Why Not Starting Jeremy Lin Makes Sense from Hornets’s Front Office’s POV

The basketball reasons given for not starting Jeremy Lin doesn’t hold water for me, however, when you look at the situation from Hornets’s front office, it makes sense why Hornets appear to be adamant about not starting Lin.

BASKETBALL REASONS FOR NOT STARTING LIN DON’T HOLD UP UNDER SCRUTINY

Some of the basketball reasons for not starting Lin are well-meaning, but they just don’t hold up under scrutiny–especially if you’re a close observer of Jeremy Lin and really understand what he brings to the table. The typical reasons given for not starting Lin is that he is needed to run the second unit, both Lin and Kemba need the ball in their hands, you’d rather have Lin play PG than SG, Lin can be the spark off the bench, Lin may have trouble matching up against SGs, Lin meshes better with the second unit, etc.

If you’re a close observer of Lin, then it actually makes less sense for Lin to come off the bench this season than in previous seasons for a number of reasons. I’ll just highlight a few here:

  • Unlike Lin’s previous teams, the Hornets are deep. Even without Lin, the Hornets’s 2nd unit can compete against most 2nd units in the league, whereas without Lin, the Hornets’s 1st unit is pretty weak and will likely struggle against most 1st units in the league. So Lin is actually needed more on the 1st unit than on the 2nd unit.
  • Unlike Lin’s previous teams, the Hornets have a lot of unselfish players and skilled passers. Thus, Lin isn’t needed as much to run the second unit, since you’ve got a lot of guys on the 2nd unit (Hawes, Kaminsky, Roberts, Zeller, etc.) who are pretty skilled passers and willing to share the ball.
  • Unlike Lin’s previous teams the starting guard in the Hornets is not an egomaniac, so Lin can mesh better with Kemba Walker than with any of Lin’s previous starting back court mates. Kemba and Lin have shown to be pretty effective together on the court in the limited time they’ve spent together in the preseason. So there is not much of a need to keep them in different units. In fact, they may be even better off playing together, because they each can benefit from the defense keying in on one of them.
  • After really working on his shooting and SG skills for several seasons, Lin is now more ready than ever to excel at the SG position. Lin’s got a deadly jumper and can play off the ball now more than ever. As a result, Lin doesn’t need the ball in his hands as much as he did in the past in order to succeed. Also, Lin now has a coach who will actually run plays for him off the ball as a SG.
  • Lin is actually better at guarding bigger players than small PGs, like Nate Robinson. So Lin might actually match up better, from a defensive standpoint, against opposing shooting guards. So it wouldn’t be too much of a match up issue to start Lin at SG.
  • Lin coming off the bench does not guarantee that he’ll play PG. In fact, it’s almost guaranteed that he’ll be sharing ball handling duties with Brian Roberts and, more likely, Brian Roberts will be the one handling the ball more of the time, since Lin is more skilled at the SG position. So Lin will likely be coming off the bench sharing ball-handling duties with a backup PG.
  • Lin does appear to have good chemistry with Zeller and Hawes, but that’s probably because he’s had a lot of practices with them. Lin can basically mesh with a lot of players and is someone who can create instant chemistry. He showed that he could do this during Linsanity when he got a group of guys he hadn’t even practiced with to sing in unison on the court. So Lin basically meshes with any players, no need to relegate him to the bench because you think he fits better with the bench unit. If he had more practices with the starters, he’d fit just as well. Also, in the limited run with Walker/Lin/Batum, Lin has shown to mesh well with those guys even though he hasn’t had much practices with them.
  • Of course, Lin will be a spark off the bench, but ANY top player on your team can be a spark off the bench. Does that mean it makes basketball sense to bring your best player off the bench, just because you need a spark off the bench? In previous teams, Lin was not CLEARLY the number one player on the team, but on this Hornets team, Lin is, so the idea of bringing Lin (the Hornets’s best player) off the bench is absurd from a basketball standpoint. There are no examples of this in the league, because it is so insane. Yet, that’s exactly what the Hornets are doing, because it’s not for basketball reasons.

There are a host of reasons why it doesn’t make basketball sense to bring Lin off the bench. So why are the Hornets doing it? Well, I think it’s because there are legitimate non-basketball reasons to not start Lin from a front office standpoint.

NON-BASKETBALL REASONS WHY IT MAKES SENSE NOT TO START JEREMY LIN

Before I begin, let me clarify a little what I mean by the term “front office”. I’m using the term as a short hand for long-term, bigger picture, team strategies. So I’m not necessarily referring to any individuals in the front office. I’m also including the coaching staff when I use the term “front office”. So I don’t necessarily think that someone from the front office, like Michael Jordan, is coming to Coach Clifford and telling him specifically who to start, etc. I think there is somewhat of a separation between the front office and the coaching staff and the front office doesn’t micromanage what the coach does. It’s more about big picture strategies that the coach and the front office has agreed upon in, say the off-season, and the coach is free to implement that big picture strategy how he sees fit. Not sure if all of that makes sense. Hopefully, it’ll become clearer once I delve into the non-basketball reasons why it makes sense for Hornets not to start Lin from the point of view of the “front office”.

Despite what Jordan said in order to play up to the Chinese fans, Batum was the Hornets’s biggest acquisition over the summer from a front office perspective. He was the one that got the big contract and was promised a much bigger role. Batum is on a one-year contract, but the Hornets, as of now, want to entice Batum to stay. This is one of the reasons why they tell him that he’ll be a number 1 or 2 option. They’re hoping that a bigger role on their team is what is going to entice Batum to stick around. So Batum is someone the front office sees as a core guy for the Hornets’s future. The wrinkle is that Batum’s natural position is Small Forward, which is the same position that Hornets’s star Michael Kidd-Gilchrist plays. THIS is the main reason why Coach Clifford has been so adamant about playing Batum at the shooting guard position, a position that Batum has likely never played in his entire life.

From a basketball standpoint, when MKG went down, that was the perfect opportunity to have Batum essentially replace MKG and go back to his natural position at the 3. But that’s not happening, because the Hornets want to make sure that they train Batum at the 2 so that Batum and MKG can both start once MKG comes back. This is one of the reasons the Coach Cliff is likely going with the insane starting unit of Walker/Batum/Hairston/Williams/Jefferson. Since Batum is more skilled at passing and shooting than MKG, it makes more sense to force Batum to play the 2 than MKG. The problem is, Batum is not going to excel at Shooting Guard. He may be an okay passer and a good shooter, but Batum gets into trouble when he has to handle the ball too much. As a shooting guard, you need to be comfortable handling the ball and Batum isn’t. At least not at the moment and I don’t see this changing anytime soon. So the Hornets have Batum playing off position for non-basketball reasons.

The Hornets are gambling by playing Batum off position, because Batum may come to realize at the end of the season that he prefers to play his natural position at the 3 and decides to move on from the Hornets next season. So that’s something that the Hornets front office need to continue to monitor to make sure that Batum is not getting too frustrated playing off-position. I think right now, Batum relishes the challenge, because he fancies himself a play-maker. But I think Batum will soon realize that he’s better off going back to his natural position at Small Forward.

So why am I going on and on about Batum? This is a Lin blog, isn’t it? Well, I think the key reason why Lin isn’t starting is that they want Batum at the 2 so MKG can slide right back into the 3 once he gets back. The Hornets are hoping that by that time, Batum has acclimated into his new role at the 2 so that they can keep both Batum and MKG as their starters of the future.

From the perspective of the front office, Jeremy Lin is a cheap rental. He’s on a two year contract with the second being a player option. Hornets need a back up PG and they saw great potential in Lin to be a very good back up PG, so that’s why they signed Lin. I think the Hornets are surprised how well Lin has done in the pre-season. I don’t think it’s something they had expected or anticpated, despite what Jordan said about Lin being potentially their biggest acquisition in order to please Chinese fans. I think Lin playing so well and showing that he was clearly the best Hornets in the preseason, puts a bit of a wrinkle in the front office’s plans. But it takes time for the front office to adjust to new information, because they’re more focused on the long-term, bigger picture so it’s harder for them to turn on a dime.

From the perspective of the Front Office, it doesn’t make sense for Lin to start, because they need Batum to start at the 2 in order to accommodate MKG, their other star. Also, Lin is a player option next year, so it doesn’t make sense to integrate Lin into the starting lineup so much this year, since he may not stick around. Another small factor for Lin not starting is that the Hornets don’t want Lin putting up superstar numbers, making it even more challenging to keep him. I don’t think this is a big factor, though. The biggest factor is that they need Batum at the 2 and there’s no way they would risk starting Lin over Kemba at this stage, since Kemba may be disgruntled and look to get traded. If Lin also decides to leave, the Hornets are then left with no starting-caliber PGs on the team.

So that’s the real reason, to me, why Lin likely will never start for the Hornets if they keep the unit of Kemba/Batum/MKG in tact as their future core.

SCENARIOS IN WHICH JEREMY LIN STARTS

Here are the only scenarios in which Jeremy Lin starts this season. Before I lay these scenarios out, I want to be clear that I don’t wish ill on any of Lin’s teammates. I’m just laying out scenarios for the sake of discussion, not as wishful thinking or anything like that:

  • If Kemba gets injured, Lin definitely starts.
  • If Batum gets injured, Lin very likely starts alongside Kemba.
  • An pretty unlikely scenario in which Lin starts is if Kemba performs very poorly and Lin is putting up superstar numbers from the bench. This is a pretty unlikely scenario, because I don’t anticipate Kemba suddenly having a really awful season. In this scenario, the contrast between Lin and Kemba have to be pretty drastic. Lin can’t just be seen as better than Kemba, he needs to be drastically better than Kemba and I just don’t see that happening. But if it does happen, then this is how it’ll going to go down. The front office will have a discussion with Lin to gauge his level of interest of staying on with the team as their starting PG of the future. Once they are very confident that Lin plans to stick around and be their starting PG of the future, then Lin will start in place of Kemba and Hornets will look to trade Kemba since Kemba won’t be happy being a backup PG.
  • A highly unlikely scenario in which Lin starts is if Batum really struggles at the SG position and they realize that it’s not going to work out with Batum at the 2. This is a highly unlikely scenario, because the Hornets really need Batum to work out at the 2 in order to accommodate MKG and keep their Kemba/Batum/MKG starting unit of the future in tact. So it would have to look really bad for the Hornets to admit defeat. But if they do accept defeat, then they’ll start Lin and figure that Batum may not stick around next season anyhow.

So the likelihood of Lin starting this season is not looking very good, even if Lin continues to show that he’s the best Hornets player, because the real reasons Lin isn’t starting have nothing to do with basketball or winning games. Sure, the Hornets want to win games, but they also want to keep their big-picture strategy of keeping Walker/Batum/MKG as their starting future core. So Coach Clifford’s task is to find ways to win as many games as possible while maintaining this overall big-picture strategy.

A somewhat likely scenario in which Lin can become a starter alongside Kemba next season is if Batum decides to move onto another team and Lin has really impressed by putting up near superstar stats from the bench. This is a somewhat likely scenario, because I think Batum will realize at the end of the season that he really is better off playing his natural position. So even if Lin doesn’t start this season, there is a chance Lin may still become a starter, but it will only happen if either Kemba or Batum are no longer on the team, unfortunately. Another scenario that is highly unlikely is that they trade MKG and keep Batum. In this scenario, Batum goes back to his natural position next season at the 3 and Lin starts at the 2. But I don’t see the Hornets wanting to trade MKG at all. So this is a highly unlikely scenario.

As for this season, the best scenario for Lin is that he achieves the nearly impossible feat of breaking the 30-minute mark from the bench. I have no doubt that Lin will close out nearly all if not all the games that aren’t blow outs. So I’m not worried about that. But, to me, the fate of the Hornets hinges on how many minutes Lin manages to get off the bench. If Lin gets around 25 minutes, the Hornets are fighting for the 7th or 8th spot. If Lin gets 28 minutes, the Hornets are looking at a 6th seed. If Lin breaks the 30-minute mark off the bench, then the Hornets have a shot at the 5th spot.

Jeremy Lin is likely going to have another tough decision ahead of him in the off-season. Does he stay with a team of unselfish players and a good coach and be the 6th man or does he look for a starting job elsewhere? It’s a tough call. Being the 6th man for a group of unselfish players and one of the few coaches in the league who understands your game might not be a bad thing, because it may still give you opportunities to shine. I mean, Iguodala did manage to win Finals MVP last year from the bench. But he was the only true season-long reserve to win such an honor. Technically, there have been others in the past who have won Finals MVP off the bench, but they include names like Larry Bird, James Worthy, Joe Dumars, Shaquille O’Neal, and Magic Johnson. These guys weren’t really true reserves in that they did not spend the ENTIRE SEASON coming off the bench. Thus, Igoudala is really the only true reserve who has managed such a high honor. So starting is still generally where you want to be as a star player if you want to be recognized in this league.

Of course, Lin’s “decision” is a long ways away. For now, just sit back and enjoy what is sure to be a very entertaining season for Hornets and Lin fans. Lin’s got a coach who understand his game and is finally free to be himself. Even though he’ll be coming off the bench, I’m sure we’ll have some Linsanity 2.0 moments this season.

About JLintel

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  • MrPingPong

    Another long and well articulated discourse from the Philosopher! You are really into it, aren’t you, Philosopher? 😉

    From a Lin-centric POV like mine and many of us here, Lin is the best player on the Hornets. But from the Hornets’ perspective, it is clearly not so. After all, preseason stats are meaningless, aren’t they? Any NBA FO would play it safe and put more weight on Lin’s career stats lines, which are just so so. Numbers don’t lie but they do not tell the whole story of Jeremy Lin being screwed over by McHale and BS. But nobody in the NBA sees that besides us LOFs.

    That’s past history. The present, though not totally going the way we Lin fans like to see, is better than it has ever been for Lin. I am not optimistic the culture of the NBA as a whole, but I am always optimistic about Lin. As I’ve said many many times over, Lin will ultimately triumph.

    If I am coach Cliff (and of course, I am not), I would say to hell with waiting for MKG to come back from injury (which will be like 5-6 months from now) and go all out with the “big” three Kemba/Lin/Batum to start and to close out games. There is so much uncertainty 5-6 months from now. Why worry about it. Go with the best healthy players NOW to optimize the chance to win NOW and deal with the “issue” of MKG coming back LATER when it arises. Of course, I ain’t no coach nor FO, so my two cents are just wistful thinking.

    It’s the season opener for both Heat and Hornets tonight! Let’s enjoy the game and root for the Hornets to win!

    Letzzz Buzzz JL7!

    • Thanks, MrPingPong, for the kind words as always. I really apprecaite it.

      I feel the same way about you and, who knows, later in the season, the front office might have a change of heart and really embrace the new look Hornets. But it’ll take a lot of convincing for them to change their big-picture, long-term strategy. We’ll see. In the meantime, lets enjoy the season!

  • Some things I noticed with Hornets’s first game of the season:

    – Coach Cliff is trying to get the Hornets to move away from depending on too much Alfense. That’s the reason why he benched Big Al (and Al was not happy), even though Big Al was productive in the first quarter. I think this is actually a great sign. Don’t get me wrong, a few post-ups for Big Al is good, since he’s one of the best at it, but when the team keeps feeding Big Al in the low post, they get stagnant. This is what Cliff noticed in the first quarter. Of course, with a weak starting lineup, they don’t have too many options but to keep posting up Big Al. So we’ll see how Coach Cliff figures that puzzle out. Of course, the obvious answer is to start Lin, but I don’t think they’ll do that unless things continue to look really bad for that insane starting lineup.

    – Lin, the Hornets’s best player, needs to start if Hornets want to win against good teams. Period. This game really underscored this notion. Of course, this is a no-brainer. We’ll see now long the Hornets are willing to suffer before they give up their long-term strategy and decide to start Lin.

    – Coach Clifford did a pretty good job of getting Lin plenty of playing time off the bench, but Lin STILL only ended with 27 minutes and had to play more than the ENTIRE 4th quarter, which is not a good thing. This is why it’s really hard to break the 30 minute mark off the bench. and is why the Hornets’s best player, Lin, should start in order to give him the sufficient amount of minutes to positively effect the game. If Lin (the player of the game) had gotten 34+ minutes, instead of 27 minutes, this game could have turned out a lot differently. This is why the Hornets will struggle if they continue to keep their best player on the bench and, as a result, limit his minutes.

    – Lin’s shooting form and motion didn’t look good tonight. I hope that’s a fluke, because his form looked a lot like it did in the past. I was not confident in his shot at all tonight.

    – Coach Clifford has a fixation with Marvin Williams. Williams ended with nearly 38 minutes and I’m not really sure he deserved all those minutes. But Cliff seems really high on Williams. He has been all pre-season long, as well.

    That’s all for now. Lots of other observations, but don’t have time to get into it all.

    • MrPingPong

      Thanks for the quick postgame notes, Philosopher.

      The outcome of the game did not surprise any of us here, I don’t think.
      Lin came in at the 4:46 min mark in the 3rd to replace PJ and played the remainder of the game. It was OK for Cliff to fool around with this kind of time management in the preseason, but certainly is NOT ok for the regular season. Bad time management and bad coaching. All because of the insane (if not stupid) starting lineup. Sigh!

      On a brighter note, Lin did well for a sub, don’t y’all think? His shooting might be off as noticed by our Philosopher, but 5 out 10 overall and 2 out 3 from beyond the arc is quite decent and better than anyone on the team. One must give credit to the Heat for shooting well and playing good defense though. Cliff needs to start having Lin practice with Kemba, Batum, Zeller and Al now. Ok, I will compromise and agree for Cliff to start Marvin in place of Zeller… 😉

      Have a good night/day everyone wherever you are on the WEB.

      • You’re welcome, MrPingPong!

        Like you’ve pointed out in past comments, the issue with having your bench player finish games is that he’ll likely have to play ENTIRE 4th quarters. This pattern of Lin coming in late in the 3rd and continuing until the end of the game is likely going to be a regular thing if Lin is to finish games. Of course, if I were Cliff, I’d get Lin in sooner in the 3rd, let him rest for a couple minutes early in the 4th and bring him back in after the quick rest early in the 4th. But the problem with doing this is that it may mess up the continuity of another teammate’s playing time. This is why it gets really tricky when you want your bench guy to finish games, because it disrupts the natural logistics of substitutions. It is what it is at this point.

        At least this game clearly showed the Hornets and everyone who watched the game that Lin needs to start. As the evidence mounts, the Hornets may have no choice but to start Lin. But the evidence would need to be pretty overwhelming. We’ll see how this all shakes out. If you’re a Lin fan, though, you have to be pretty happy about this game. Lin is continuing his performance from the preseason really showing how important he is to the team. Getting “Player of the Game” on the first game of the season is a great start for Lin!

  • Lau Ming

    LOL best player comment

    • GT

      Wake up Maggie I think I got something to say to you
      It’s late October…

      Coach Clifford,

      If you are really serious wanting to win more games, entering the playoffs, and keeping your job, The only way is to start Lin as the Point Guard ASAP.

      If you look at the other two PGs on your team, Walker and Roberts, they are pretty selfish with poor shooting percentage, and most of all, totally lacking of true playmaking abilities. They both are up-to-no-good.

      I believe that you know those unpleasant facts and what Lin is capable of doing. I also know that your hands are tied behind your back. In the NBA, as in most big American corporations, talent is not the most important thing, Politics is.

      As the old saying says — it is not who you know but who you blow. I know that Walker is your top dog and you have to get him fed first to make him happy. So to the bare minimum, you need to use Lin as the PG from the bench as The floor general, not pairing him with Walker or Roberts and treating him as a SG. Treating your best player as a backup SG makes absolutely no sense to me.

      Short of doing this, I am cautiously pessimistic about the future of your team. 🙁

      May God help you!~~~

      • ashley

        I like your phrasing–“cautiously pessimistic”!

        • GT

          Dear Ashley,

          Thank you for your compliments. 🙂

          I am an eternally optimistic person. But given the way Lin has been used so far as a backup SG most of the time when he is on the court, it’s mighty hard for me to remain sanguine about the future of the Hornets. 🙁

  • old & in the way

    In his post game comments Coach Clifford said the following, “The thing we did well in the preseason we refused to do, which was pass the ball to each other. The ball was sticking.” All the more reason to start Jeremy at PG and get off on the right foot in the very beginning of the game. This quote also made me shudder because it echoed something McFail use to say constantly and that is the sticking part. Any echo of McFail makes alarms go off in my head. I know Coach Clifford’s style is much less grating than McFail and BS but I wonder if he is any more astute than those two when it comes to actual coaching. Yes, he runs plays for Jeremy and this is good. But playing him behind Walker when he is clearly better reeks of the same treatment that Jeremy has had to endure ever since MDA decided to stop coaching the Knicks. And waiting until late in the third quarter to use Jeremy in the second half and then playing him for 17 straight minutes is…forgive me…stupid. There is no nice way to say it. I hope he comes to his senses soon if he has any and for Jeremy’s sake I sure hope he does.

    • MrPingPong

      Dear Old & In: may I add that while Cliff played Lin 17 min straight to finish the game for basketball reasons, McHale and BS would never let Lin do such a thing due to non-basketball reasons! 😉

      • old & in the way

        True enough Mr. Ping-Pong. But this still leaves Jeremy in a less than desirable situation. For basketball reasons he needs to be the starting point guard right now in order to avoid yet another possibly “lost season.” Don’t you think?

        • MrPingPong

          Dear Old & In and everyone else reading this:

          I’m sure you know more than I do about this common saying in the West, “third time’s a charm.” In the East where I come from, there is a saying that translates into something like “no more than three times.” These two sayings sound similar but mean completely differently things, I think.

          Cliff, a Westerner by all accounts, will apply the “third time’s a charm” principle and trot out the same starting unit three times in a row, believing he will succeed the third time around, just in time for the Hornets home opener! 🙂

          I, born and raised in the Far East, will apply patience and let Cliff slide, but “no more than three times.” 😉

          OK, in case y’all are not entertained, let’s discuss “fool me once…”

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

  • MrPingPong

    OK folks, the Hornets forum at realgm has this thing called “The Hammer of each game award,” where they vote for the best player after each game. Currently Lin holds the Gold Hammer, i.e. the best player, for the season, which to date consists only of the Heat game.

    http://forums.realgm.com/boards/viewtopic.php?f=53&t=1410917#start_here

    There’s talk about the possibility of bias Lin fans polluting the votes. So be sure to stay away from the voting booth! 😉

    To get a feel for who voted for Lin for the Heat game, check out this link:

    http://forums.realgm.com/boards/viewtopic.php?f=53&t=1411506#start_here

    As you can see, the votes seem to come from established Hornets fans.

    Have a great evening/morning wherever you are on this WEB! 🙂

  • chirico

    Exactly as we predicted. This is like an echo I heard from Philosopher’s article. Hornets will struggle this season with JLin not starting for non basketball reason. Hornets FO needs to rethink about their long term strategy. If they insist on having a lineup like this for the entire season. Eventually Batum will likely miss playing SF and probably move on. What they may be facing is another season wasted.

    • MrPingPong

      From what I’ve read, Cliff will trot out the same starting lineup against the Hawks tomorrow. The Hawks got creamed by the Pistons in their season opener at home. They won handily tonight against the lowly Knicks, who surprisingly enough wiped out the Bucks in their opener. I watched a little bit of the Hawks/Knicks game. Cliff may have to play Lin the whole second half to have a chance to beat the Hawks, I think! 😉

      • ashley

        Coach Clifford probably has his good basketball reasons for trotting out the same new starting lineup for enough games he wants, since the first loss could be attributed to “the ball got sticky,” which he believes is not incorrigible for they’ve shown in the preseason they could pass the ball well and win with Lin coming off the bench for most of the games. Besides the ball movement issue, the loss could also be blamed on their horrible low 3-point shooting percentage. Of course, Lin fans as well as some savvy Hornets fans can easily tell that starting Lin should solve most of the problems.

        I figure the successful preseason experiments likely have boosted the coach’s confidence in the team’s capabilities to win; hence opening the regular season with quite a different starting lineup from the preseason’s. To be frank, I’m glad to see Mr. Philosopher clearly–and finally–laying out the political reasons for the Hornets’ FO not starting Lin, a bit which I’ve sensed for quite a while and has kept me from being optimistic about Lin staring. Will the basketball concerns outweigh the political in the end? We’ll see.

        Last, I hope someone—preferably more than one Lin fan–can address to the coach or the Hornets’ FO our serious concerns for Lin playing 17 minutes straight or the entire 4th quarter to finish the game. We want our boy to maximize his playing time, but not through such an ill time management.

  • Not sure exactly what it is, but Lin hasn’t looked as confident and loose and free as he did in pre-season. It could be just because we faced two good defensive teams, which makes it tough to penetrate, but Lin’s also not looking to shoot like he did in the pre-season.

    The second unit also looks lost, not knowing where to be when Lin has the ball. The spacing is pretty bad with the second unit and Lin. When Lin is trying to penetrate, his 2nd unit teammates crowd the lane or they seem to just stand around watching Lin get trapped, rather than move and cut, etc.

    Lin’s shot still doesn’t look as good as it did in pre-season. It looks like it did in the past. Very strange how he seems to have reverted back to shooting the way he used to, rather than the way he did in pre-season. I’m hoping it’s just start-of-the-season, start of a new team jitters. He still managed decent stats, but just not looking as confident and loose and free as he did in the pre-season. I’m still waiting to see the pre-season Lin show up. The one that was looking for his shot and took step back jumpers and such. The one that waited patiently to see what the defense gives him, rather than rushing plays and dribbling into traffic without a plan. It’s weird, tonight, Lin played PG for the second unit and he didn’t look as comfortable. Maybe Lin’s more comfortable playing off-ball now. Haha.

    After two regular season games, the Kemba/Lin/Batum lineup looks to be the best one for the Hornets. Tonight, Cliff changed the way he subbed Lin in, but Lin still ended with 27 minutes off the bench. Cliff decided to sub Lin in late in the first quarter and have Lin play the rest of the first half from there. And then he did the same thing in the second half, although he did give Lin a quick rest in the 4th quarter before bringing Lin back in. When Cliff took Lin out in the 4th, I thought Lin got benched (which would have been understandable, since Lin was pretty off tonight until he was brought back late in the 4th). But Cliff ended up putting Lin right back in. Lin’s two clutch threes made this game close.

    I’m not too concerned about the fact that Hornets lost two games, because I didn’t expect them to beat Miami or the Hawkes–especially with their current rotation. So these losses are expected. They managed to make these games competitive, so that’s a good sign, even though they haven’t played to their potential.

    What I’m concerned about is that Lin doesn’t seem to have much flow with the second unit. He seems to have more flow with Kemba and Batum. Haven’t seen him execute too many PnRs with the Bigs to great effect. The Bigs seem to not know how to roll or pop on the picks. So Lin ends up without many options out of PnRs. Hope that’s something they figure out. In pre-season there was tremendous flow. But, again, Hornets did just go up against two great defensive teams. So maybe that’s why they look a bit off. Could just be that the defense is too good.

    It’s too early to be concerned about anything. I think Cliff is still trying to figure out rotations and such. So it still feels a little like pre-season. I have no doubt Hornets will have better luck if they start the Walker/Lin/Batum unit and give Lin more minutes. I think if they start that unit, they’ll really overwhelm opponents with their offense. This New Look Hornets was supposed to win on their offense, but so far, their offense hasn’t been good at all and I think it’s because of poor rotations.

    By the way, like I’ve been saying here from DAY 1, Batum should NOT be handling the ball very much. That’s why you really need the unit of Walker/Lin/Batum so Walker and Lin can handle the ball and Batum can do what he does best: knock down wide open jumpers! This is, YET ANOTHER REASON why Hornets need to start Lin. They need to give up this fantasy of trying to make Batum a ball-handling playmaker. It’s going to result in a lot of ugly turnovers and losses for the Hornets.

    • MrPingPong

      I am seeing the same thing as you but cannot articulate it as clearly as you do, Philosopher! 🙂

      Yeah, it’s not the same Lin we saw in the preseason for sure. Not the Lin who played relaxed with confidence and with controlled aggression, surveying the defense, breaking down the defense, and attacking only when there was an opening. And his second unit teammates were not helping him out much either, like Hawes turning the ball over with illegal screens. We also must give credits to the Heat and the Hawks for playing solid defense.

      When Cliff took Lin out at around the 8 min mark in the 4th, I thought that was it for Lin too. I was surprised to see him insert Lin back in two minutes later to close out with Kemba, Batum, Marv and Al, the starters! So Cliff trusted Lin enough to finish with the key starters but not enough to have Lin start with them! All seemingly because Lin is needed by the second unit! OK, I’ll stop harping on this point…

      And yes, Philosopher, you are so right about Batum. He should be given the task of handling the ball at all.

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

      🙂

      PS: Agreed that it’s two early to worry about Lin and the Hornets’ season. In Cliff we trust, shall we say? 🙂

      • ashley

        Is this the first time Lin reverted back to that tentative and indecisive old self since being a Hornet? Hopefully it’s the last time. When Lin being passive, it’s very telling–perhaps more so than anyone else since it’s so obvious that he just doesn’t want to shoot. Perhaps he’s bent on getting his teammates involved, but it just looks as if he’s too scared or reluctant to shoot. Perhaps he’s just trying too hard to be an unselfish PG?

        Before long, we were complaining about the coach not starting Lin–and we still do–but I feel Lin’s performance this game isn’t helping much, despite the fact that he played well with those starters. Today, I have to thank the coach for putting Lin back in at the end of the 4th quarter so he had a chance to redeem himself. I know the Hawks did a good job trapping him; still, I wonder why it’s so hard for him to keep being aggressive on offense. If most NBA players can do that, why can’t he? Go, JLin!

  • MrPingPong

    OK folks, scanning various sites I found a few interesting stories. I can’t post all the links here because of the imposed limit of at most two links per posting.

    Here is one about Cliff going after Lin for “not shooting enough:”

    http://forums.realgm.com/boards/viewtopic.php?p=44915118#p44915118

    ‘Have no idea how reliable such account is, but I think there is some truth to that with Lin coming back and started shooting 3’s. Call me naive if you will, but I believe Lin and Cliff will develop a trusting relationship which will be beneficial to both. Lin is developing good relationship with his new teammates too. Hornets fans are warming up more and more to Lin. Good things will happen, I am sure. How can I not be optimistic about this young man? 🙂

    Switching topic a bit, check out htis NBA 2-min report for the Oct 30 game:

    http://official.nba.com/nba-officiating-last-two-minute-report-october-30-2015/

    The NBA admitted the foul call on Lin for pushing Teague with 15 sec left was incorrect. That would have be a steal for Lin! Anyway, bad calls happen all the time in the NBA. It’s part of the game, I’d say. 😉

    • GT

      Justice delayed is justice denied.

      British prime minister William Ewart Gladstone (1868)???

      • ashley

        For the Hornets, justice is denied. But for Jlin, justice is served–he didn’t commit a meaningless foul to give the opponent’s two free throws. Most of all, through the replay, people get to see how super athletic JLin is to be able to pull off such a stunt and how hard he played!

      • MrPingPong

        Justice is blind (as she has always been).

        Chronicle of OCLoF (Old Crazy LOF)
        😉

        • GT

          Justice is supposed to be color-blind, not blind. 🙁

    • Both great links, MrPingPong! Thanks for sharing. By the way, I think you can actually post up to 4 links on here.

      I also tweeted Lin to look for his shot to open up his game. Haha. I’ll be watching to see if Lin will look for his shot in the rematch against the Hawks.

  • realm9thfeb

    From NBA Officiating Last 2 mins report admitted that there were Incorrect call on JLin from the steal foul on Jeff Teague on 0:15, and Incorrect non call on Sefolosha blocking foul on Kemba Walker on 0:35. These two bogus fouls could have granted Hornets a W last game.

  • old & in the way

    The Hornets are on the verge of giving Jeremy Lamb a $21 million extension for three years but are only willing to pay Jeremy Lin $2 million dollars a year. What a travesty. Michael Jordan is an idiot when it comes to running an NBA basketball team. I grow weary of Jeremy Lin’s mistreatment by this toxic NBA culture.

  • old & in the way

    At least Houston is 0-3 with a -20.0 per game point differential and losing tonight at halftime to OKC by 11 points. And the Lakers are 0-3 with a -9.7 per game point differential and so far Kobrick has been playing perhaps even worse than he did last year. Compared to these two teams Charlotte doesn’t look so bad with their -5.0 per game point differential and two two point losses to Atlanta. Right now Charlotte seems to be much closer to figuring things out than either Houston with their egotistical self-proclaimed MVP and the Lakers with their old man bear leader who doesn’t have enough sense to retire. Golden State and their very real MVP, Steph Curry, have beaten Houston big nine times in the last ten games including last Friday night when the beat Houston by twenty points in Texas and Mr. Pseudo-MVP stunk the place up shut down by Klay Thompson. Hornets get the Bulls tomorrow night in Charlotte. Not an easy assignment by Jeremy Lin will shine anyway and Charlotte will win their first game. Yeah. Go Jlin.

    • Yeah, I think Charlotte down 0-3 at is not at all a big deal and is, in fact, very much expected. They have a very difficult opening schedule. It might be the toughest in the NBA. And this is a good thing, because you want to go up against tough teams while you’re still figuring things out. I didn’t expect Charlotte to win any of these games so the fact that they were competitive is a good sign.

      My main concern is with Jeremy Lin. He doesn’t seem to be playing loose and free out there like he did in pre-season and his shooting form has regressed to what it used to be. He doesn’t look anything like he did in pre-season.

      Also, it looks like Lin isn’t starting unless something drastic were to happen.

      And I’m also concerned that Coach Cliff seems to be relying too much on Batum and seems a bit blinded by Batum’s abilities. We’ll see. In the last game, Batum did well without turning the ball over. But I think that’s more of an aberration than the norm. I think Batum will continue to turn the ball over if the Hornets continue to let him handle the ball too much.

      Right now, I’m basically in wait-and-see mode with Lin and Hornets. i’m not too worried about Hornets though. They’ll make the playoffs no matter what, even if it’s the 8th seed. But Lin needs to start playing loose and free out there, look for his shot, bring back his mid-range game, showcase his individual moves, play in different speeds, exercise patient aggression and find his shooting form again (basically do everything he did in pre-season), or it’s gonna be another long season for Lin fans, because Lin’s not starting this season unless something drastic happens. So Lin’s going have to do a lot with limited minutes if he’s going to impress and get a good offer and maybe find a better situation next season.

      • MrPingPong

        Agreed, Philosopher! 0-3 is not a big deal this early in the season losing to (but playing competitively against) very good teams. The main concern is Lin not shooting well.

        Lin only made one 3 ptr out of six attempts in this past Hawks game. Two of those shots were mildly contested, and the others were basically wide open. Lin looked very disappointed in the postgame interview.

        It’s not the Lin of the preseason. Of course, I understand that preseason games were not played as intensely as the regular games. Lin is more critical of himself than anybody else. He will work to fix his problems, I am sure. The silver lining here is that it’s still very early in the season. There is plenty of time to adjust. I’m confident that Lin will find ways to gel with his teammates.

        Yeah, the way things are going seems to indicate that Lin will be stuck in the backup role for a while. LOFs like myself will just have to be content to watch Lin closing out games instead of starting. We will never know if Lin starting would have made the difference in those losses. The silver lining in all of this is people can’t fault a low paying backup guard when the team is losing. 😉

  • LinsanityFan

    You said it, JLintel.
    We Lin fans know that if you let Linsanity run the show, you get Linsanity results. Simple as that. No Ifs, No Buts.
    Lin has shown that he can energize teams when allowed to.
    Lin knows a thing or two about how to electrify teams.
    Lin has said that Coach Cliff is a listener.
    Hopefully, Lin can convince those in power to allow Linsanity to happen once again. Although brought up in the US, I wonder if Lin is shy to voice out his POV.

  • JT

    Clifford needs to win now to stay. Clifford needs to be a good soldier to MJ and Cho. Which Clifford will come out? I am hoping for some more losses as their schedule can easily turn into 2-8 or 1-9. Then he will be in do-or-die mode and “hopefully” we can see him focus on just get wins and use JLin to get them!

    • old & in the way

      It would be nice but Charlotte played real well tonight against the Bulls in a real team effort to win going away by 25 points. Jeremy Lin had a very good game but so did Jeremy Lamb and really the whole team played well. It is still too early into the season to know what may come of this particular Charlotte team and what Jeremy’s role may ultimately be.

      • old & in the way

        I forgot to mention that the Hornets did sign Jeremy Lamb to that 3 year, $21 million contract extension as had been reported earlier to be likely. Perhaps that lead to his near perfect shooting night against the Bulls. Meanwhile Jeremy Lin who in spite of tonight’s game has been a much better player than Jeremy Lamb up to now is playing for a paltry $2 million dollars a year. The NBA is an incorrigible business venture and racist I am sorry to be so blunt to the bone. Imagine a player of Jeremy Lin’s quality being ripped off in such a manner as far as his salary his concerned to say nothing of his on court treatment. The NBA should be ashamed of itself as should the rest of this country. But don’t expect any apologies to be forth-coming from either one of these entities.

        • JT

          Although I am not happy seeing the business side of NBA, but business is always going to be business in everything. I don’t think JLin cares too much (if any) about his NBA salary at this point. Otherwise he can surely switch his agent to JayZ or anyone of the big name blood sucking agents. I am just happy that he is now happy playing the sports he loves.

  • Chirico
    • old & in the way

      Thanks, Chirico. An interesting article and an encouraging post-game interview with Jeremy after the second Atlanta game. And they did play much better last night against the Bulls. Charlotte is very good when they play together in a cohesive manner which they seemed to have done last night. Two tough road games coming up in Texas tomorrow night in Dallas and Saturday night in San Antonio. Early schedule is difficult for sure. Coming into the season I wasn’t aware of how tough it actually was early on. Tough, tough schedule doesn’t make it any easier to jell as a new, young team.

      • Chirico

        NP, any time. Old & in,
        Another one for you today.

        https://jlinforum.wordpress.com/2015/11/04/jeremy-lin-analysis-hornets-vs-bulls-113/

        I found this article yesterday about a close up perspective from a fan who was in Tuesday game vs Chicago Bulls. It is interesting.
        The good side I see for JLin with hornets and coach Clifford is that he really enjoys playing basketball this year and he is in a team that embraces team ball. He is having good chemistry with most of the members of the team. So I am happy for him in this regard.

        Yup, tough road ahead, but I believe in Lin. Go Lin!

  • MrPingPong

    Hello Lin fans/non-fans and non-Lin fans, just making conversation here…

    It’s game night over here in the US for Lin and the Hornets. The Mavs’ official website shows a picture of Harris vs Lin as advertisement for the game. It’s rather strange to use the two back up guards to promote the game, don’t y’all think? Why not Dirk, their superstar, and somebody else on the Hornets? Perhaps because Harris wears number 34, which is Lin’s number 7 broken up into two additive terms! OK, sorry for the irrelevant math. 😉

    OK, I glanced at the stats lines for both teams at NBA.com and concluded that, on paper, the Hornets are a little better than the Mavs. My Ouija board says Lin will abuse Harris and Felton and whoever has to go up against him when he is on the floor. Just like the way he abused his old Rockets buddy AB in the Chicago game! Another blow out! 🙂

    And speaking of the recent Bulls game, I could not believe what I was seeing: every Hornets player was scoring left and right. I was so happy to see Lin playing like he did in the preseason again. If it wasn’t for the blow out, I believe Lin would be called upon to close out the game. It’s gonna get better and better for Lin and the Hornets. And yes, according to all accounts, Lin is really happy playing for the Hornets. Linsanity in a backup role! That’s pretty Linsane! 🙂

    Enjoy the game everyone, wherever you are on this WEB!

    🙂

  • Chirico

    I happen to spot this post by Robert W at JeremyLin.net
    which I would like to share with you.


    In a way, I kind of understand why Jeremy wants NOT to identified with Linsanity and completely leave it behind. There were a lot of media and public sentiments that didn’t want it to happen b/c he’s maybe the wrong color. He was ridiculed by the media and I’m sure plenty of NBA players didn’t think Jeremy deserved the notoriety that he received. Additionally, McHale and BS really beat it into him that he is nothing more than an average player, and relegated him to the pine, further destroying his Alpha mentality. I’m sure that really messed with his psyche, and hence to have some semblance of sanity, remove himself as far away from Linsanity as possible. I hope Jeremy comes to understand one day that Linsanity was the most phenomenal event that happened for an Asian American in the NBA, and that it saved his career in the NBA. As such, instead of separating himself away from the thing that made him a huge success, he should fully embrace it. We fans are waiting for that, let’s hope he figures it out and might become irrelevant next year”

    • Excellent comment by Robert W! Thanks for sharing, Chirico. I agree with this comment 100%.

    • old & in the way

      Linsanity is the most phenomenal event to ever happen to any player in the NBA. Ethnicity to me is irrelevant. I understand why Jeremy wants to distance himself from Linsanity and agree with the reasons that this poster presents. But I do wish the reality for Jeremy could be different today and could have been different 3+ years ago and I do wish that he would embrace the remarkable transcendence of Linsanity. For me it was the most inspirational and gratifying event I have ever witnessed in professional athletics. The life-affirming lessons that it illustrated have existential application to all aspects of everyone’s life. When people say “you can’t, you won’t, you don’t” Jeremy demonstrated that “you can, you will, you do”. It is just a matter of will, perseverance, conviction and execution. In a perfect world Jeremy Lin would be everyone’s favorite against-all-odds individual who just happens to be an extremely talented basketball player. But the lessons he illustrates apply across all aspects of human existence. Jeremy’s story is the allegorical story of humanity with all its triumphs and failures. Never give up, never give in no matter what. I can not imagine a more inspirational person than Jeremy Lin. And that, too, is why I love his personage. And it all began with Linsanity and that incredible 25 game stretch in New York almost four years ago now.

  • ashley

    Didn’t watch the fifth game, but learning about Lin’s relatively low stats of the fifth game against the Mavs, his TOs, the 17 minute scant playing time, as well as some negative posts from fans has been quite frustrating. Never would I have expected such a drastic change from the preseason to the regular season, though it’s only five games into the season. Feeling the need to temper my expectations for Lin, I came across this article which I think gives a pretty objective summary on Lin’s and his teammates’ fifth game performances while expressing some concern over Lin’s playing time.

    http://sportige.com/86425-charlotte-hornets-jeremy-lin-will-have-days-like-these/

    I hope this season won’t be the one that Lin receives the least playing time as an NBA player after Linsanity.

    • old & in the way

      Hi, Ashley. I, too, was dismayed with Jeremy only playing 17 minutes against Dallas. Jeremy still seems under-appreciated to me even on this Hornets team. But it is after all only 5 games into the season. So I will wait another 5-10 games before I draw any final conclusions. But so far Charlotte doesn’t seem that much better to me as a Jeremy Lin fan than some of his other locations. It is being reported that Jeremy is much happier now than he had been on other teams. So I do revel in that. Nevertheless, this still does not seem that ideal to me for him. We shall just have to wait and be patient for awhile longer before concluding much. I am very tired of Jeremy having to endure such “mistreatment” but maybe it is just me. I want him to be on a team that is successful but is HIS TEAM and not someone else’s if Charlotte is indeed Kemba Walker’s team. I am as unimpressed by Kemba Walker as many other people seem to be with Jeremy Lin. Why this is the case is not clear to me. But so far I am still very frustrated by Jeremy’s place in the NBA. So far for me Charlotte has not changed much if anything about Jeremy Lin’s treatment in the NBA and by the NBA.

  • ashley

    Hi, Mr. Old. Lin may be happier for being on a good team under a good coach, but if he doesn’t get enough playing time to improve his stats, he’ll have to opt out next year. Thankfully it’s just a one-year contract–the mod on JLin Portal refers to this as a bright note, and it does bring some relief to me.

    No doubt the best scenario for us fans is Lin being a starter on a team with a good contract. The second scenario to me is Lin being a six man with decent pay with a decent pay and at least 25 minutes’ or even 30 minutes’ playing time. Currently at Charlotte can be deemed as the third and the worst with less than 20 minutes’ playing time and very low salary. I think the second minus the decent pay is what Lin had hoped for when signing with the Hornets, but it seems the semi-second might turn out to be the third. No matter what happens, I believe we can all expect Lin to do his best and gives us some Linsanity plays.

  • old & in the way

    D. Pressing. How far away are they from being a good team? That far.

    • ashley

      Lin’s stats looked fine but he probably has gotten his worst +/- ever (-36) from this game. The second unit didn’t play well together and caused the team to fall behind and lose eventually. This is new because as far as I can recall, a second unit with Lin usually did well or even better than the first unit. It might have to do with the fact that Lin wasn’t the only PG; Lamb handled the ball quite a few times. Obviously the FO wants to try Lamb as PG after the contract extension, unfortunately it didn’t work.

    • I’m not worried about the Hornets. They were right in this game up until that insane run that the Spurs had spear-headed by Ginobli’s four three-pointers. I think that would break any team’s spirit. After that, it was just all about momentum and in the NBA you’re gonna have days like that. During those moments, it’s no longer about the skill level of a team, it’s just that their spirit was broken and it’s hard to recover from that for any time. Even good teams have those games every now and then in a long season.

      I also didn’t expect the Hornets to beat the Spurs anyhow, so was pretty surprised that Hornets had good leads well into the third quarter of the game.

      Hornets are going to start winning a bunch of games in the near term going forward because they have a much easier schedule. So they’ll be an over .500 team in no time at all.

      It’s Lin that I’m worried about. I’ve heard some people on Twitter saying that his back is bothering him or something. Not sure if that’s it, but he’s just not playing the way he did in pre-season. My theory is that starting in the regular season, Coach Cliff defined Lin’s role more and maybe told him that he shouldn’t do too much dribbling. Wants Lin to keep the ball moving, because Cliff doesn’t see Lin as a star player who can go iso. So I think that got Lin thinking a lot more out on the court about how he’s playing. And it may have also hurt his confidence. So I see Lin not playing loose and free like he did in pre-season. I think in pre-season, his role wasn’t defined, so he just went out there and played. But now his role is more defined and so he has to do a lot more thinking out there to make sure he is not doing too much or holding the ball too long. Lin is at his best when he’s allowed to keep his dribble alive and wait to see what the defense gives him. That’s what Lin is good at. But it’s hard to do that when you’re told you need to keep the ball moving. So I think that’s the main thing that’s bothering Lin. The other thing is that his shooting form still doesn’t look good. The only nice shot he made tonight was a 3-pointer during garbage time. That was the best looking shot I’ve seen him take in a while.

      • ashley

        I didn’t watch the entire game, but I saw the first unit catch up from behind and got the lead in the 2nd quarter and the Spurs made those 3 pointers in front of Lin in the 3rd. Kemba was the best player on the team today with 27 pts on 11-15 shooting. Well, I later learned that Lin’s +/- today was -38. Hopefully he gets his shooting touch back soon and can be the floor general we know he can be for the second unit–if he’s empowered to be. Currently, his role on the second unit doesn’t seem defined.

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