The name of Jeremy Lin is sure to illicit a strong reaction from any NBA fan. Back in 2012, Linsanity captivated the Big Apple as he single-handedly made the weak New York Knicks relevant and exciting. Thinking it could continue, Daryl Morey signed him to a lucrative contract, but after pitstops in Houston and Los Angeles, the bottom dropped out. Lin's magic was seemingly gone and hopes for a long career went on life support after three lackluster years.
With so little demand, he signed in Charlotte last season under the biannual exception for 2 years and $4.3 million. However, an interesting thing happened while a member of the Hornets, he sort of became relevant again. The numbers didn't springboard into the same range of his New York days, but he found a niche. His size and skill set allowed him to not only backup Kemba Walker but also provide minutes at shooting guard alongside the Hornets best player.
Why are we discussing Jeremy Lin?
Well, last night, Chris Broussard dropped one his patented out of left field bombshells, tweeting that the New Orleans Pelicans are interested in Mike Conley. That's right, a roster with Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans and strongly considering on bringing back Tim Frazier into the fold is reportedly contemplating on adding another point guard.
For the sake of argument, let's assume there exists a grain of truth in the statement. Why would the front office be interested in spending a tier 2 max of around $26 million dollars on a position of strength? At first glance it appears ludicrous, but upon further examination, some sensible conclusions can be drawn.
- Jrue Holiday has had issues staying healthy as a member of the Pelicans, and if he suffers yet another setback with that troublesome tibia, the team would be forced to go in a different direction once his contract concludes at the end of next season.
- Tyreke Evans had three knee surgeries within the span of one year begging the question, will he ever be the same physically? Further, he and Alvin Gentry had trouble seeing eye-to-eye, and many lamented the lack of pace and ball movement when he was on the floor. Like Holiday, his contract will expire in a year's time.
In my opinion, the odds of Conley leaving Memphis are small, the Pelicans signing the best free agent point guard beyond infinitesimal. Hence, if Dell Demps is interested in adding insurance for either Holiday or Evans, whether in the event of injury or perhaps a forthcoming trade, Lin presents a more realistic option.
Since leaving the Knicks, Lin was forced to play off the ball a lot as James Harden and Kobe Bryant dictated the offense.
"They were just expecting me to do what I did in New York, which — it's just not possible if you don't have the ball in your hands," Lin said last month.
In Charlotte, he posted the second highest usage percentage of his career and appeared to have regained a nice comfort level. If one of the team's existing point guards was to be removed from the Pelicans' equation, Lin would have an opportunity to be the primary decision maker in a number of instances.
Must I remind anyone that Ish Smith and Tim Frazier surpassed all sorts of expectations under Alvin Gentry? Although the current head coach often preached greater ball movement, ball dominant point guards have consistently enjoyed an immense amount of success in his systems. From Steve Nash to Chris Paul to glimpses from Holiday a year ago.
There is one problem with this line of thinking on the surface: Can Lin become a fearsome playmaker again? As a member of the Hornets, he had an assist percentage of 18.6%. 4.1 assists per 36 minutes isn't particularly useful, not when a score-first mentality has difficultly with efficiency.
However, digging into Lin's playing time estimates by position at Nylon Calculus reveals one very important fact: Lin spent nearly twice as much time at SG than PG (63.4% vs. 36.6%). At the point, Jeremy Lin beasted. His per 36 minute numbers included 18.6 ppg, 5.6 apg and 4.7 rpg. His shot efficiency from the floor was stronger too. If Lin were to join the roster in New Orleans, he would likely see most of his playing time come from the one as Holiday and Evans could slide over to the two.
Things really get interesting when looking at the other side of the floor. Lin stands 6'3'', weights around 200 pounds and has good feet. For the Hornets last season, he was effective defensively at both guard positions. His -0.18 DRPM was 20th among point guards, sitting within striking distance of Conley and John Wall. Charlotte's defensive rating was notably stronger when he was on the floor, in both the regular season and playoffs.
The latest news out of Charlotte is that the team doesn't believe they will be able to re-sign their valuable reserve point guard. With Nicolas Batum and Marvin Williams taking priority, the Hornets are not expected to have sufficient remaining cap space to bring back Lin. He has made it known he's looking for more stability, and has three anonymous meetings set for July 1st.
Would it be the worst thing if the Pelicans are one of the teams?