Point guard Jeremy Lin’s heard every knock made against him since he left the New York Knicks. He’s not fast enough, plays poor defense, too turnover prone and on and on. But with his new squad, the Charlotte Hornets, the 26-year-old veteran may have found the best fit to rediscover “Linsanity.”
Right before Lin became an unrestricted free agent “fit” was the word he used to describe what he desired from his next squad, and based off the Hornets results last season and their current personnel, they could be it.
Charlotte finished 33-49 last season, marred by poor offensive flow and few consistent scoring options outside of point guard Kemba Walker and center Al Jefferson. The squad made a number of trades this summer to bolster the offense, acquiring Nicolas Batum, Jeremy Lamb, and Spencer Hawes, but Lin could provide much more and specifically help Walker the most.
Walker’s led the team in scoring two of the last three years averaging better than 17 points per game, but the last two seasons he’s missed 29 games with myriad injuries. Walker has never averaged more than 36 minutes a game during his career, but Lin’s presence can allot Walker extra rest and more time as a scoring guard than orchestrator.
Hornets head coach Steve Clifford told Lin exactly how he plans to use his skills in the offense next season, the kind of direct coach-to-player communication that was sorely lacking with the Los Angeles Lakers and Byron Scott.
Clifford stressed how important Lin will be on the offensive end when it comes to long-range shooting and facilitating.
"One, Jeremy has the ability to make the 3, but two, he is a playmaker and has the ability to create offense for himself and his teammates," Clifford told the Associated Press.
Charlotte was last in the NBA in three-point shooting last season, connecting on only 31.8 percent of their attempts. The Hornets were also a middling squad when it came to getting to the free throw line, making only 22.8 trips per game. For his career Lin's averaged 3.5 free throws a game, and he knocks down almost 80 percent of them.
Working within the pick-and-roll sets and keeping defenses honest with his marksmanship and slashing, Lin can free up lanes for Walker to operate and creates more space inside for Jefferson to work.
After a lackluster season with the Lakers, Lin is looking to both expand his game and help Charlotte return to the postseason. He averaged 11.2 points (Lin’s lowest total since his rookie year), and 4.6 assists over 25.8 minutes per game and eventually lost the starting job to Ronnie Price and later to rookie Jordan Clarkson.
It’s been three years and two teams since Lin set the NBA world afire with an incredible 35-game run with the New York Knicks that launched him to stardom, but he said how much he’s grown as a player since those breakout games.
"I do believe I am a more refined player, a more all-around player," Lin said to AP. "I do think the work I have put in has made me better. I just don't think I have had the same fit or opportunity."