After the first 20 games of the 2014-2015 season, Los Angeles Lakers head coach Byron Scott decided to shake up the lineup, benching both Jeremy Lin and Carlos Boozer. L.A. has been one of the worst teams in the NBA, going 5-15 to start the year.
Boozer was not happy with the decision, and Lin was disappointed, as well. Shortly after being relegated to the bench, the point guard told reporters that he believed he was the best player for the starting job.
“I look back and I think I had some great games in that 20-game stretch,” Lin said. “I had some off games, I had some great games, just like everybody else. It’s a process. Me of all people, I know it can change overnight.”
It’s no surprise that Lin thinks he should have a starting role, but would putting him back in his former role be best for the team?
While Ronnie Price started for much of the preseason, an injury put Lin in the starting lineup, and he remained there for 20 games. The Lakers weren’t even competitive for many games, losing by at least 16 points on seven different occasions.
Lin’s numbers haven’t been anything special this season, but his production has been close to what he’s done throughout his short career. The point guard is averaging 11.1 points, 4.8 assists and 2.7 rebounds per game, shooting 43.9 percent from the field.
Los Angeles has been an average offensive team, but their defensive liabilities are the biggest reason for the team’s struggles. The Lakers rank last in defensive efficiency, allowing 111.4 points per 100 possessions. Lin is known for being a poor defender, and he has certainly contributed to the team's poor numbers.
Lin might not be the Lakers’ ideal starting point guard, but his replacement hasn’t exactly outshined the 26-year-old. In 20.9 minutes per game, Price is averaging 3.8 points, 3.9 assists and 1.9 rebounds per game, on just 30.8 percent shooting. The Lakers are 1-1 in the two games that he’s started, but Price hasn’t been much of a contributor on the offensive end, making two of nine total shots, posting five points and nine assists.
At 31 years old and in his ninth season as an NBA player, Price isn’t getting any better. He’s never averaged more than 14.4 minutes or played more than 61 games in a single season.
It’s possible that Lin’s days as a starter this season are not done. He’s in his first year with the Lakers, having been traded from the Houston Rockets in the offseason, and his play could improve as the season progresses.
“That’s everything. That sums it up really well right there,” Lin said when asked how much of his struggles have to do with learning how to play with Kobe Bryant and in a new system. “This is one of the toughest situations I’ve been in ever since I started playing the game of basketball, trying to figure it all out. It’s tough but I believe God has me here for a reason and I just keep working.”
Lin averaged 31.3 minutes per game when he started throughout all of November. He’s played 42 total minutes in his two games coming off the bench.