For the past few seasons, the Charlotte Hornets have been a predictable offensive bunch without many players who can create easy looks for themselves. Kemba Walker and Al Jefferson are nice offensive talents but neither of them are efficient enough to produce easy scores on their own.
It’s been the same old song and dance…Kemba rocks a defender and forces up a tough midrange jumper. Or Big Al punishes his man on the left block to unleash his patented right-handed push floater. Yada, yada, yah! Luckily, another guard is in the mix to make plays in the P&R and, hopefully, push the pace: Jeremy Lin, a “journeyman” with table-setting ability.
Lin, best known for his impressive work during his days as a Knick in 2012, is an intelligent PG who has learned how and when to pick his spots within the flow of the offense. Though he had some difficulty pushing the button in LA, Lin was a great complement to James Harden in Houston’s backcourt a couple of years ago.
Lin is not the most impressive athlete in the world but he does not waste many opportunities going to the rim or creating for others. He is more than able to break down his man and either lift a floater over the opponent or dump off to the open man, especially after a high pick and roll at the top of the key.
In his first preseason game with the Hornets, Lin looked extremely comfortable on the way to 17 assists and 7 dimes. What made his performance more impressive was how he did it. Lin cashed jumpers, as two guard, playing with Brian Roberts and got to the paint when the defense broke down. And controlling the offense, Lin found shooters in the corner and probed at the top of the key for short jumpers in the lane.
When the Hornets acquired Mo Williams from the Timberwolves last season, they envisioned him making key plays next to Kemba Walker in the lineup. Since Mo is now a member of the Cavs, Lin now has the opportunity to impose his will and take enormous pressure off Steve Clifford’s floor general. Walker is quick but he isn’t an efficient threat scoring the ball, though he is a solid shooter.
If Lin can get into the lane and create open looks, he can set Kemba up for spot up triples and other easy buckets. Lessening Kemba’s reponsibility is the only way Charlotte can succeed in 2015-16. Lin, who shot 36% from long range year ago, makes perfect sense to slot into the other backcourt spot for long stretches.
No, he does not need to completely approach his ridiculous “Linsanity” days. For Jeremy, setting up his teammates and creating easy opportunities will make a load of difference for an offensively-challenged squad like the Hornets. And without Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, it’s not insane to believe Lin can both close games for Charlotte and become a clutch performer.
For Charlotte to shatter expectations and reach the playoffs, a hard-working, spiky-haired hero needs to emerge and take charge of the second unit. Jeremy Lin is in prime position to make noise and provide a steady presence all year long.