Hornets Starting Hairston AND Williams Causes More Problems than it Solves

The latest news from Charlotte Observer is that Cliff may go with the surprising starting unit of Walker, Batum (SG), PJ Hairston (SF), Al Jefferson and he’s still undecided between Zeller or Williams for the PF position. To me, if he goes with Williams over Zeller for PF, that’s making a big mistake even WORSE. The starting lineup of Walker/Batum/Hairston/Williams/Jefferson has too many players playing out of position and it doesn’t leave enough time for our stacked Power Forward position.

Before I delve deeper into why I think starting Hairston AND Williams is a mistake, I want to say that overall I think Cliff is a solid coach. To me, he’s the best coach Lin has had (and I’m including D’Antoni, who I’ve never been really high on). I know some Lin fans hesitate to question Cliff’s coaching, since he’s treated Lin so well so they don’t want to “rock the boat”. But since Cliff is clearly struggling with the decision of who to start and likely questioning himself, I don’t see questioning Cliff’s starting lineup as “rocking the boat” or any sign of disrespect towards Cliff. I think even after Cliff makes his decision, he’s going to continue to question whether or not he made the right decision.

So me questioning Cliff’s starting lineup is simply a way of exercising critical thinking as an observer of the game and bringing up issues that Cliff maybe wrestling with. It’s not at all about disrespecting coach Cliff. Just because I like Cliff, it doesn’t mean I’m going to blindly agree with everything he does. I’m someone who enjoys analyzing things, so naturally, I’m going to analyze and think critically about key decisions that are made by the coach, regardless of whether or not I support the coach overall. I want to be clear in stating that Jeremy Lin made the right decision when he decided to join the Hornets, so me questioning Cliff’s starting lineup doesn’t mean I’m questioning whether or not Hornets is the right team for Lin. Now that this caveat is out of the way, let’s get to some reasons why I think starting Hairston AND Williams is a big mistake.

If Cliff goes with Williams over Zeller, he has TWO guys in the starting lineup playing out of position: Batum and Williams. Also, we have three really good Power Forwards fighting for time off the bench: Zeller, Kaminsky and Hansborough. I think we need at least one true PF in the starting lineup, just because of the sheer strength the Hornets have in that position. Why wouldn’t you make sure you maximize your PF spot, since you’ve got a lot of talent in that position? It’s just insane to me that Cliff may even think not to have a true PF in the starting position, because he’s got so many of them he can put in that position. Why have Williams play out of position? This is made even more insane when you think about the fact that we lost MKG, who’s a Small Forward and need a solid Small Forward, which is what Batum is! To me, the obvious silver lining to MKG going down is that Batum (a big key for the Hornets) gets to go back to playing his natural position. So, instead of letting Batum go back to his natural position, you’re going to replace MKG with PJ Hairston and force Williams to play PF? To me, that’s a jumbled mess. I think its a big mistake to have one of your big key players (Batum) pay out of position.

Cliff’s reason for starting Hairston is that he thinks Hairston can be a defensive stopper. I think this is where Cliff has really confused himself. He’s still trying to hold onto last season’s Hornets strategy, rather than completely embracing the new look Hornets offense. This season’s Hornets isn’t going to win on defense, they’re going to win on their offense. Their defense just needs to be adequate. Missing MKG this season is totally different from missing MKG last season, so why get hung up on trying to find an MKG replacement by putting Hairston in there as a very poor man’s MKG? I think this is where Cliff is getting too cute and over thinking things. Being too smart for his own good, by trying to piece everything together like a puzzle.

With this insane lineup, of Walker/Batum/Hairston/Williams/Jefferson, you have a lot of talent on the bench and you have a lot of guys potentially playing out of position. With this lineup, I don’t even know what happens to the second unit. Does Lamb play SG or SF? Does Lin play SG or PG? If PG, then what happens to Brian Robberts? Is Kaminsky going to get much playing time? And Hansborough, who has been great in the preseason as a rebounding machine and somewhat of a rim protector, is not going to see the floor, which is unfortunate. With this unit, the only easy substitution is Hawes coming in for Jefferson. Everything else is a jumbled mess, since you got a lot of guys playing out of position. Why create so much havoc, simply because you want a poor man’s defensive stopper to replace missing MKG, which is probably the LEAST important issue for THIS new look Hornets team to solve?

I think coach is way over-thinking things. In my view, the rotation is very simple:

Starters: Walker/Lin/Batum/Zeller/Jefferson
Second Unit: Roberts/Lamb/Williams/Kaminsky/Hawes
Third string: Troy Daniels, Aaron Harrison, PJ Hairston, Tyler Hansborough

Another way you can look at the rotation is thus:

PG: Walker/Roberts/Lin
SG: Lin/Lamb/Daniels/Harrison
SF: Batum/Williams/Hairston
PF: Zeller/Kaminsky/Hansborough
C: Jefferson/Hawes

In this scenario, you only have ONE player who’s playing out of position: Jeremy Lin. And this player has shown that he can play shooting guard very well. To me, it’s more important to have your guys play in their natural position than probably anything else. Even superstars, like Carmelo Anthony, suffer when they’re forced to play out of position. I think playing out of position is probably the most detrimental thing to a player’s game. With Cliff’s projected starting unit, he’s got so many guys playing out of position, which is a huge mistake to me.

Hopefully, Coach Cliff will realize his mistake sooner rather than later. But it looks like no matter what Cliff seems to be adamant about Lin coming off the bench, which is a big mistake and a shame. As much respect as Cliff has for Lin’s game, he STILL doesn’t see Lin as the best player on the team. Because if he did, then Lin would be starting. In every example not involving Jeremy Lin, the best player on the team starts no matter what! So the fact that Cliff appears to be adamant about not starting Lin tells me that Cliff doesn’t see Lin as clearly the best player on the team. Don’t give me examples about Iguodala or Ginobili, because neither of these players are THE BEST players in their respective teams. If they were, they would be starting, no doubt about it!

Cliff is not starting Lin, because he likes Lin with Hawes, Lamb and Zeller. But Lin can play with anyone–especially now that Lin has a deadly jumper–so to me I think you want the unit of Walker/Lin/Batum on the floor as much as possible. So you should start that unit, not just close with that unit. There’s no question to me that Cliff will close games with Walker/Lin/Batum. With Lin coming off the bench, I expect him to get around 28 minutes or less, which is a HUGE mistake. Lin should be getting 34+ minutes for Hornets to maximize their potential. There is still a chance Lin may be able to break the 30 minute mark. If so, then one could argue that that may even be better for Lin than if Lin got to start, IF it means Lin will be the primary ball-handler when he’s on the floor. We’ll see how it all shakes out.

No matter what happens to Lin, though, I think this crazy starting unit with Hairston and Williams is a big mistake overall for causing too many guys to play out of position and not fully utilizing the position where the Hornets have the most talent: Power Forward. This crazy starting lineup is also going to suffer against good teams, since it’s not powerful enough offensively to make up for its defensive liability. With the starting lineup of Walker/Lin/Batum/Zeller or Kaminsky/Jefferson, your offense is going to overwhelm and more than make up for your defensive liabilities. By the way, I think this lineup is just as good or at least not much worse defensively as the crazy lineup that Cliff appears to be going with for defensive reasons. Again, I think Cliff has himself all turned around, because he’s too fixated on filling the whole that MKG left (trying to fit all the “old” pieces together, rather than embracing a completely new set of puzzle pieces if that makes any sense).

With this weak starting unit, Hornets are likely going to have to fight from behind against good teams. This unit is also going to struggle against big lineups. If I were Ciff, I would consider starting Hansborough whenever Hornets go up against really big lineups, since Hansborough is the only one on the team that comes close to being a rim protector and a rebounding machine. But Cliff appears to be very low on Hansborough, probably because Cliff likes to play four out and Hansborough can’t shoot. I think most of the time, that strategy is good, but against some teams, I think you can sacrifice spacing for rim protection and rebounding.

Again, I want to stress that I think Cliff is a fine coach overall. I just think he’s overthinking things and trying to be too cute and creative by playing too much with the lineups and asking too many players to play out of position. Hopefully, he’s open-minded enough to change course if it looks like this lineup causes more problems than it solves for the Hornets. From what I’ve observed of Cliff so far, he does seem to be pretty open-minded and willing to change course. But it will likely take him time since he’s going to want to keep the starting lineup the same for a while. If Cliff goes with the starting lineup of Hairston AND Williams for more than, say, 30 games, then I am no longer optimistic about the Hornets winning 45+ game and be seeded at number 5 in the East. I think with that crazy starting lineup for 30+ games, they’ll barely make the playoffs at the 8th spot. I just hope he realizes his mistake sooner, rather than later and changes course after 10 games. We’ll see.

Regardless of what Cliff does, if Lin doesn’t manage to break the 30 minute mark, which is a very difficult feat coming off the bench, then the Hornets are not going to maximize their potential. With Lin playing 34+ minutes a game, I see the Hornets getting the 4th seed in the East. This ONLY happens if Lin starts. As a result, I’m less optimistic about Hornets’s chances of making a lot of noise in the playoffs now that I know Cliff wants Lin coming off the bench. Sure, they’ll make the playoffs, but they’ll likely be in the 6th to 8th spot. IF Lin comes off the bench with 30+ minutes, then they’ll be in the 5th spot. But, of course, Hornets making the playoffs is already exceeding people’s expectations of them, so this is the problem that we face. No matter what the Hornets do, they’ll exceed very low expectations, so looking back no one will see that NOT starting Lin and NOT playing Lin 34+ minutes was a big mistake. They’ll think they made the right decision to have Lin be a spark off the bench.

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  • MrPingPong

    Well said, Philosopher!

    In retrospect, coach Cliff’s decision is not at all surprising. From the very beginning, he already announced the starting unit would comprise Kemba, Batum, MKG and Big Al, with the #4 undecided. He seemed intent to have Batum play at #2 even after MKG went down. And with Kemba and Batum firm at #1 and #2 respectively, there is no chance for Lin to start. It is apparent that Lin is not considered good enough to start in coach Cliff’s eyes.

    So our man Lin will have to come off the bench. 25+ minutes is about all the playing time a non-starter can get. We can only hope Lin will be allowed to play his game, the way he has been playing in the preseason. He will have to prove he belongs over and over again. Such is the theme of the Jeremy Lin story. One thing I do not like in those preseason games is Cliff playing Lin the full 4th quarter. That usage pattern is unhealthy and unsustainable for a marathon 82-game season for any NBA player.

    • Thanks, MrPingPong.

      You’ve pointed out one of the logistical issues with not starting and finishing games. This is why I think it’s easiest, logistically, to just have your starts finish games. If you have the guy off the bench finish games, then it is likely that he’ll have to play the ENTIRE 4th quarter, due to the logistics of substitutions. I think it’s a mistake to play any player entire quarters.

      Well, all I can hope for now is that Lin still can get 30+ minutes. If so, it won’t be too terrible. If not, then the Hornets won’t do as well as I expect. Simple as that. Your BEST PLAYER should be playing the most amount of minutes to maximize your team’s potential. Clearly this is not going to happen, because Cliff seems intent on bringing Lin off the bench no matter what. I don’t see this changing unless the Hornets look really awful for a pretty extended period of time with Batum at the 2. It’ll take a lot of convincing for Cliff to move away from the crazy idea of playing Batum at the 2. I think part of why he wants to do this is so MKG can seamlessly slide back into his position when he comes back. But, again, I think this is another way in which coach Cliff is being too cute.

      • MrPingPong

        Interesting thought about coach Cliff setting things up for MKG to slide back into his position when he comes back, Philosopher! It makes sense since MKG is considered as a lynchpin to the Hornets defense and cannot play out of position.

        The original starting unit, before MKG injury, has first and foremost three constant elements: Kemba at #1, MKG at #3 and Big Al at #5. This forces Batum to play out of position at #2. This lineup might work with MKG being such a stalwart defender. Coach Cliff seems intent to find a replacement for MKG at #3 and does not seem to entertain the idea of reconfiguring his starting lineup and rotations with seven new players.

        I agree with you, Philosopher, that the new team without MKG can win with more versatile offense and less effective defense. But that’s not what Coach Cliff is thinking when playing Batum at #2 (and very possibly Williams at #4). I do not know much about Coach Cliff but from what I’ve read, he seems to be rather inflexible and lacks creativity when it comes to offense. This new lineup is another indication of his weak point.

        It is now apparent that Coach Cliff has no plan for Lin to start but play alongside Kemba to close out games. After all, Lin knew that was his role when he signed with the Hornets. He signed because he believed he would get to play his brand of BB even in a backup role. Lin seemed to thoroughly enjoy playing his style of BB during the preseason. I can only hope he is allowed to play his game during the regular season. But playing the whole 4th quarter day in and day out is not good for any NBA player’s health. I am 100% confident that Lin will deliver if allowed to run the show even in a backup role. What I am not so sure about is his health with that kind of usage pattern.

        Letzzz Goooo JL7!

    • Chirico

      Thanks for the thorough analysis, Philosopher. My reaction to Lin not staring is simply this, “are you out of your mind?” How on earth you play your best back court player from bench? Is he not healthy or is he not experienced or is he new to this team?

      Otherwise, does it imply that FO or Mr. Jordan is the one who has strong influence on who starts regardless how good and versatile a player is? Maybe it all come down to the fact that your starters list purely base on salary rank?

      I simply agree the projection about Hornets performance this year. With Lin in the starting lineup, we are looking at the front seat of playoff, without Lin, back seat please. No Lin, sorry but next year maybe?

      • old & in the way

        Dear Chirico:

        I especially agree with your first two paragraphs. May I assume that in the third paragraph you mean “seed” rather than “seat?” With Lin in the starting line-up playing some point guard and playing 35 minutes a game Charlotte is perhaps the 3 or 5 seed. With the projected starting line-up Charlotte will be fighting for 7 or 8 at best. This whole scenario is becoming yet another travesty for Jeremy Lin. I shouldn’t be surprised I guess but I am a little bit. Still until we see how he is utilized in actual regular season games we don’t really know too much. Let’s hope for a miracle and being an atheist I do mean this figuratively.

        • old & in the way

          Fucking typos. I meant 3 or 4 seed and not as it is typed above…3 or 5.

        • Chirico

          Sure, dear old and in,

          When I said “seat” I meant “seed”. I’m just as disappointed as you are about Hornets and JLin situation.

          Having JLin starting is a win win situation for both Hornets and JLin. however what lies in front of us is a lose lose situation. It is that obvious, only those who hold onto certain confirmation bias would not see it.

  • old & in the way

    Dear JLintel & Mr. Ping-Pong:

    I wish I could share the optimism that you both seem to be conveying regarding Jeremy’s role with Charlotte and the possibility of the Hornets having a successful season, but unfortunately I can not. If Steve Clifford turns out to be as inflexible and uncreative as some of Jeremy’s former NBA coaches I shall be very disappointed but right now that seems to be where we are headed. I do agree with you though that during the preseason games Jeremy Lin was the Hornets best player and should be starting. It is a no-brainer. In what phase of the game is Kemba Walker a better player than Jeremy Lin? In no phase of the game that I can see is Walker better than Lin. I tried unsuccessfully to find stats on Charlotte’s preseason games but my guess is that he was their leading scorer and perhaps among the back court players for sure their best shooter by percentage of shots made. I couldn’t verify this but I do remember than of the six games he played he only had one game when he shot below 50% and he scored in double figures in every game. Any coach who is so set in his ways that he will ignore data is not in my view a good coach. I think we do have to wait for at least 10-15 games into the regular season to see how Jeremy is actually used to draw any real conclusions. But his exclusion from the starting line-up is in my view a very bad sign…a very bad omen if you will allow me to use that term. I don’t have time to go into more details right now other than to conclude that in my view it is impossible to know after just seven preseason games whether or not Jeremy has made a good decision by signing with Charlotte and whether or not Clifford is a good coach who will use Jeremy Lin in an intelligent and productive manner. I’m not say he won’t but I am saying that it is folly to conclude that he will based on what has transpired so far. And I will stand by my conviction that the only NBA coach that Jeremy has had so far who has used him wisely was Mike D’Antoni even if it was desperation that motivated him to do so.

    • pistolpete

      Hi Mr. Pingpong,
      The preseason stats are at:


      As you can see Lin led the team in scoring and assists. In addition to that his FG% was 57% and 3P% 47%. It’s insane that he’s not starting but I think you’re right that we have to wait and see what happens. However if he’s not playing around 30 minutes and finishing games the Hornets will have trouble making the playoffs. As I said at the beginning of this preseason I’m hoping for the best but I don’t trust the NBA in regards to Lin.

  • old & in the way

    Dear Pistol Pete:

    Thanks for the preseason stats. The above comment is mine and not Mr. Ping-Pong’s. I’m the one who was inquiring about preseason stats. Mr. Ping-Pong’s computer skills are much better than mine and he most likely would have been able to find them on his own. After a brief examination of these stats it is even clearer than I imagined that Jeremy has been the Hornets best player so far. Statistically he is a much stronger player than Kemba Walker and also a better defender. It is a travesty that he is not starting even if it were to mean that Walker comes off the bench. Jeremy deserves to be the starting point guard based on his preseason performances. It will be informative to see how he is used in the regular season games. But I, too, do not trust the NBA culture in general in regards to the proper utilization of Jeremy Lin and acknowledging his basketball skills in an unbiased manner. The NBA is a very racist culture apparently and unwilling to change any time soon no matter what. Only time will tell for sure what Jeremy’s fate may be in this league. Thanks again for the preseason stats and data.

    • If we look at the reality of the situation from the Hornets’s perspective, I do understand why they’re intent on keeping Lin on the bench. Now, I’m not sure if the decision to not start Lin is coming from Coach Cliff or the front office. But one thought is that Lin, at the moment, is a rental for the Hornets. He’s on a two year contract with the second year being a player option. So from a front office standpoint, it doesn’t make sense to let Lin start, because 1) Lin may chose to leave next season and 2) If he starts and starts putting up superstar numbers, it might be challenging for the Hornets to retain him, since he may get much better offers in the off-season (I don’t think this is a huge factor for Lin not starting, but it is a factor). So from that perspective, it totally makes sense that Lin isn’t starting.

      I think right now MKG, Batum, Walker and maybe Jefferson are their main guys, so they really want to turn Batum into a shooting guard, because MKG is a small forward. That’s why Cliff is so intent on keeping Batum at the 2 even though Batum’s natural position is at the 3 and has never played the 2 in his life, probably. Batum was their big acquisition in the summer and they have high hopes for him. They also brought him in to be a Shooting Guard. If they started Lin at SG,that really messes up their rotation for MKG. So I think that’s the main reason Lin’s not starting at SG. Because lets say they start Lin at SG, then next year Lin chooses to join another team, then they’ve essentially wasted one season not training Batum at the SG position. So I think Hornets not starting Lin are looking at the bigger picture. At this stage, they can’t risk integrating Lin too much into their starting lineup without having the confidence that Lin will stay with the Hornets next season.

      Because of MKG, Lin will not start at the SG position. So the only position left for Lin is the PG position. And, of course, due to the fact that Walker has just signed a contract extension with them that is much bigger than Lin’s, they can’t risk starting Lin over Walker and having Walker be discontent and ask to get traded. Because if this happens and Lin ends up not staying for whatever reason, they’re left with no starting point guards.

      I think from the Hornets’s perspective, it’s way too early to invest too much in Lin, since they have no idea if Lin will stay. Of course, from a basketball perspective, Lin should be starting, but, unfortunately, there are a lot more factors involved than just pure basketball.

      I think it’ll be really difficult for Lin to break into the starting lineup as long as Kemba Walker, Batum and MKG is on the team. So, unfortunately, if Lin wants to start, he’ll have to look for another team, which really sucks, because I do think Coach Cliff is a good coach. It’ll be hard for Lin to find a better coach, who also believes in Lin, since there aren’t many good coaches out there.

      In the meantime, if Lin can get 30+ minutes a game, that would be almost as good as starting and I think that’s enough minutes for Lin to impress and get other teams to look at Lin as a potential starter. If Lin gets around 25 minutes, that’s not enough time on the court and Lin will likely be looked at as a backup PG in the league, which is unfortunate.

      I think the only way Lin starts this season is if Walker or Batum get injured. Another scenario in which Lin starts is if Walker performs poorly AND Lin is putting up superstar numbers from the bench, making it clear to the front office that Lin is their starting PG of the future and they have a discussion with Lin and decide to start him late in the season and look to trade Walker in the off-season and retain Lin. The third and most unlikely scenario in which Lin starts is if Batum really struggles at the SG position and they realize that Batum is better utilized at the SF position. But then they’ll have to figure out what to do with MKG, so this is a highly unlikely scenario.

      Anyway, I do think Cliff knows how to use Lin in terms of letting Lin play loose and free and running plays for Lin off the ball, etc. So in that sense, Lin fans are still going to get to see Lin do his thing. Hopefully, he’ll get close to starter minutes as possible. I’m expecting that Lin will get around 28 minutes. If he breaks the 30 minute mark, I’d be very happy. If he gets only 25 minutes, I’d be very disappointed. I also expect Lin to close out all games that aren’t clear blowouts or what not. So, overall, it’s a much much better situation than Lin’s had since Linsanity. I’m sure we’ll see some Linsanity 2.0 this season, as well.

      So just sit back and enjoy this season and see how it all shakes out. Hopefully. Lin plays well enough to get very good offers, not just money-wise, but situation-wise. With Kemba/Batum/MKG on the Hornets, I don’t see a future for Lin with the Hornets, as much as I like the team and the coach, which sucks, because it’s hard to find a situation where you have a good coach and unselfish players.

      • MrPingPong

        Batum is on the last year of his contract. In a way, he is a one-year rental just like Lin, albeit a much more expensive one. If the Hornets want to entice Batum to stay on, they should try to make him happy by letting him play at his natural position, which is #3, now that MKG is out of the picture. By forcing Batum to play SG in the current starting lineup, chances are he will not do well and will be unhappy and will leave next year. My two cents…

        • Great points, MrPingPong! The thing is, Batum seems to be okay with SG, since he fancies himself a play-maker. Although Batum is unselfish and an okay passer, I wouldn’t really consider him a play-maker. Batum is a liability when he has to handle the ball too much. And SG are supposed to be comfortable handling the ball. Batum is not, so that’s why I think it’s a big mistake to play Batum at the 2. But I don’t think Batum sees this, yet, himself. I think he likes the idea of playing the 2. We’ll see how he feels once we’re 15 so games in. This is also something the Hornets need to monitor if they want to entice Batum to stay.

          Batum is also a “rental”, but at least when they brought in Batum, they had high hopes for Batum. So they’re trying to make things work with the idea of enticing Batum to stay by making him a number 1 or 2 option. At least that WAS the original plan and to a lot of extent it still is, since we’ve just started the regular season.

          They got Lin on the cheap, so Lin is more of a rental in the true intended meaning of the term. At least when they got Lin, they didn’t have too high of expectations of Lin. So I think to a large extent that’s still true from a front office perspective. I think the Front Office always takes more time to adjust, because they’re more focused on the long-term, bigger pictures. So they can’t change on a dime.

          I think Hornets Front Office is surprised how well Lin has done. So that may throw a wrinkle in their plans. Still, it’ll take a lot for them to see Lin as their future starting PG. Lin would have to put up close to superstar numbers from the bench and Kemba Walker has to perform pretty poorly for them to see Lin as their starting PG. They’d be more than happy to keep Lin as the future backup to Kemba, though. I think until things drastically change, the Front Office’s plan is to try and keep Lin as their future backup PG. Their 6th man. This is not the worst thing, because Iguodala won the MVP in last year’s finals as a 6th man. However, I think he may have been the only player from the bench to receive such an honor. Not sure if I’m right on that. All I’m saying is that Lin’s going to have to think long and hard this summer, once again. It’s a tough decision, because the situation overall in Hornets is pretty ideal. He’s got a good coach and unselfish teammates with a system that fits him well. Or does he risk it and see if he can find a starting job elsewhere?

          Anyway, we’ve got a ways to go until “the decision”. For now, I’ll just be looking to see if Lin is able to crack the 30 minute mark from the bench. If so, then that may be a sign that Cliff really likes Lin, but is hand cuffed by the front office. Of course, there are always other things at work behind the scenes that we don’t know about. So Lin cracking the 30 minute mark could also be meaningless, but at least it’ll give Lin almost the sufficient amount of minutes to put up impressive numbers. So regardless of the underlying reasons, it’ll be good for Lin and Hornets if Lin can crack the 30 minute mark from the bench. We’ll see.

      • pistolpete

        Great analysis and well said philosopher! My only hope this year is that Lin will perform well when he plays and contribute so much to wins that he will get more and more minutes of playing time. After all I believe their goal is to make the playoffs this year. That tanking the Lakers did last year must have been disheartening and a wasted year for the players.

        • Thanks, pistolpete! Yep, the Hornets are definitely not in tank mode so it’ll be fun to watch. Yep, hope the Hornets realize Lin’s importance as the season progresses.

      • Chirico

        If I’m not mistaken, Hornets FO and coach team originally planned to have Staring lineup like this:
        C: Jefferson
        PF: Willams
        SF: MKG
        SG: Batum
        PG: Walker

        This lineup is leaning towards strong defense while maintaining a fairly ok offense. Unfortunately we didn’t have enough games to see how effective this is due to MKG injured in the first preseason game. So, Hornets had no choice to try a few lineups as we saw them in the preseason game. One of the the lineup seemed to stood up was this:

        C: Jefferson
        PF: Willams or Zeller
        SF: Batum
        SG: Lin
        PG: Walke

        This lineup surprised many folks with overwhelming firepower with decent defense and had PROVED a point that Jintel has mentioned Hornets this season needs to rely on offense instead of defense.

        “The best defense is offense”

        There is a school of thought about JLin should not play with the first unit because guys like Jefferson and Walker and Batum will take a way too much ball handling job but that was not what we saw with this lineup.

        Another question I’d like to ask is If Batum plays very well then how can FO make sure they got Batum sign long term contract?

        I see this lineup with Lin starting was not the plan but it is the best starting lineup Hornets and the fast lane to the future if they want to get a chance be eastern conf contender.

        • That’s correct, Chirico! As of now, Hornets are still reluctant to completely embrace a new look team, so that’s why they’ve basically kept their starting lineup the same, despite MKG going down. Things will have to get really bad for them to change course, unfortunately.

  • realm9thfeb

    I’m fully agreed your point of view, Lin should start no matter. However as a die hard Lin fan for the past four years, I’ve noticed one crucial fact that might stop Lin to be successful , were the bias referees ,we have seen Lin been caught in the bogus foul calls out of sudden from no where, quickly gather 2 foul in short time, especially the one he assign to guard is a star player or a prominent team, just take this two preseason games as example, Shanghai global game, Lin gathered two fouls early and that’s it. Another on when vs Bulls, he was guarding Jimmy Butler and he collected some stupid call’s really fast. I believe Cliff knows Lin’s game well from the way he freely allowed Lin to play his style of BB in all preseason games, so we also need to consider the politics way of thinking from Cliff part, he might be preventing Lin from getting foul trouble early, if the opposite team SG is someone like D.Wade, Jimmy Butler or James Harden…just some of my thoughts.

    • Thanks for the coment, realm9! It’s definitely true that Lin has had biased calls and non-calls by the refs. One thing I did notice is that so far at least it hasn’t been as horrible as in the past. We’ll see what happens in the regular season. But, yeah, biased ref calls/non-calls can really be frustrating for a player and it can have a significant impact on a player’s minutes. Also, I’ve heard that Coach Clifford hates players who foul. So if Lin gets called for fouling too much, that will negatively impact his playing time.

  • Pingback: Why Not Starting Jeremy Lin Makes Sense from Hornets’s Front Office’s POV | Jeremy Lintel()

  • MrPingPong

    Reinis Lacis, a young Latvian sports writer who has followed the Hornets for quite some time, does not have much faith in PJ’s defensive skill.


    May PJ be has gotten much better somehow! 😉

    I recommend reading Lacis’ latest article on the Hornets preseason games:


    • Thanks, MrPingPong, for the links! I also don’t have much faith in PJ’s defense and even if he was pretty good at defense, his added defense doesn’t warrant starting him and messing up all the rotations. There’s really no clear basketball reasons for this insane lineup that Cliff has. The only real reasons are non-basketball ones.

      • MrPingPong

        Nor does any longtime Hornets fan have any faith in PJ’s shooting either! 😉
        In the NBA, all non-basketball reasons are by definition basketball reasons! 😉

        • Haha. The other thing I noticed is that wherever Lin goes, he faces a lot of non-basketball related obstacles for a guy who plays basketball.

  • Chirico

    Thanks to the author at this web site. We have Chinese translation version of this article!


    • chirico

      Oops, not so fast, it is just a reaction to this article. Again, he thought its best for Lin to come off bench, come off the bench due to first unit is slow and scoring ability is not as strong as second unit. Hmmm… Then why not turn this whole thing around!!? Let the second unit be the first unit?