Kevin McHale has elected to go with Patrick Beverley at point guard October 30 against the Charlotte Bobcats, which immediately makes Lin a candidate for the Sixth Man of the Year Award.
Throughout the summer and fall, I was steadfast in my belief that the Rockets would be better off bringing Lin, a defensive liability who had trouble meshing with Rockets star James Harden last season, off the bench. Now, Lin coming off the bench is not just a guess, projection, or wishful thinking -- it's a reality.
Did Kevin McHale make the right move? Of course he did. With Beverley starting, the Rockets' starting lineup will be significantly better defensively, and pretty much the same offensively. Beverley isn't an offensive powerhouse by any means, but he is better in catch-and-shoot situations than Lin, which is something that's increasingly important for the new-look Rockets, who will need ample space for their newest superstar, Dwight Howard, to operate in the post.
The two most important things to remember about Lin's benching is that it will have a positive impact on Houston, and that it doesn't mean that Patrick Beverley is "better" than Lin. With Lin leading the second unit, the Rockets will boast one of the most offensively dynamic benches in the NBA. Lin will thrive in his new role as sixth man, and there's no doubt in my mind that he'll be a candidate for Sixth Man of the Year.
In the 2011-12 season, Harden won the Sixth Man of the Year Award while playing for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Despite being the third overall pick by Oklahoma City in 2009, Harden started just seven games in three years for the Thunder, who chose to start a defensive-minded wing in Thabo Sefolosha at the 2. Was Sefolosha a "better" player than Harden? Of course not. Harden's role as the leader of the second unit was instrumental in helping the Thunder make it to the NBA Finals in 2012, which justified Scott Brooks' decision.
Obviously, Lin is nowhere near as talented of a player as Harden (despite what some misguided individuals may have convinced themselves), but he definitely can make a run for Sixth Man of the Year. Six of the last seven players who have won the Sixth Man of the Year Award were guards, which bodes well for Lin. I project that Lin will still get heavy minutes, and although it might be hard for him to match the 32.1 minutes per game he averaged last season, 28 minutes a night still sounds within the realm of possibility.
In sports, we have a lot of close-minded thinking. We label things "good" or "bad" and we believe wholeheartedly that we're correct. While Lin's benching will certainly drive some Lin enthusiasts crazy, the truth is that the move was a no-brainer.
Who would you rather have running a loaded second unit: a defense-first floor general like Patrick Beverley or a dynamic offensive force like Lin, who blends the skill set of a 1 and a 2 (just like Jason Terry and Jamal Crawford, who both have Sixth Man of the Year Awards in their trophy cases)? I'll take Lin, and apparently, so will Kevin McHale.
The bottom line is that Lin will have a fantastic season as the Rockets' sixth man, and that he'll offensive prowess will be magnified against opposing second units. Expect Lin to look fantastic as the first guy off the Rockets bench, and also expect him to still get some late-game minutes alongside Harden, especially when he has the hot hand.
M. De Moor is an NBA junkie and the writer of "The Daily Fix" on Hoopshabit.com. He has followed the Rockets from the championship days of Hakeem Olajuwon, to the years of Francis and Mobley, to the McGrady and Yao era, and will continue to follow them through Harden and Dwight's reign of destruction.
- Sports & Recreation
- Houston Rockets
- Jeremy Lin
- Patrick Beverley
- James Harden