The Charlotte Hornets are having one of their best seasons in the last decade as they head into the 2016 NBA All-Star break, receiving significant contributions from players in their first year with the team. Perhaps most notably among the new faces is Jeremy Lin, who has played a key role in Charlotte grabbing the No.8 seed in the Eastern Conference.
With Steve Clifford's squad dealing with injuries to a few of his top players, Lin has been asked to step up. Because Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Al Jefferson have missed most of the season, Lin is third on the team in scoring (12.1 ppg) and assists (3.3 apg) among Hornets that have played at least 20 games. When he’s been at his best, Charlotte has found a lot of success.
Lin has scored 19 points or more seven times, and the Hornets have gone 6-1 in those games. The most impressive part is that Lin has excelled against good teams. Three of those six wins have come against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Toronto Raptors and Atlanta Hawks, who all have top-four seeds in the East.
Ever since he burst onto the scene with the New York Knicks in 2012, Lin has played his best when he has the ball in his hands and is a focal point of the offense. He’s been key for Charlotte when Kemba Walker is having an off shooting night or forced to sit because of injury.
“I’m excited to partner with you. I want to just help take some pressure off of you,” Lin texted Walker when he joined the team in the summer, via The Charlotte Observer.
Walker is the team’s best player. He’s averaging career-highs in points (20.5ppg) and rebounds (4.4rpg), and performing like a borderline All-Star. Lin has nights when he looks like he can be a top scoring guard, but he’s relegated to a bench role because he isn’t consistent enough.
At the height of “Linsanity,” the point guard was a dynamic offensive player, averaging over 20 points and eight assists in his first month of real playing time. Since then, his game hasn’t changed much, averaging around 12 points and four assists per game with occasional offensive outbursts.
Lin’s best month came in December when he averaged 13.2 points per game on 45.2 percent shooting. He struggled with his shot in the first month of the season, and February hasn’t been very favorable to him. He’s averaging 10.6 points per game after injuring his ankle a few weeks ago.
Through 50 games, Lin’s scoring per 36 minutes is slightly up, while his assist numbers are a little down from what they’ve been in years past. But he continues to play the familiar role as a solid backup point guard that can fill in as a starter when needed.
After Lin's recent 24-point effort against the Cavs, Clifford pointed out his confidence in clutch situations.
“He wants the ball at the end of the game. If you’ve watched his career, he likes to take the big shots," said Clifford.