This season, Jeremy Lin has had very few opportunities to showcase his full potential as a point guard. And at every given opening, the Charlotte Hornets guards has exhibited the innate ability to read the floor and get his teammates better looks.
During the monumental victory against Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday, Lin made some highlight-worthy plays in the third quarter when the Hornets rallied back by outscoring the Cavs 33-17. Lin finished with 24 points, 8 assists and 5 rebounds. But his impact can’t be gauged by just stats.
All through the game, the backcourt duo of Lin and Nicolas Batum opened up the floor beautifully and got the likes of Marvin Williams and Frank Kaminsky easy shots. Simply put, the Hornets offense was thriving courtesy of open lanes for cuts and baskets, smarter and quicker passing.
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Lin and Walker committed a total 9 turnovers. But they made up for the mistakes with 13 combined assists. They also smartly switched on defesne against Kyrie Irving and even doubled the Cavs PG at critical moments. There was the instance early in the fourth quarter when Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Hornets’ best defender, switched from guarding LeBron to guarding Irving when Lin realized that the Cavs superstar was too quick to stop.
Jeremy Lin is not a physical specimen, he is not built as a great defender. But he has sound defensive awareness. There was great communication between Lin, Batum and Kidd-Gilchrist both on offense and defense. It was a refreshing sight and ought to have pleased Hornets coach Steve Clifford.
Walker a better two-guard….
Kemba Walker has got scoring ability. No doubt about that. It’s no wonder that the fifth-year guard is averaging a career high 20.2 points. But the fact is the Hornets offense stifles into “The Kemba Show” when Walker is bestowed with duties of floor general.
There have been countless occasions this season when Hornets have lost close games because the rest of the shooters weren’t involved in the game. Surely, Walker still deserves to take the last shot – since he has earned that right. But is Walker making his teammates better? Isn’t that the job of a floor general?
An interesting experiment…
Here’s a food for thought.
Let’s assume that Al Jefferson is back and healthy. Since Walker can excel off-the-ball too, how about experimenting with the starting 5: Jefferson-MKG-Batum-Walker-Lin. Now, you’d scoff at that and wonder where is Marvin Williams? Surely, Williams has performed admirably for Hornets this season. He is a double-double machine and very versatile on defense.
Having said all that, the NBA is switching to a fast-paced game that is being redefined by small-ball line-ups. Batum used to play Small Forward for the Portland Trailblazers. And Kidd-Gilchrist surely has the size and defensive versatility to guard opposition 4’s and post-up if needed.
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By having Batum, Walker and Lin on the perimeter simultaneously, Hornets have good 3-point shooting and solid perimeter defense. With MKG’s ability to switch on defenders, he would help on the perimeter, too.
Jeremy Lin has done enough to warrant an uninterrupted run as the Hornets’ starting point guard. Every advanced stat solidifies this: The Hornets play better when Walker plays off-the-ball and Lin has a higher usage rate. Now, it’s up to coach Clifford to make the right decisions.