will be a Cinderella team this season. Hornets fans just don’t know how good Lin really is, that’s all. Lin will gel with his teammates and play team ball! Team ball will prevail!

    And yes, you are right about the lack of rim protection. Examining the shot chars of both games, the Magic and the Heat scored the majority of their points inside the paint. Coach Clifford acknowledged this problem in his Heat post game interview and vouched to do better. Good team defense will prevail!

    • ashley

      It’s great to think that Lin could be starting. If Lin could start, I’d feel it could be viewed as some compensation for his unfairly low salary. We know Lin has the talent of a star player and he plays just as hard or even harder than all those stars. We also know the coach expects quite a lot from Lin. So how could an organization wants to use him that much while being only willing to pay him that little? I’d say such an unfair offer compromises the image of an organization, making one wonder what’s wrong with its manager or owner.

      OK, that’s me venting out about Lin’s pay. Back to reality… If MKG is a big defender, a simple, direct thought would be they would get someone bigger than Lin to fill the role. But if they weigh the pros and cons of having or not having MKG, as Mr. Philosopher has pointed out, Lin might have the chance. Another problem is they need Lin to lead the second unit, and that’s something they need to work out. Anyway, if Lin could start, it would be a dream come true for our boy, and his tenure with the Hornets–salary aside–would be much more meaningful.

      • Since Lin came off of a dismal season in LA, it’s not surprising to me that he is paid so low. I was expecting it, but what is good is that the contract is a player option in the second year. So I’m not too worried about his salary. If he does well this season, he’ll be able to get a significantly better contract next season.

        Batum is going to be replacing MKG at Small Forward and the idea is that Lin will replace Batum at shooting guard if Lin starts. I think Lin is actually better at defending bigger guys than smaller guys.Lin struggles when he has to defend a mouse like Nate Robinson or Isaiah Thomas, so SG is actually a better position for Lin defensively than PG.

    • Chirico

      I want to repeat this after you. Mrpingpong. They don’t know how good JLin really is.
      Says it all. Now we have the right coach, right (or close) roaster, the only thing lies before us is if JLin is put to the “right” position. Only time will tell. Let the story unfolds.

      • MrPingPong

        Nor do they know how popular Lin is over there in China and Taiwan, and how big and genuine a heart he has, Chirico.

        CP3, DJ and what’s his name will try to outshine/outdo Lin, but little do they know Lin will be playing on his home turf! Ha ha!

        The big question is whether or not coach Clifford will start Lin along side Kemba. My Ouija board says he will. He’s got nothing to lose but everything to gain! After all, these are just exhibition games to showcase the NBA!

  • pistolpete

    In order for Jeremy to start the Hornets need someone else capable of backing up Kemba at point guard. Brian Roberts played well last game and that bodes well for Jeremy’s chances. Hopefully Brian will continue his good play and Jeremy will start at SG.
    After the last 3 years and the unfair treatment he’s received it’s hard for me to believe the coach will do the right thing but I still have hope. I guess “hope springs eternal from the human breast” (or something like that).

    • MrPingPong

      Good to hear from you Pistol!

      Brian Roberts was in the zone in the last game. Lin sensed that and kept deferring to him, I think. Can Brian keep this up? I think by setting specific goals for him and giving him meaningful minutes to achieve the goals, the coach will instill more confidence in him and help him succeed.

      Switching back to Lin, here is a video of Kemba, Lin and Lamb on the court at the same time:

      https://youtu.be/9s3VejKNdP4

      It will not surprise me if coach Clifford will experiment with the Kemba/Lin/Batum combo in the upcoming games in China. Whatever rotation coach Clifford cooks up, I hope it will feature Lin closing out in every game.

    • So far, it looks as if Coach Clifford is different from Lin’s previous coaches, because I of Cliff’s connection with D’Antoni. So I think Cliff will play Lin the right way. At least that’s my hope. We’ll see.

      The ideal scenario for me is for Lin to start and share some playmaking duties with Walker and then be the primary playmaker for the second unit. I think the way the Hornets should look at it is that they have two starting combo guards in Walker and Lin. Walker, himself, is more of a scorer than a distributor, anyhow, so I think this starting combo guard idea should work.

      • pi

        If coach Clifford is smart and wants to win (contrary to Byron Scott) he will let Lin play at least 30 min. and finish games. Jeremy is at his best in the 4th quarter and only someone blinded for some reason to his talent (McHale) or trying to lose (Scott) would sit him in crunch time. So let’s hope for a break through year for Jeremy to show case the talent that we all know is there. I’m psyched!

  • Chirico

    A video from King gryph. I was laughing all the way.
    http://youtu.be/QHPztbkwblQ
    Linsanity is back.

    Only on nba2k. 🙂

  • Chirico

    JFYI. Philosopher.

    Your article is referred by some of the famous Chinese forums at Baidu.
    See:
    http://tieba.baidu.com/p/4089449448?lp=5028&mo_device=1&is_jingpost=0

    This i don’t have to translate.

    I just want pass this you this information that JLin is a famous figure in Chinese community and the arrival of hornets this year is a huge phenomenon. It’s the first time JLin is playing in China and certainly It’s going to be linsane if you are at the stadiums that Hornets and other NBA teams will play. It’s going to be exciting this weekend.

    • Thanks for passing along the info, Chirico! I had no idea my article was shared in a Chinese forum. That’s awesome! It looks like someone went through the trouble of translating it, as well. That’s great.

      You wouldn’t happen to be gong to the exhibition game(s) in China would you? If so, that would be quite an experience. I look forward to watching it via live stream on my TV.

      • MrPingPong

        You are famous now, Philosopher! 😉

      • Chirico

        Yup, definitely he is getting popular. Mrpingpong.

        Unfortunately, I don’t live in Asia. So I will just observe their China tour. However, I believed this is a good thing happened to JLin at the right time.

        1. Micheal Jordan is visiting China this time as well. This is his second time visiting China in 11 years. And the first time visiting as a bball team owner. Because of that, he is going to feel the super power of linsanity!
        2. JLin will definitely be the super star that we all know what really is. As least in these tow games. Hopefully he benefit from such popularity and it eventually helps build higher respect from other Hornets players and coach teams to front office.
        3. Coach Clifford may try to make him the primary play maker in these to games and make JLin prove to the teams that he is the real deal and rely more on him when season begins.

        • Chirico

          Oops, lots of typos. Sorry

  • Looks like Jeremy Lamb will be starting at SG in the upcoming game, but coach Clifford did say that there’s potential Lin could start at SG, but this is after he was asked specifically about this by a Chinese reporter.

    I’m surprised they didn’t take this opportunity to start Lin in China. We’ll see if they start Lin in the second game in China. If Cliff wants to see how Lin plays with walker and test Lin in the starting lineup, then I would think this trip to China is a great opportunity to do so. So I’m really surprised that Lin isn’t starting.

    • MrPingPong

      Me too, I’m surprised to hear that coach Clifford was going to start Kemba and Lamb in the back court. But then who knows he might have “lied” and will start Kemba and Lin come game time! 😉

      I’m on the road and currently in Atlanta right now. I will probably miss the Shenzhen game. I hope Lin will be allowed to play freely and shine tonight!

      Super Saiyan Lin, letzzzzz buzzzz!

      • ashley

        I’ve read about that but I’m not a bit surprised–I probably had been pessimistically prepared. It could be the coach thinking it’s more important Lin lead the second unit and they need to try it more. It had been clearly expressed by the Hornet’s manager that they wanted Lin to come off the bench, and it’s probably good enough for the Hornets. We’ve heard that they might try having Kemba and Lin play at the same time, which has given us fans some hope. But I wonder in the coach’s mind, is it absolutely (much) better or necessary for the team to do that, as some basketball-savvy Lin fans believe? Is it something urgent enough for the coach to try it out in the preseason or the beginning of the season? Of course, it’d be great–and I’d be so grateful–if the coach tries it out granting us and Chinese fans the biggest satisfaction, even though that may not be their most prioritized strategy. After all, it can boil down to just such a simple question: Since they’re playing in China, what’s wrong and how difficult it can be to have Lin, the fan favorite and a well-deserving starter, start the game?

    • Pistolpete

      Boo to Clifford. Here we go again. After Lamb shoots 25% he’ll try somebody else – probably not Lin though.

      • MrPingPong

        Yeah, boo!
        I don’t know what Coach Cliff is thinking.
        It’s an exhibition game after all!

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