How Jeremy Lin’s True PG Mentality Helped the Hornets 13-4 Run Without Attempting a Single Shot

In this day and age of score-first, pass-second NBA Point Guards like Kyrie Irving, a healthy Derrick Rose, Damien Lillard, some Jeremy Lin fans ask if he is not better off as a backup PG because he has the true PG mentality of being pass-first, shoot-second point guards like Chris Paul, Rajon Rondo, Steve Nash, etc.

Just as Chris Paul and Rondo (who is a poor shooter but great passer) have a place as a starter in the NBA, Jeremy Lin also has a place as an NBA starter in the right system. The Hornets win against the Knicks offers a glimpse of Jeremy Lin’s ability as a true PG to make his teammates better without attempting a single shot since the Hornets was able to make 13-4 run to break open the 4th quarter by feeding Al Jefferson’s hot hands and picking up great defensive intensity winning Turnover battle (4-1).  When Kemba Walker checked in with 6:15 left, the offense stopped going to Big Al and focused too much on Kemba’s hot shooting. As the defensive energy also went down (losing TO battle 2-3), the Knicks made a 21-17 mini-run but it’s not enough as the Hornets won with a final score of 111-97.

This stark contrast of Lin and Kemba’s PG style offers an explanation why Lin’s court-vision can make his teammates better by feeding the hot hands (plus improving defensive hustles) even when he has shooting struggle (possibly due to elbow bursitis) but Kemba’s hot shooting may lead to offensive inefficiency and defensive letdown.

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Question: “How is Jeremy Lin better than Kemba as a Point Guard? Am I the only Lin fan who does not mind him off the bench?”

1. PG Definition
Check out the wiki definition of what PG responsibilities are:

Point Guards are expected to run the team’s offense by controlling the ball and making sure that it gets to the right players at the right time. A point guard, like other player positions in basketball, specializes in certain skills. A point guard’s job is to create scoring opportunities for his/her team, or sometimes attack the basket.
Link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Point_guard

Once we agree that a PG main responsibility are the following:
1. Control the ball and make sure it gets to the right players at the right time
2. Create scoring opportunities for his/her team, or sometimes attack the basket

then we can use a combination of eye-test, game analysis, statistics to answer this question.

2. Better PG? Better SG?
My short answer is JLin is a better pure PG because he can run the offense and distribute the ball to the right teammates even without scoring (i.e. Al Jefferson whose post-plays can’t be stopped by the Knicks, MWilliams 3, Hawes on fastbreak). Not all are recorded as assists, just like Hawes shot FTs when he got fouled on fastbreak.

This ability to make teammates better is very important since it’s the PG job to ensure teammates are involved on offense, which translate to them being involved in defense.

Kemba is a score first, pass second PG which is why he had limited success because he doesn’t create as many opportunities for his teammates. He actually fits the definition of a Shooting Guard more. And he’s a great scorer

3. Example of a true PG finding teammates with hot hands
Example: The Hornets made 13-4 run with JLin as the PG from the start of 4th quarter (81-72) even without him attempting a shot until Kemba checked in with 6:15 (94-76). After Kemba checked in, Knicks cut the deficit a bit with 21-17 run but it’s not enough as the Hornets won with a final score of 111-97

If you watched the game or look at the game log, you’ll understand why
1. The Hornets scored 6 out of 10 offensive possessions during the 13-4 run because JLin repeatedly fed the ball inside to Al Jefferson scoring 10 out of 13 pts. Hawes made 1-2 FT; Lamb had 2pts. JLin didn’t even attempt 1 shot
Defense: Hornets won the Turnover battle (4 vs 0)
2. After Kemba checked in with 6:15 left, the Hornets still scored 6 out of 10 possessions but defense suffered and Kemba did not feed Big Al inside (only 2pts off 1 JLin assist in this period). Kemba dominated the offense with 2 TOs, 2 out of 3 shots, 2 technical FTs.
Defense: Hornets lost the Turnover battle (2 vs 3)

From this example, you can understand the different PG mentality that JLin and Kemba had.
JLin feeds the hot hands of teammates first while Kemba feeds his own hot hands first.
JLin understood Big Al presents a huge matchup with Robin Lopez who couldn’t stop him at all so he kept going to Big Al. Lopez got ejected because he was finally frustrated unable to stop Big Al. Kemba on the other hand chose to keep scoring as an SG since he felt he got the hot hands (he probably remembered he needs to fulfill the #WinWithWalker campaign by scoring more)

JLin is a great PG and Kemba is a great SG trapped in a PG body.
That’s why JLin has a greater ceiling than Kemba in making his teammates better to accomplish more (big wins over Cavs, Spurs). Kemba can work with Lin (Raptors OT win) but too often he shoots too much (inefficiently) when he gets hot.

But the Hornets have invested in Kemba so JLin would need to find a team that needs him to be a true PG.
It’s just the NBA business.

Coach Clifford Comment on How Lin’s Game Can’t Be Measured with Statistics Only

Coach Clifford also confirmed that Jeremy Lin a much much better player with better shooting, defense & his game can’t measured by stats.

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Guess JLin's stats in Game 79 vs BKN