Posted October 29, 2013

Jeremy Lin off the bench? Rockets undecided on starting point guard

Houston Rockets, Jeremy Lin, Patrick Beverley
Jeremy Lin and Patrick Beverley

Jeremy Lin (left) and Patrick Beverley have split the starting duties at point guard during the preseason. (Getty Images)

Jeremy Lin or Patrick Beverley? Rockets coach Kevin McHale isn’t ready yet to name his starting point guard for Wednesday’s regular-season opener against Charlotte.

“I have to submit my starting lineup around 5:45 on Wednesday,” McHale told the Houston Chronicle. “Things can always change.”

Beverley started four preseason games, including the last two, and Lin started three. Beverley averaged 9.1 points (on 50 percent shooting), 3.9 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.9 steals in 24.3 minutes, while Lin averaged 11.2 points (on 47.7 percent shooting), 3.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.7 steals in 24.7 minutes.

“Obviously, I would love to start,” Lin told the Chronicle. “I think every player would love to start, but I think given our current situation, being able to be an offensive spark off the bench, being able to be a primary ball handler in that second group are big things too. Coach and I and Pat have all talked. At the end of the day, we are all trying to do what’s right for the team. Egos aside, we are just trying to go out there and play. Who starts isn’t important.”

Lin started all 82 games last season after signing a three-year, $25.1 million contract with the Rockets in July 2012. He averaged 13.4 points and 6.1 assists but saw his playing time cut at various points and often sat late in games. The 25-year-old Lin, who famously broke out with the Knicks during the 2011-12 season, admitted that he couldn’t eat or sleep at times last season, that he became “obsessed with trying to be Linsanity” and that he once cried before a game because he was worried that he would lose his starting job with Houston.

Beverley, 25, a 2009 second-round pick who had never played an NBA game before the 2012-13 season, emerged as a source of energy and defensive tenacity off the bench after joining the Rockets last January. He left a Russian team to sign a deal with the Rockets that will pay him $789,000 this year.

At SB Nation’s Dream Shake, Patrick Harrel makes the case for why Beverley should start:

As much as Lin improved in terms of his shooting and ball control over the second half of last season, Beverley simply fits what the Rockets want to accomplish with their first unit better than Lin does. Lin is a more dynamic playmaker on offense, while Beverley is a much better complementary player, and with Dwight Howard and James Harden seeing a lot of the ball, the Rockets need to find a complementary point guard to start.

Both players are going to play similar amounts of minutes, so choosing a starter who works best with the first unit is the biggest consideration. In Beverley’s case, his ability to be effective off-the-ball and disruptive on the defensive side of the ball makes him an ideal fit alongside James Harden.

On top of that, Lin would also likely be far more effective in a sixth man role. As the season wore on, Lin and Harden improved as a pair at the guard spots, but playing Lin alongside a ball-dominant guard nonetheless was never the best use of his skills. Lin thrives with the ball in his hands, and if you allow him consistent touches in the pick-and-roll, he will take advantage and score with ease. Contrast that with the time he spent as a starter, often ball-watching as Harden isolated against his man, and it’s clear that a sixth man version of Lin could have a big year.

16 comments
MattShelton
MattShelton

Keep in mind that Kevin McHale himself was a sixth man ans scored over 20 points a game.  So, coming from him it's absolutely not a dis to have Lin play sixth man.  Not to mention all of the other great sixth men like Manu Ginobili, and Lin's own teammate James Harden before he ended up on the rockets. 

casualumberjack
casualumberjack

Yes. Bur realize that with Lin on the second unit, some nights your second unit will be more productive than the first...

phil2013
phil2013

Has anyone really seen how Lin impacts the game.   You must look at the intangibles.  The ball moves much better.  Ball movement is contagious.   Even Harden is more of a willing passer since he teamed up with Lin (look at his Thunder years).   I am by no means a Lin hater or a Lin lover.   I AM a basketball fan and really miss the days of Magic, Byrd, Stockton, Nash, Kidd - excellent ball distributors.   Lin can be that as well, with the right coaching....but I have little confidence in our Rox coaching.   McHale was a disaster in Minnesota.   How can he be any different here.  He will only destroy this team like he did with the Timberwolves...... trading away one a Hall of Famer in his prime.   Minnesota never really recovered from the McHale years.

ZaraAltad
ZaraAltad

When Jeremy Lin was in NY he put up a defensive rating of 96 which is ELITE. NY had the league's best D when Lin played there the last 4 months. He was also Golden State's defensive specialist as a rookie. Stats actually show NY's best defensive pairing was Lin-Chandler, not Chandler-Shumpert or Chandler with anyone else. It's a MYTH by Lin haters that Lin can't play D, we saw it all last year people looked for any reason to replace Lin, whether it was Douglas or Beverly. Beverly "looks" good on D but he was torched in the playoffs by Westbrook's replacement all series long (nobody talks about this). Douglas was also torched by Lillard when Lin was benched for "defense". Lin also shot 39% from 3-point-land the last 4 months of the Rockets' season, he's a good shooter after recovering from injury. Lin had a strong preseason, it's highly unusual a guy loses his starting spot despite playing well. The coaching staff made this decision a long time ago, it didn't matter what Lin actually did.

HVGrace
HVGrace

Congratulations, Rockets for demoting a dynamic starting-caliber player to the bench – to back up an unproven NBA rookie, mind you, not CP3, nor Nash, a 2nd year rookie! All in the pretext of “better fit” and team success.

When there is sacrifice to be made, it is Lin the hard-working, team player who is called upon.

This move should not be surprising, after all, Rockets effectively marginalized Lin throughout the past season. And, the team waged voluminous media campaign and brainwashed fans that Lin is “not a good fit” for the starting lineup.

Lin may “get more play time as a bench player”. Really? He will be the “Sixth man” of the team. Really? I have yet to hear this phrase from the coaches’ who have mentioned only “playing off the bench”.

For the last season, Lin has seen his play time reduced, been benched in 4Q’s, and now demoted to be a bench warmer. What is next?

If only Rockets would begin to utilize Lin’s talent properly, otherwise, send him to a team that will. Play him right, don’t hamper his future.

ToddDelGiudice
ToddDelGiudice

Ummmm.........no. Harden will play about the same minutes as last year (38min) so that leaves a grand total of 10 minutes where Jeremy can have the ball in his hands. Jeremy played like an all-star after the all-star break last season as a starter WITH Harden. This is clearly a demotion in favor of a lesser player. The stats show a that everyone's shooting percentages were higher with Lin on the floor.

Azeron
Azeron

Lin should be on the floor when Harden isn't during the first three quarters.  they're both ball dominant guards.  The same is true of Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash.

Terry7
Terry7

That's a good assessment from Harrel.   Start Bev.   Bring Lin off the bench with Asik to anchor a great second unit.   

I_Love_My_Knickz
I_Love_My_Knickz

Lin should not be starting, he is too much of a risk. But it's tough because they're both not worthy to start. They should make a trade and find a real starting PG. Or they hsould kick themselves in the but for letting Dragic and Lowry both walk away

M20
M20

Lin is the better player, but it makes a lot of sense to bring him off the bench.

docdlh726
docdlh726

@ToddDelGiudice High minutes lends to risks of injury. McHale might be wise enough to try to squeeze out some victories with Harden playing very limited minutes. The season is long and a team that lives and dies by the first 5 won't go far into the post season, generally. If JLin does as well as hoped playing as a ball dominant guard with the 2nd team, then McHale will be forced to utilize him more or face the wrath of the Rox nation if Harden gets "used up" during the season. A talented bench is a must for a deep playoff run.

docdlh726
docdlh726

@Terry7 ... and Lin will be option 1 on the 2nd unit. If he has improved his 3 and mid-range, he will be a scoring machine. All Lin fans tend to forget that Jeremy is still playing on a knee that suffered ACL damage. Less minutes, if he is productive, will increase his longevity in the league and reduce his likelihood of recurrent or new injury. A HEALTH Lin is good for the Rox and for himself and for his fans as the post season looms. I also like JLin as a starter but that might be more from fandom than an overarching viewpoint. Lin should be just fine on the 2nd unit, or he really might not deserve to be in the NBA. I think he will perform well and shut up his detractors. There will be a lot less pressure on him to "fit in" in an "ill fitting way" playing with another ball dominant guard. He is an attacker and it is really really hard to do that without the ball in your hands. I actually look forward to his playing off the bench and being given free rein to attack without fear of disgruntlement from the team's "chosen one."

Marsh the Great
Marsh the Great

@Terry7 Yeah, I think this is a good idea. I don't think Lin or Beverly are particularly ideal starting PGs but given their styles, it makes sense to have Lin lead the 2nd unit. While that's certainly not as glamorous, it's no less important. Lin rose to prominence as a "super sub" and thus, I have no doubt that he can fulfill that role again in Houston, perhaps even better so now since he's improved.

docdlh726
docdlh726

@I_Love_My_Knickz ... you are full of crap. Based on the science of performance, you have little analytical standing .. both Beverly and Lin are not only too young to know their upside (you have already determined their downside) but their FIT in the lineup is still TBD. Another star won't necessarily help make a team better (witness LA). I suspect you are the type that would not have drafted Wes Welker, Golden Tate, Koji Uehara, Jerome Kearse, or Russell Wilson either. (3 of those received were not drafted by the pros and 2 never received D 1 scholarship offers, either). The problem with conventional analysis is that it doesn't guarantee you much more than mediocrity unless you see what others don't while swimming in the same sea .. e.g. Billy Bean uses the same stats but thinks differently .. weighing some info more than others .. same for Warren Buffett or Ted Wechsler. They excel beyond their peers, with the same information .. but they weigh it differently. Judging Lin using conventional metrics will produce one conclusion but with differing metrics, another conclusion. Only time will tell which data is the best to weight.

anonymousbin
anonymousbin

@I_Love_My_Knickz Letting Dragic and Lowry go enabled them to get both Harden and Howard. I think they would make the same decision today.

maknusia
maknusia

@M20 It may...but why cant the Coach and Rox Front Office be upfront about it? Hence creating so many propaganda and its kind  disheartening to Lin /NBA fans  as a whole.


And I do wonder how the time split for Jeremy to lead the second unit is gonna pan out?

You can expect Lin to run 2-3 mins and then takes a break, and comes in 10 mins later for another 2-3 mns with second unit and perform with efficiency?!

Unless, he is let to run the second unit, at least for 5-6mins for each run.