Some Possible Reasons Jeremy Lin is Not Playing Loose and Free like he did in Pre-Season

So the regular season has been under way. I’ve been pretty much in a wait-and-see mode with regard to Jeremy Lin, since it’s a long season and plenty of things could happen. But thought I’d post some of my initial thoughts now that we’ve seen a few regular season games.

So far, the Hornets have pretty much met my expectations in terms of the games they’ve won and lost. The blowout of Chicago was the only big surprise. I expected the Hornets to have a rough start, because they have one of the toughest opening schedules in the league. So them starting out 0-3 wasn’t a big deal to me. It was pretty much expected. Them losing to the Spurs tonight was also expected. In the near term, I expect them to win plenty of games as their schedule eases up, so they’ll be an above .500 team in no time. I have no doubt this Hornets team will make the playoffs.

I’m not worried about the Hornets, but I am concerned about Jeremy Lin. He has looked like a totally different player from the pre-season. In pre-season, I had so much confidence in Jeremy Lin. Pretty much every shot he put up, I expected it to go in. Lin’s handles were good, he played at different speeds, had iso-moves like step-back jumpers, hesitation moves, he drove with a purpose and a plan, he exhibited controlled aggression and was decisive. The Jeremy Lin I’ve witnessed so far in the regular season is a lot closer to the Lin I’ve seen in LA and Houston than in pre-season. He is indecisive, not looking for his shot, not varying his play, and his shooting form no longer looks smooth. In short, Lin is not playing loose and free like he did in pre-season and I think I have an idea as to why.

I remember coach Clifford, after either the first or second regular season game saying something to the effect that the Hornets don’t really have star players so they need to rely on their organization on the floor to be successful. I think this is a good comment by coach Clifford, who has shown me to be a very knowledgeable coach. But this statement also tells me that Clifford doesn’t see Lin as a star player, which is very understandable. So I don’t fault Clifford for this. I fault McFale and Byron “the tank commander” Scott. Those two turned Lin from a star player into a backup so now most in the league see Lin as just a backup and Clifford is no different. Lin is pretty much stuck in that role now unless something drastic happens to jolt people out of this perception.

I think because Clifford doesn’t see Lin as a star player, he likely put restrictions on Lin’s game once the regular season started. In pre-season, I think Clifford was feeling his new guys out and so just let them play. But I think once the regular season started, Clifford may have put more restrictions on Lin’s game by telling him that he needs to keep the ball moving and not hang onto the ball too much. I think those instructions have had a big negative impact on Lin’s game.

Again, I can’t really blame Clifford for this, because that’s good coaching in general. You want guys to dribble less and move the ball more. But, unfortunately, I think a big part of Lin’s game is keeping his dribble alive so that he can probe the defense and see what the defense will give him. This is what Lin did constantly during Linsanity and during pre-season. And this is what coaches allow great point guards to do.  But because of McFale/BScott, Clifford is not fully allowing Lin to be THE floor general.

In pre-season, Lin penetrated the defense and kept his dribble alive, looking for plays either for himself or his teammates decisively, because he was just playing his game. It looked like the shackles on Lin were finally off and he was just enjoying playing his game. But now, I think he’s thinking about what he’s doing more, because he doesn’t want to be seen as hanging onto the ball and not keeping it moving. So whenever Lin has the ball now, he’s torn between whether or not he should play his game or move the ball. So he’s not decisive out there. But, unfortunately for Lin, only star players in this league are allowed to hang onto the ball like that. On this team, guys like Kemba and Batum have license to hang onto the ball, but not Lin.

I think this constant struggle between wanting to hang onto the ball and play his game vs. keeping the ball moving is the thing having the biggest impact on Lin’s game. Because of this, he’s thinking way too much out on the floor and not playing loose and free. He’s constantly concerned about whether or not he’s hanging onto the ball for too long. The other thing that may be negatively impacting his game is that I’m sure coach Clifford made a big deal about limiting turnovers after Batum had like seven in the opening regular season game. So I think Lin is being less aggressive than he did during pre-season, because he concerned about turning the ball over. The paradoxical result is that he makes tentative passes and decisions that end up turning the ball over. In pre-season, Lin took risks, but didn’t turn the ball over nearly as much, because he was very decisive and wasn’t timid at all. He exercised controlled aggression. Now, Lin is playing more not to lose than to win, because he’s more concerned about making sure he limits his turnovers.

This indecision and tentativeness is affecting the rest of his game and may possibly be affecting his shooting form, as well. I don’t know. The shooting form is a bit of a mystery to me. In pre-season, his form looked really good. But since game 1 of the regular season his shooting form changed and hasn’t looked smooth at all. It’s a mystery to me how your form can deteriorate so suddenly. But it could be that his indecisiveness in general is causing him to be hesitant in all aspects of his game, because it’s causing him to constantly think out on the court rather than just playing loose and free and acting on his instincts. One clue this could be the case is that in the Spurs game, the only time Lin’s shooting form looked good was in garbage time, when the game no longer mattered and he may have been less anxious so his motion was a lot smoother like it is in practice.

Lin is, once again, in a tough situation. This time, though, for a coach who is well-meaning. Coach Clifford doesn’t have bad intentions for Lin, he’s just trying to do what’s best for the team. And I don’t blame him. The way Lin has played, it’s hard to blame coach Clifford for not trusting Lin. I hate to say it, but it looks like Lin is still not allowed to play his game in Charlotte. At the end of the day, Clifford doesn’t see Lin as a huge piece of the puzzle, so Lin is not given free reign to play his game, despite what Lin may have been promised when he was signed. So as much as I like coach Clifford, Lin is still in a tough situation.

It looks like Lin is going to have to pick his spots in terms of when to attack and play his game and when to move the ball. I think what would help is if Lin decides ahead of time when he will hang onto the ball and when he will move the ball. He also needs to continue to move without the ball to set himself up for situations in which he can surprise the defense and put himself in situations where he has simple decisions to make. Situations where he doesn’t have to break down the defense himself. Once he does this and shows that he is a big factor in winning games, then he can start to hang onto the ball more and more as he gains coach Clifford’s trust. It’ll take time and we’ll see if it happens. Also, Lin has said that coach Clifford understands his game and that he feels comfortable talking to coach Clifford, so I hope Lin is proactive in going to coach Clifford and having a talk with Clifford about his concerns, etc.

In this Spurs game, the one bright spot I saw is that Lin was being more aggressive and looking for his shot a little more, up until he got called for the offensive foul. So I think Lin is fully aware what’s negatively impacting his game and trying to figure it out. That gives me some hope, because at least Lin appears to be aware of what’s going on. But unfortunately I don’t think things will change much for Lin until he can clearly show that he is a big piece of the puzzle. That will take lots of convincing, though. Lin is probably going to have to play out of his mind in order to make it very clear that he is a big factor in winning for the Hornets and it’s not going to be easy doing that from the bench with limited minutes.

I’ve said all along that Lin needs to start if he’s going to be able to have an impact on this team, because he won’t get the minutes he needs if he doesn’t start. So far, Lin’s minutes situation with Hornets is even worse than what I thought it would be from the bench. I had expected Lin to average around 28 minutes, because I thought coach Clifford would play Lin a lot from the bench. But so far I think Lin’s maximum minutes has been around 27 minutes and his average minutes is well below this. Admittedly, the data is skewed somewhat due to limited sample size and the blowout game vs. the Bulls. But I thin it is likely that Lin will continue to receive well under 27 minutes, due to the emergence of Jeremy Lamb.  Also, Lin is no longer guaranteed to close games, like I thought he would be. Lamb may have also taken Lin’s spot at closing games, so I expect Lin to close fewer and fewer games and average around 24 minutes if Lamb lives up to his new contract. With 24 minutes, it’s going to be damn near impossible for Lin to really show what he can do and get a good contract in the off-season. And by “good contract”, I’m not just talking about money, I’m also talking about situation (e.g., starting PG position).

I’m still in a wait-and-see approach with Lin, but significantly less optimistic than I was in pre-season. So far, Lin hasn’t done enough for coach Clifford to want to play Lin more. I do believe that if Lin plays like he did in pre-season, which is going to be difficult given his limited minutes, he will get more minutes (it’s a catch 22). So there’s a tiny chance Lin can get more minutes, but he somehow needs to figure out how to play loose and free out on the court, which is basically impossible given his situation. It’s not going to happen overnight. He’ll just have to build up to being able to play loose and free by, again, putting himself in situations where he can be decisive or deciding ahead of time whether or not he’ll hang onto the ball and just execute his plan without hesitation. Just pick his spots on when he’ll hang onto the ball and then hang onto the ball without hesitation. All of this, of course, is easier said than done. All I can do is just watch and see how Lin handles this challenge.

About JLintel

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  • SoulJourner

    I think Coach Cliff is all lip service when it comes to letting ‘Jeremy Lin play his game’. Materially I am not seeing any difference between how he is organizing the team and how McHale and Scott kept feeding iso plays to their star players. Such is the NBA way. None of these coaches see, or dare to stick with if they do see, the benefit of team ball. Lin is best at that, but again the NBA is star-driven. I am losing interest in following this game.

    • old & in the way

      Dear Souljourner:

      Tell me about it. I just made a similar post below without first reading your comment but I couldn’t agree with you more. The entire NBA is biased and toxic and I do grow weary of Jeremy’s poor treatment. I wonder if he will ever get the opportunity to play basketball in this league the way it should be played. I have my doubts but “love” Jeremy too much to stop watching. Still it is very painful to continue doing so.

    • Thanks for the comment, SoulJourner. At the end of the day, the results are the same when it comes to Lin in the Hornets, as you pointed out. I do see a lot more team ball, though, with the Hornets and I think we’ll continue to see team ball. But I think that’s because Clifford doesn’t see that he has a superstar on his team. So that could be why we’re not seeing as many iso plays.

    • jlin getting screwed

      Jlin is getting screwed again. They all know he can put up 20/10 every game but he is just being screwed over as usual.

      I heard some rumors about a Bulls trade. Would Jeremy have a better situation there? If you let Jlin be Jlin, it’s linsanity all over again and teams will win.

  • old & in the way

    You may just be right although I do not think that six games is a large enough sample from which to draw any long-term significant conclusions as you have stated. But initial observations and perceptions are both desirable and justified. I agree that your theories regarding Jeremy’s regular season performances thus far are compatible with the observable data. However, if your perceptions and theoretical explanations are accurate I am not willing to give Steve Clifford a free pass for what I would consider poor coaching. I think that he and the rest of the NBA needs to be held accountable for their behavior. I don’t think that Mike Woodson, Kevin McHale and Byron Scott should shoulder the entire blame for Jeremy’s misuse, mistreatment and the lack of appreciation for his basketball skills and the proper and intelligent utilization of them. In addition I have seen nothing in these first six games to make me believe that either Steve Clifford is a good coach or that the Charlotte Hornets under current management and coaching will be a .500 team or qualify for the play-offs. That is not to say that they won’t do either of these but it is to say that I haven’t yet seen anything to make me believe that they will. If your theories regarding Jeremy’s regular season performances thus far are correct and I believe that they may just be then I would have the following questions regarding Coach Clifford. Was he not watching the preseason games? Has he not watched the regular season games? Given the degree of separation between the two why would he (if he is a good coach) want to put conditions and restraints on Jeremy Lin’s play? Why would he want to put shackles on Jeremy Lin if he is a good coach? Is he just more bullshit but with a kinder and less abrasive style? Is he all words but no action? Does he say one thing and then do another? If so, he is in my estimation a bad coach and Charlotte is yet once again another toxic situation for Jeremy Lin and a total misfit for him, his career and his particular set of basketball skills and his ability to lead a team. Jeremy Lin is a leader who needs a free rein to excel. So far in Charlotte he has gotten neither the opportunity to lead nor a free rein with which to excel and prosper. Given this is all based on a very small sample of games played but I want much more for Jeremy Lin than I have seen so far and I will assume that so does Jeremy. If Jeremy Lin wants to know how good he can be and I believe that he does, he is clearly not getting that opportunity in Charlotte…at least not so far.

    • I agree pretty much with what you’re saying as it relates to Jeremy Lin. But I do see Clifford as being a good coach overall for a lot of reasons that will be hard to detail out in a comment. But I guess some of the things that make him a good coach to me is that he provides very detailed and insightful post-game comments. I think when it comes to Lin, he just doesn’t see Lin as a start player and to me that’s all on Lin’s previous coaches (with MDA being the exception, of course). This is why when a lot of Lin fans on Twitter commented that I should just trust Clifford, I felt they were misguided. I do see Clifford as being a good and well-meaning coach and so I understood why they wanted me to just trust Clifford. But to me, coach Clifford hasn’t observed Lin closely like I have since 2012, so DESPITE Lin saying that Clifford understands his game, I still felt like it would be difficult for Clifford to break through the perception of Lin based on Lin’s previous situations. And this looks to be the case. So, to me, coach Clifford can be both a good coach overall and a coach the misuses Lin. This is what some Lin fans are unable to separate and why I got criticisms of my articles about starting Lin early on. They felt that since coach Clifford is a good coach, they could trust him to use Lin the right way. I was able to see that there was potential for Clifford to misuse Lin, because he still can’t get past his perceptions of Lin based on not observing Lin closely since Linsanity. He has let Lin’s previous situation define his perceptions of Lin. And it’s hard to blame him, since coach Clifford is not a Lin fan and has other responsibilities aside from observing Lin very closely since Linsanity.

      That being said, I think it’s very valid for you to blame coach Clifford for not giving Lin free reign after what he saw Lin do during pre-season. But I think in general coaches don’t really give much weight to what happens in pre-season. I mean, Roberts also performed well (of course, not as well as Lin) during pre-season and he’s only seeing the floor during garbage time. PJ Hairston didn’t do much during pre-season and he’s starting. So I think coach Clifford’s disregard of Lin’s pre-season performance has more to do with this idea that pre-season doesn’t count.

      The other comment I have about coach Clifford that affects Lin and also a guy like Big Al is that Clifford is still very much a defense-minded coach. I don’t think this has affected Lin’s minutes as much as it has affected Big Al’s. I mean, if you’re a Big Al fan, you have a lot to complain about. Big Al has barely been treated like a starter on this team. He’s had very limited minutes for a star player on the team (only averaging 26.5 minutes). In Big Al’s 31-point performance against the Mavs, he only got less than 27 minutes of playing time. In comparison, Batum got 34 minutes in that game. There was one point in the game in which Big Al and Clifford got into a heated argument. I think Big Al is definitely frustrated with his playing time and it’s due to the fact that Clifford highly favors defensive-minded players.

      This also affects Lin’s game because Lin has to focus and work so much on defense that this causes him to maybe mess up his rhythm on offense. Lin is, once again, stuck in this viscous cycle of having to prove himself defensively in order to get minutes, because coaches just don’t see him as a star player and so they can’t give him a pass on defense. And, because of Lin’s perceptions, he has to be amazing at defense in order for coaches to see him as not a liability on defense. This is the type of double-standard Lin continues to face, unfortunately.

      The other comment I have about coach Clifford is that, unlike most coaches in the NBA, he has his favorites. Clifford’s favorite player is clearly Batum. He also favors Marvin Williams and after seeing what Williams can do, I now see why Clifford favors Williams. Clifford also has a fixation with Hawes, which I think his a big mistake. Hawes has hurt the Hornets more than he has helped the Hornets. I’d rather Kaminksy replace Hawes in the rotation. I think Clifford also trusts Kemba as THE floor general. Ever since the regular season started, I don’t think has EVER been the one to bring up the ball whenever he’s on the floor with Kemba, whereas Batum has been able to do so. In the pre-season, Lin and Kemba did share floor general duties more. Now Lin is stuck in the corner when Lin, Kemba and Batum are all on the floor. The result is that this unit, which was very effective in pre-season is no longer very effective. As a result, Lin is likely not going to be closing out many games because it looks like this unit is ineffective when Lin is stuck in the corner and not allowed to handle the ball when the Kemba/Lin/Batum unit is on the floor.

      • old & in the way

        Dear JLintel:

        I don’t have a twitter account or access to twitter chatter and comments so I am in a hole there. I agree with much of what you say but I do feel that Steve Clifford must be held accountable for what he does. It is too easy I think to say that he is just a victim of the biases against Jeremy that have preceded Clifford’s contact with Jeremy. He still needs to absorb what he is observing uncluttered from pre-conceptions. If he can do that then he may be an extraordinary coach. Otherwise he is just a run-of-the-mill coach and no better than everyone else. I don’t know why aside from cultural conditioning it is so damn difficult for NBA people to see Jeremy Lin in a more objective manner. But it is very clear that it is. Cultural bias is this powerful? I guess so but it still frustrates the hell out of me. How many more Jeremy Lin’s are there in this country that we simply do not even know about? Not just in basketball but everywhere else, too!!!!!! Basketball is the microcosm. American culture is the villain I am afraid and quite a villain it is. I will re-read your article for now as I read it only once this morning around 5am or so.

  • NOTE: I made a lot of changes throughout this article on 11/8/2015 at 7:45 AM Pacific Time. So if you read the article before this time, I would recommend going back and re-reading it.

  • pistolpete

    I thought Jeremy played well last night but his shot was off. His form looked much worse than in preseason. It could be lack of confidence or he just hasn’t has enough repetitions with his new form and is somehow in between at this point. I’m sure he will watch the replay and realize what the problem is and correct it. His shooting pct. right now is far below his career pct. and it will get better for sure. However he does so many other things so well that he can have a good game without shooting well.
    The second team looks terrible so far and makes Lin look bad when they are out of position or don’t move to the ball causing turnovers. Lamb had a couple of outstanding games but his career has shown he’s not much more than a backup. Hawes has been terrible and Zeller doesn’t shoot well. The only way this team has a chance of making the playoffs is to start Walker, Lin, Batum, Williams and Jefferson and to play them on average 34-36 minutes a game. The bench is just not strong enough to give them any more time than what is required to give the starters a breather.
    This of course will probably never happen and coach Clifford will be gone as will his great choice for starter – PJ Hairston.

    • old & in the way

      Dear pistolpete:

      I very much like your proposed starting line-up and playing time for the starters. The bench does seem pretty weak. Jeremy should definitely be a starter on this team and at the very least share the PG duties with Kemba Walker much like the Boston Celtics did in the 80’s with Dennis Johnson and Danny Ainge.

    • Yeah, I thought Lin was definitely more aggressive vs. Spurs, up until he got called for the offensive foul.

      Like I’ve said in the past, if Lin starts and gets 34+ minutes, then Hornets are a #4 team. As it is, I still see the Hornets making playoffs, because they still have enough depth to do so. This team does look good when they play team ball and they’ve shown that they can. So even without Lin, they’ll make playoffs. They just won’t maximize their potential, as I’ve said all along. The problem is, expectations of this team are low, so if they make the playoffs, they’ll think they made the right decision by marginalizing Lin. So won’t realize their mistake. And it’s damn near impossible for those like us to say that the team would have done significantly better if they started Lin and played him 34+ minutes. They’ll just dismiss this as delusional Lin fans talking. That’s why it’s so frustrating being a Lin fan, because we’re always have to look at “what if’s”, since people’s perceptions get in the way of playing Lin the way Lin can best be used to help the team win games.

      • pistolpete

        They may very well make the playoffs but if they do it’ll be as a 7th or 8th seed and they’ll be gone after the 1st round. You’re probably better off not making the playoffs in that case and getting a better draft pick.
        One thing is sure – Jeremy’s shooting has to improve if he wants to see more playing time this year and give him more options if he decides to leave the Hornets after this season. His career fg% is 44% but only 38% this year although his 3p% is about the same this year as his career. It’s very early though and I’m confident that he (as he always does) will work hard and make whatever adjustments are needed!

  • Psuri

    First of all, before pointing fingers at coaches, I think JLin does need to perform better, period. Bricking open shots has nothing to do with the coach or minutes given. If u are a NBA caliber player, u need to knock down open shots, no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Having said that I honestly don’t know why many are so high on Clifford, so far he has done nothing in terms of general game strategy or in-game adjustments that impressed me and not to mention his handle of JLin. To me, in terms of his handle of JLin, outside of being critical verbally, he is no different than Michail or Scott. He might talk nicely about JLin but giving him even fewer minutes or even on a shorter leash going forward. Sometimes sadly I have to say, in order for JLin to legitimately be allowed to play through his ups and downs and truly be given a fair chance to show his value, players have to be injured, and the coach will have to look down the bench and see nobody but JLin. If there is a Beverly, Ronnie Price, or even Hairston, they will always get the benefit of the doubt. Discrimination is an ugly thing but I think that’s why we are all loyal fans of JLin for he is a model of perseverance, diligence, and humbleness.

    • Thanks for the comment, Psuri. Yeah, Lin shooting has been very disappointing. And, you’re right, he can’t really make any excuses. In pre-season I had so much confident in his shot and thought he would have his best shooting by far. I still hope that is the case, but it’s very odd how his shooting has deteriorated so significantly and so suddenly. There might be more to the story, like maybe he’s dealing with some physical issues or something Who knows.

      Yeah, I’m afraid that despite what Clifford says, the end result is still pretty much the same as with McHale and BScott. The only way Lin gets minutes is if Kemba Walker or Batum get injured. So, once again, players have to get injured for Lin to get minutes, unfortunately.

  • Forthelin

    There is a very real difference in intensity between pre-season and regular season games, and then an even higher intensity in playoff and championship games. I think it is difficult to draw conclusions from players playing well in the pre-season, although it is not so hard if they play poorly. That said, Lin’s shot form seems to have reverted back to what it was. As a Lin fan, I have to confess to having some frustration with Lin’s consistency. I think LIn understands this. If the coach cannot rely on Lin to bring what he’s expected to bring into the game, he will inevitably receive fewer minutes. It is not always the stats that determines the coach’s confidence in a player; it is also the player’s own self-sustaining confidence. I think it’s clear Lin can be a very good player, but I don’t know if he brings that swagger everyday. Here’s to hoping he does.

  • Sage

    The Lin situation has kind of worn me out. The NBA should have figured out some way to ride Lin, not grind him down. I have not renewed my game pass. I will if Lin is allowed to emerge. So far, no sign.

  • MrPingPong

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

    First, thanks to the Philosopher for another well articulated article. And thanks to all of the readers who took the time to share your thoughts here. I’ve been really busy and missed watching the Spurs game. I went to the NBA.com site, checked out Lin’s stats and watched all the videos of his shots and assists. Yeah, Lin has been missing a lot of shots many of which are wide open.

    Unless Lin is physically hampered by a bad back or bad knee or bad wrist or something that we do not know, I think it’s mostly mental. In the pre-season, Lin was able to freely play his game because he was given free rein to do so since it was, after all, pre-season! Free rein no more once the regular season started. Lin will adapt and find a way, I am sure. Lin has never given up on anything, has he? An 82-game season is marathon. As the old adage says, it’s not how you start but how you finish. Barring unforeseen and unfortunate injuries, Lin will have plenty of reserve to finish strong. That’s my Lin-centric view on what has transpired so far. 🙂

    Switching topic to game day now. Boy, the Wolves are tough, aren’t they? The only negative for them going into the game tonight is it’s a back-to-back from a road trip. Because of Lin, I root for the Hornets to win, but I just don’t have much expectation from the current Hornets lineups and rotations. In the mean time,

    Letzzz Gooo JL7!

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

  • JT

    Cliff has been giving JLin ±20 minutes as backup PG/SG role consistently in all the games. He gets to closeout game if he is hot or sit if he is not. I know we all want more and better for JLin but this is WAY better than his last 2 years. JLin just need to produce like how he is capable of. No Linsanity; just the average 15pt-6a. If he still cannot figure things out in another 10 games, no coach will continue to give him these minutes. ±20 minutes per game for 10-15 games is a lot to offer in the ultra competitive NBA league.

    JLin, it is time to wake up and do your thing. If you miss this opportunity, it is all you and nothing to do with god. God cannot help man who can’t help himself.

  • MrPingPong

    Lin played freely: Hornets beat the Wolves! 🙂

    • Yep, Lin played loose and free tonight. My favorite part about Lin’s offense tonight was that he shot a lot of short jumpers. That needs to be his bread and butter. I don’t know why he doesn’t do this more. There’s no need to go all the way to the basket all the time. It’s much easier to just stop short and shoot a 5 foot jumper. That’s a much easier shot than going into the land of giants trying to put up a highly contested lay up. If I was Lin’s shooting coach, I would drill this into him. Drive, stop short, pull up for a short jumper. Easy!

      In Cliff’s post game, someone asked him about why Lamb wasn’t in in the 4th. Cliff said that he kept trying to see if he could get Lamb back in, but Lin played great D on Martin, so he left Lin in there instead of put Lamb in. Many Lin fans are happy to hear this, but to me. To me, this says that if Lin wasn’t playing excellent defense, he would not have closed out the game. This implies that the Hornets prefer Lamb over Lin to close out games if both are performing about the same. So this confirms what I’ve stated in this article that Lamb is replacing Lin as the closer.

      I’m less and less optimistic about Lin’s situation as well as the Hornet’s chances of making the playoffs this season. It looks like Lin’s going to average around 24 minutes and won’t be closing out a lot of games, which means that Hornets will have to really fight for that 8th spot. Before, I thought Hornets were a lock to make the playoffs, but I no longer think they’re a lock. Unless things change for Lin, Hornets are going to have to really claw for the last playoff spot. Unfortunately, Hornets won’t realize that they made a mistake by misusing and under using Lin.

      Now, when the unit of Walker/Lin/Batum are on the court, Lin barely touches the ball. Lin’s place is in the corner to space the floor. Lin is just there for spacing. Nothing more. And when Lin is in there with Batum, Batum keeps trying to be the playmaker, so he won’t pass it to Lin, because he’s trying to show that he can be a playmaker and live up this the high expectations of him. Batum will pass it to Kemba and the bigs, but not to Lin. Hope this changes. In pre-season, when Lin acted more like a combo guard with the unit of Walker/Lin/Batum, that unit was lethal. Now, not so much and will only look worse, because I don’t think Clifford is doing anything to fix this.

      Batum on this team is much different from the Batum in Blazers. He’s trying to do too much to live up high expectations of him. I don’t like this Batum.

      • MrPingPong

        You and I are seeing the same thing from the game rotation and the postgame talk, Philosopher.

        Lin’s driving to the basket and pulling up with short range jumpers created havoc to the defense. I was watching the Wolves video feed and heard their on court reporter say that the main concern in the Wolves huddle was “to contain” Lin. And yep, Cliff admitted he was looking for ways to take Lin out in oder to insert Lamb back in. A recurring theme in the Jeremy Lin story is while the opposing teams study Lin’s weakness and strength and have plans to try to contain Lin, Lin’s team is clueless about his abilities.

        As I’ve mentioned many times over in my years (gosh, has it been years already?) of commenting on this blog, no matter where Lin plays, he will have to prove himself worthy over and over again. So, what is happening now with the Hornets does not surprise me at all. Still, this is the best situation for Lin since his Linsanity days with MDA, because at least Cliff is not pulling Lin out when Lin is doing well on the court! 🙂

        So it seems Lin’s minutes will hover around 20+. Such under utilization of Lin will make it hard for Lin to deliver significant contribution to the team. It’s still too early in the season to think about playoffs, but currently there are 11 teams ranking above the Hornets in the East. And all of them have a legitimate chance to make the playoffs. My Lin-centric view is make Lin a starter, give Lin more significant minutes and the Hornets are a shoo-in for the playoffs.

        And about Batum… Has Batum ever been a play maker during his seven years with the Blazers? Somehow the Hornets think he is and feed him this crazy idea. May be by the end of the season he will become a good guard. 😉

        OK, it’s game day again: Hornets hosting Knicks on a back-to-back for both teams. The Knicks are doing relatively well these days. There’s even rumor about the Zen man trading Melo in order to build around their prized rookie Zinger! Anything is possible in the NBA! 🙂

        Letzzz Gooo JL7!

      • pistolpete

        I hear what you’re saying philosopher and Mr. PingPong. The downside is that Cliff was looking for an opportunity to sub Lamb in for Lin but Lin was playing such great defense he couldn’t do it.
        The upside however if you think about it is remarkable – A COACH actually said that LIN’S DEFENSE WAS SO GOOD that he HAD TO PLAY HIM!!! After all these years of fans, reporters and coaches saying his defense was weak (which we knew was not true) here comes coach Cliff to say Jeremy was playing great defense! Finally someone not only recognizes he plays good defense but actually voices it to the media! The other good thing about this is that Lin is a much better defender than Lamb so that means he will probably close out a lot of games. Lamb was extremely hot last night and he still couldn’t get back in the game. If Jeremy’s 3 point shot improves and Lamb comes back to earth then I believe Lin will get a decent amount of playing time (at least enough to showcase his talents for next year). Anyhow that’s why I’m still optimistic about this year – his coach has recognized his true value (unlike McHale and Scott) and seems fair about it. Of course Lin should be a starter and play 30-35 minutes and probably make the all star team but I think some progress is being made in his career at this point. He’s also happy, loved by millions, a great role model and rich (but I’m still missing LINSANITY!).

        • MrPingPong

          Yep Pistol, there is something to be said about Cliff acknowledging publicly that Lin was the best guy out there defending KM. That’s why I think the Hornets is the best team for Lin right now. He will have a chance to shed one misconception at a time.

          It’s a long season. Lin will adjust and play the way he likes to play. His long range shots will start to fall again. Right now, it’s just an aberration. It takes time to jell with his teammates. Soon his “near assists” will materialize into real assists.

          Linsanity will happen again, my Ouija board says so! 🙂

          • pistolpete

            HaHa – I was never a believer in Ouija boards but I think your board has it right! 🙂

  • old & in the way

    To All:

    Yes, I, too, noticed that when Jeremy was on the floor with Walker and Batum, he was being freezed out and never touched the ball. There was one four minute period in the second half when Jeremy was in the game for over four minutes and never saw the ball. This is just plain stupid and destructive on the part of his teammates. I think the two Jeremy’s play well together. I was thinking though that maybe Lamb had an injury when he sat out the last 16-17 minutes or whatever it was. Jeremy Lin’s defense is and always has been way underrated. If it keeps him in games that is good. But Batum needs to open his mind and eyes and pass the damn ball to Jeremy Lin on a regular basis or Charlotte will wallow in mediocrity all year long. It is perplexing that Jeremy Lin is so misused and mistreated by the NBA in general terms.

    • pistolpete

      Agreed on the freeze out at the end of the game. Batum in particular is a problem. Not sure if they were instructed by the coach to just use Lin as a decoy or if they just don’t trust him enough at this point. Lin was only 1-5 in this game from 3 point land perhaps that had something to do with it. Hopefully Jeremy’s shot will improve and they will play 5 on 5 instead of 4 on 5 in the future. One thing is certain however is that his defense is not underrated by coach Clifford.

  • MrPingPong

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

    The Knicks vs Hornets game will be on in less than two hours as of this writing. The Knicks forum at Realgm intentionally labels the game Knicks at Bobcats! Strangely enough, PostingandToasting has nothing on the game as of now! The scouting report at the official NBA Knicks site talks about Lamb but leaves out Lin completely! 😉

    It’s gonna be fun to see Lin and his second unit teammates fool around with the Knicks’ second units. And Frank the Tank vs Zinger? Nah, it’s not gonna happen!

  • MrPingPong

    In my Ouija board we trust! 🙂

  • old & in the way

    Jeremy Lin and Jeremy Lamb completely outplayed Walker and Hairston for the second straight game. One could make a very strong argument that they should both be starting ahead of Walker and Hairston. It seems to me the Steve Clifford has a bit of a blind spot when it comes to playing time and who deserves it and who doesn’t. In many regards he is not much better than other NBA coaches. But Charlotte wins anyway. Starters -36 and the bench +46. Does this seem familiar to anyone?

    • If NBA isn’t concerned about politics, then Lin and Lamb would be starting and Hornets would be competing for 5th seed. Instead, Hornets will claw for 8th spot with Kemba starting. If Clifford continues this charade, I’m just going to watch these games rooting for Lin to do well and not care whether or not Hornets lose, because if coach keeps the rotations the way it is, Hornets clearly care more about politics than winning games.

      If Lin and Lamb (“the JL boys”) played 34+ minutes tonight, this game would not have been close. your +/- of bench vs. starters tells the whole story. Gonna be like that all season if they don’t change things. Insanity!

  • pistolpete

    Linsanity! MrPingPong’s Ouija board called it! You have to hand it to coach Cliff – Kemba was not playing well and he went with Lin down the stretch. I was ticked off in the 1st half with Kemba getting 17 minues and Lin 7 even though Jeremy was playing far better than Kemba. Clifford wants to win however and he reversed the minutes in the second half. Jeremy is clearly an extremely talented player and for once he has a coach who recognizes it. I’m extremely optimistic about this season!

    • Yeah, Clifford finally really pissed me off tonight. I just posted an article about it. If Clifford continues doing what he has been doing, I no longer see him as a good coach. He’s either dense or a coward.