Don’t have much time to write, but the more I see of coach Cliff, the less I’m impressed. Don’t get me wrong, he’s still better than the jokers that Lin has dealt with, but he’s far from what I had expected, based on the pre-season, etc. Also, he knows less about Lin’s game than Jeremy Lin lead us to believe when Lin signed with the Hornets and said that Cliff understood his game.
What is so frustrating to watch regular season game after regular season game is that Lin is not allowed to handle the ball at all when Kemba is on the floor. In the pre-season, this was not the case and because of that in the pre-season, the unit of Kemba/Lin/Batum was lethal. But Cliff made sure to put an end to that in the regular season, when he designated Kemba as THE floor general, which is insane, because Lin is a much better floor general. Last season, Lin managed to average 4.6 assists playing only 25.8 minutes on a garbage team in full tank mode, while Kemba averaged 5.1 assists in 34.2 minutes. The last time Lin averaged over 30 minutes was his first season in Houston, playing alongside a very ball-dominant guard, James Harden. Lin averaged 6.1 assists in 32.2 minutes. Kemba was THE floor general last season (and still is this season) and ONLY managed 5.1 assists. For those who argue that Kemba didn’t have very talented teammates last season, he’s averaging even fewer assists this season with 4.9 in eleven games. Lin was playing off-guard in Houston and managed to average more assists in less time then Kemba, who was THE floor general for the Hornets.
Any way you cut it, Lin is a better floor general then Kemba and the Hornets would be a MUCH better team if Lin is allowed to be the floor general. AT THE VERY LEAST, Lin should be a combo-guard when Kemba and Lin on the floor together. That’s what they did in pre-season and it worked out very well. The team looked great with the unit of Kemba/Lin/Batum on the floor. But that unit hasn’t looked good since the regular season kicked off and Cliff took the ball out of Lin’s hands and made Kemba THE floor general. It’s insane how little coaches know when it’s their entire damn job to know. It boggles my mind all the time. If I had all the time to devote to this coaching shit, I wouldn’t do such a lousy job. Coaches fuck up on the simplest things. They can blame it on politics or what not, but if they want to win games, they should figure out a way to do so. Instead, they ignore some of the most basic things.
I understand that politics prevents you from starting Lin over Kemba, even though that’s the right thing to do if you want to win games. But fine. I get that. I’m not blinded to the politics that goes on everywhere. But if you’re not gong to start Lin, then when Lin checks into the game, you should have Lin be THE floor general and have Kemba play off ball if they’re on the floor together in the first half. Why make Lin play off ball during the limited time that Lin gets to see the floor? This is why I don’t exonerate Cliff. If Cliff fully understood Lin’s game, then he would at least let Lin be the floor general when Lin checks in the game at the end of first quarters. Lin’s minutes on the floor are already limited due to politics, why exacerbate it by forcing Lin to play off-ball right when he checks in? Why even continue to keep Kemba on the floor when Lin checks in for the first time? It’s so unnecessary to have Kemba play the entire first quarter, when you got Lin with a fresh pair of legs to run the floor. Lin, who is actually a better floor general than Kemba. That part is on Cliff, not politics. And it shows me that Cliff doesn’t have a good grasp of Lin’s game.
In crunch time, if Kemba and Lin are on the floor together, then you have the luxury of having two ball handlers.Why not capitalize on that luxury and let both Kemba and Lin play combo guard so that the defense is constantly surprised about who to key in on? That seems so basic to me and the fact that coaches can’t figure that elementary shit out disappoints the hell out of me. It’s your damn job. It’s what you devote most of your waking hours to and you can’t figure it out? Instead, you stick Lin in the corner where the defense can completely ignore him, because they know that none of his teammates are ever going to pass it to him in the corner. It’s insane how you can stick a guy in a corner, who the opponent is really worried about and who can carve up the defense like few can. You’ve essentially done all the work for your opponents. And you call that coaching? It’s crazy to me how all coaches, but a few, in the NBA are complete morons!
For those who say that Lin needs to move to move more off-ball. The problem is that Lin has to maintain spacing on the floor. Usually, when a player is stuck in the corner, they are there primarily to space out the floor. So if that player moves, it disrupts the floor spacing. So there’s a very delicate balance you have to make between moving and staying put to maintain spacing on the floor. Now, there are occasions when Lin should be moving more off-ball, but there actually aren’t that many opportunities to move off-ball when you’re stuck in the corner. You have your other teammate sort of boxing you in there, because if you try to move out of the corner, then the spacing between you and your teammate, who has you kind of boxed in, gets all scrunched up.
I think what Lin should do is demand to take the ball down the floor every now and then during crunch time or right when Kemba passes half-court, Lin should move to the top of the arc to demand the ball. But that’s also a tough call, because if you do that, you are likely going against your coach who has called a play that likely doesn’t include you, because you’re stuck in the corner. All this being said, I do think Lin defers to Batum and Kemba more than he needs to. Lin needs to stop thinking about who SHOULD get the ball and just play ball. I think Lin does think too much about when he should and shouldn’t have the ball. I don’t blame him, though, because in his previous teams, he would get benched if he didn’t defer. So I think Lin still carries that with him to some degree. So Lin somehow needs to move past that, because Batum and Kemba are definitely not at the level of being superstars that you need to defer to. So Lin needs to let go of that feeling that he needs to defer to them in crunch time.
I keep saying and I will continue to say that if Lin played 34+ minutes and is allowed to be THE floor general, the Hornets would be competing for the 5th spot, rather than struggling to get the 8th spot. Even if you’re not a Lin fan, I think you have to admit that if Lin had played 34+ minutes and been allowed to be THE floor general, the Hornets would have won tonight’s game vs. the Knicks. So tonight’s game is just one clear example of many games that the Hornets WOULD HAVE WON if they played Lin the right way. This is why Hornets could be competing for the 5th spot if they maximize their potential and play Jeremy Lin 34+ minutes the right way. I will continue to bring this up, because this is a really hard concept to grasp, since I’m trying to prove something that will never happen.
After all that talk and all that optimism, Lin is still not in a good situation if things continue trending the way they have been for Lin in the Hornets. Lin is going to likely average the fewest minutes since Linsanity and is still forced to play off-ball way way more than he should be to the detriment of team ball and team wins.