Byron Scott’s Values and Philosophies – Connecting Defense and Playtime

We need to understand who Byron Scott is and what he has said about Lin to understand how he plans to use Lin.

  • Byron Scott, throughout his career, has been known as a tough, gritty, guard.
  • He prides himself on this label and on his own defense, and prizes that tendency in others.
  • He has said that he wants his team to be gritty.
  • He has said that if (AND ONLY IF) a player defends, then he will get playing time.
  • He has said that Lin has always seemed like a gritty player.
  • He has said that Lin has met his expectations
  • Furthermore, Lin is one of the only people he has praised regarding defense in interviews
  • Therefore Lin should get plenty of playing time


1. On Byron Scott’s views of Jeremy, even before he met him

Trudell: To run the team, you have Jeremy Lin, and a question mark health wise in Steve Nash.
Scott: With Nash, it’s going to be interesting. Steve hasn’t played a lot in the last year, and the clock is ticking.[…] Jeremy is a guy who I like. I coached against him, and I love that he’s not afraid of the moment. He doesn’t mind taking big shots, and he’s very gritty, tough and intelligent. Those are all things I think will fit well with things we’re trying to do. (source)

Additional Thoughts:

The way Scott phrased “I coached against him, and I love that he’s not afraid of the moment” suggests that there was at least a little gameplanning against Lin, and that Lin surpassed Scott’s game plans in the games against Lin. At the very least it means that Scott was already impressed by Lin.

Additional Thoughts Via MBSurf:

people usually see what they want to see and expect to see. what scott says about lin even before lin had even played a minute of basketball for scott is quite telling. in my opinion, he’s already had a head start since scott has already formed his opinion on lin and it’s a favorable one.

and every time lin goes to the basket, every time he gets a loose ball, and every time he takes a charge or plays great position D, will reaffirm what scott saw in him.

unless lin really blows it in practice and shows things to scott that he did not expect to see, and shows it consistently, nothing will change his opinion on lin.

i think, based on scott has said about lin, that he will be someone that scott depends on quite a bit and will play big minutes.

2. On Offense V Defense:

MT: It depends how we define the term, but are you a player’s coach?
Scott: I think I am a player’s coach. I like to give my players a lot of freedom, especially offensively. Defensively, I’m pretty demanding because I want it done a certain way and I want guys to compete every night and get after people. If we defend and rebound the floor, we get to run up the floor, and that’s the fun part. I want guys to have that freedom for the fun part … within the system, of course. But I do think I’m a player’s coach because I’ve been there myself playing at a high level. I understand that your body gets tired and you need to be away from the gym. I try to take it all into consideration, remembering how hard it is from my playing days. (source)

Additional thoughts: This is key for three points, the context being that this is before training camp started.


  1. that it’s hard to impress Scott defensively, and Scott has ALREADY complimented Lin’s defense in a prior interview for being ‘gritty’.
  2. freedom on offense means more leeway for things like turnovers.
  3. his understanding of how tired players get means that he is more likely not only to preserve Lin’s health, but also preserve Nash’s health and give Lin minutes.
3. On Playing Time

“If you look at stats,” coach Byron Scott said (about Lin), “he’s one of the top point guards in this league as far as getting to the basket, so he’s not afraid of contact. On the defensive end, he’s very gritty and he takes a challenge. That’s going to sit real well with me as far as his playing time.” (source)

Addtional thoughts:

Here, Scott is praising both Lin’s offense and defense. He’s being very specific about Lin’s offense which means that he’s probably aware that he’s saying something controversial by calling Lin “one of the top point guards in this league”, he’s qualifying that comment.

But notice that he’s not bothering to back up his praise of Lin’s defense and tenacity, like it’s obvious to see and universal. Universal meaning that it’s not confined to only one or two aspects of Lin’s defense but his defense as a whole, both effort and capability.

Again, look at the mention of playing time and how he connects it directly to effort and defense.

 4. On Meeting Expectations

“I like him a lot. I really do,” Scott said on Wednesday (after training camp). “On defense he really knows where to be. He’s gritty, just like I knew he would be.”(source)

Additional thoughts:

This is the first interview Scott has had since Lin has been playing in training camp, so Scott can actually see Lin try to carry out his defensive goals. This has Scott emphatically saying that he likes what he’s seeing. Recall that Scott has said he’s hard to please on defense. Recall that Scott has said before meeting Lin that he had a high opinion of Lin’s defense. These are the expectations of defense that Lin is meeting, from a person who prides himself on defense and says that he’s hard to please that end of the floor.

5. On Defense and Winning:

“The first thing Magic taught me when I got in this league is that we win championships by defending every single night,” said Scott, who was drafted No. 4 overall in 1983 by the Clippers but traded to the Lakers for Norm Nixon. “That’s the one thing we can control.” (source)

Additional Thoughts:

Depending on how much Scott weighs in the fact that defense is what you can control, he might not care about misses or turnovers. Recall that Scott has mentored Kobe Bryant who is tops in both being a gunner and turnovers. Chances are, he’s going to give Lin leeway on offense if Lin shows that he continues to give it all on defense.

6. On defense and PLAYING TIME:

“If you’re not out there and you’re not playing defense the way I think you’re capable of playing, or the way we should play defense,” Scott said, “then I’m going to have to find other guys that will.” (source)

Additional Thoughts:

This has been consistent in Scotts career as a coach. In fact in the past he’s not been afraid to call out his team’s star/cornerstone out on defense.

In 2013, he said of Kyrie Irving being responsible for a game’s win or loss, “He’s got a couple more steps […] I still think by his fourth year those other steps we’re talking about taking that next plateau, the defensive steps he has to make before you can really say, ‘He can take this and shoulder the load.’ But not right now.”

Nevertheless he also doesn’t throw his team under a bus, “I put that on us. Us meaning coaches and players. We’re all in this thing together. We’re going to win together. We’re going to lose together.” (source)

Kyrie Irving is one of those players that Lin always gets compared poorly to, and yet Scott has called Irving’s defense lacking. This isn’t anything like the unqualified praise Scott has heaped onto Lin.

7. On Byron Scott’s own ‘underdog’ reputation and being known as gritty:

“I’ve always been an underdog,” Scott said. “Me making it from high school to college and college to the pros, playing with the great players I did and winning championships, I kind of relish this role.” (source)

Additional thoughts:

Byron Scott calls HIMSELF gritty, and was known as a gritty player. I think that he might be seeing a lot of himself in Lin. And not being a HOF player, Scott understands what other players need (encouragement-wise) and also understands how vital every player is.

Who is one of the ONLY people that Scott has praised, defensively?

“I like him a lot. I really do,” Scott said on Wednesday (source ). “On defense he really knows where to be. He’s gritty, just like I knew he would be.”



Lin has been doing well in Training Camp in Scott’s eyes and will have as much playing time as his body can handle.

By emz