Sports Out West

The case with Jeremy Lin

NBA Golden State Warriors' Tawainese bas

Will Jeremy Lin survive for more than a season as a Los Angeles Laker?

The odds are definitely against the notion.

Lin is a penetrating guard that works well off pick-and-rolls. As a starter for Houston, Lin was more efficient when playing with the ball than off-the-ball. As per, Lin was involved in the pick-and-roll an overwhelming 22.7 percent of the time as a Houston Rocket. Only his involvement with spot-up shooting was higher (26.1 percent) and transitions were a close third (22.6 percent). Unfortunately, Lin only shot 41.2 percent as a spot-up shooter.

The issue with Lin’s ball dependency is a shooting guard by the name of Kobe Bryant. He’ll need to split duties with a player who’s 36 and set in his ways as far as distributing the ball. It’s a different situation when James Harden, Lin’s former teammate, took care of the ball as the Rockets needed another ball-handler. Bryant’s used to a team without a “true” point guard, and Lin will not fit the bill.

The biggest issue with Lin’s stay in Los Angeles may be his lack of defense. It is simply put, Lin is not even a defensive presence. He works well off screens and pick-and-rolls, but on defense it’s a lost cause. Undersized and overwhelmed, Lin is usually out of position and stiff when defending his man off of a pick-and-roll.

Of course, the coach will play a pivotal role in Lin’s potential success (or failure). If it’s an offense that’s built to run or pick-and-roll, Lin should thrive. But, if it’s a traditional half-court set with an emphasis on defensive pressure and turnovers, this will be a very short and painful ride.

Lin may be entering the best opportunity of his young NBA career, but it will be a shocker if he keeps the job. While the dominoes are stacked against him, there’s some rope. There’s the tutelage of Steve Nash, the added insurance that Lin needs to score, and the hope that Bryant teaches the guard a thing or two about off-the-ball play.

Now, to address that Jordan Hill contract..


Photo credit Sam Yeh/AFP/Getty Images

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Timothy Lee

Timothy Lee is a sports and video game journalist born and raised in Southern California. He is great at finding the important detail in the mundane and ordinary. He has published articles for Riot Games,,,, and SBNation.
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  • Yu-Hsing Chen

    The Rockets were 3 points better per 100 poss defensively last year with Lin out there last year, yes part of that was due to him replacing the defensive juggernaut that is James Harden, but he also replaced Beverley on the floor almost as often. Though part of that was also because he was not heavily used on offense most of the time so the defensive effort was usually strong.

    Everyone was always out of position on the Rocket’s defense, it’s hard to really make out who is really missing their rotation and who is just trying to cover for missed rotations, but given Lin’s overall points per possession effect on the Rockets it seems that he’s more of the later than the former, aka he’s always out of position to try and help some one else’s missed rotation.

    41% from spot up is not exactly a poor number when you take in the obvious fact that 95% of those shots were from 3, where as the vast majority of his pick and roll ends up with shots at the rim, you can not simply compare numbers like that, from a points per possession POV Lin is well above average in either P&R / C&S / Transition, at least… when he actually manage to get a shot off.

    Last year the main issue became that most of the time he just watched Harden / Howard iso from the corner, which he’ll probably do a good bit of as well this year if Bryant can play and/or if Randle is heavily featured in their offense. Part of that is just the nature of those guys’ play, but Lin could do much to improve on his general positioning and awareness off the ball as well.

    Though the general premise is probably true, Lin is on his last year and the Lakers are in full flux, it’s not a good bet that any Laker not named Kobe Bryant and mayyyybe Julis Randle is still on the team next year.

    I have no idea if Lin would be good or not on the Lakers, if MDA was still and coach and Kobe mainly sat out I suspect he would be good, but MDA isn’t the coach and we have no idea how much Kobe will play. But suffice to say even as a off guard Lin has probably been better than what most folks seem to assume,