Is it Time For the Charlotte Hornets to Start Jeremy Lin?

Jeremy Lin is making the most out of every opportunity that he has been given by the Charlotte Hornets and fresh off of a 35 point performance, it is time for him to get more minutes and possibly start.

Jeremy Lin got only his second start of the season for the Charlotte Hornets against the Toronto Raptors because of Nicolas Batum being out for the game. Batum was out with an illness and head coach, Steve Clifford, decided to roll with Lin in the starting line-up.

Lin did not disappoint with his play. He made the most of his opportunity and scored a game high 35 points to go along with four assists and five rebounds in a game high 47 minutes played. He made Clifford and the Hornets look very smart with their decision.

Lin was not only great in the team’s win over the Raptors, he was efficient and he was the best player on the floor that night. He shot 13-22 from the field and 7-9 from the free throw line. He led the team to the win and was the main reason that Charlotte was even in that game without Batum.

Jeremy is averaging 11.5 points per game, 2.9 assists per game, and 2.8 rebounds per game while shooting 42.9% from the field and 30.7% from three so far this year for Charlotte in 24.6 minutes per game.

Compare Lin’s stats to Charlotte Hornets starter, P.J. Hairston, who is only averaging 5.0 points per game, 0.7 assists per game, and 2.4 rebounds per game this season in 18.0 minutes per game.

Let’s take a closer look at their stats per 36 minutes and per 100 possessions.

Lin per 36 minutes – 16.9 ppg, 4.3 apg, and 4.2 rpg

Hairston per 36 min – 10.1 ppg, 1.4 apg, and 4.8 rpg

Lin per 100 possessions – 23.4 ppg, 5.9 apg, and 5.8 rpg

Hairston per 100 possessions – 14.0 ppg, 1.9 apg, and 6.7 rpg

He has obviously outplayed fellow teammate and starter, P.J. Hairston, this season in almost every single facet of the game. This means that Lin should start over Hairston right?

Wrong. Jeremy Lin should not start for the Charlotte Hornets.

Lin has played great and will continue to play great off of the bench for the Hornets. I am not trying to take anything away from Jeremy. He has been a great acquisition by the Hornets and he will continue to contribute heavily to the team for the rest of the year. He will be their sixth man and help the team win games night in and night out.

Jeremy was signed to be the sixth man of this team and to carry the bench ball handling and scoring. He has done a great job of leading the second unit and getting others involved.

He also gets the fifth most minutes on the team which are basically starters’ minutes. Lin is averaging six more minutes per game than Hairston plus Jeremy is getting crunch time minutes down the stretch of games. He is the guy the team rides with to closeout games.

P.J. Hairston is the starter for the Charlotte Hornets because he is filling the role of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. When MKG went down for the season, the Hornets needed to fill that wing defender role. Some thought Nicolas Batum would fill that role and he could but he has been given more of an offensive responsibility this season and if basically the team’s second ball handler and one of the main creators on that end of the floor.

Batum is great on the defensive end of the floor and can shut down almost any player on the opposing team but coach Clifford does not want Nic to get tired out early in games by defending the best player on the other team. He instead gives that responsibility to Hairston who has proved that he can get the job done on most nights.

Hairston won’t score or create or even be close to as good as Lin but he doesn’t have to be. He just needs to defend at a high level and knock down open three-point shots which he has done and is getting better at as the season has progressed.

I’m not going to give you a bunch of numbers and stats to prove my argument. The NBA isn’t always about numbers. It’s about flow and rotation. Steve Clifford, the Charlotte Hornets staff, and organization are a lot smarter than any of us and they know what they’re doing. They have a rotation that works for this team.

The Charlotte Hornets are 15-10 on the season and have surpassed everyone’s expectations so far this year. There is not anything wrong with this team. They are playing great and will continue to have a great season with the line-up and rotation that they have been using and will continue to use.

Jeremy Lin is clearly one of the best and most important players on the team but his role is to lead the second unit. He will have games where he leads the team in scoring and starts when someone is out due to injury. He will have big games and help this team to a playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.

It isn’t about how much Lin is used, it is more about how he is used. When he has been used correctly by Steve Clifford, he has had huge games. When he has been misused, he sits on the bench or in the corner. Clifford and the Charlotte Hornets need to learn how to use Lin better and it will make the entire team better as a whole.

Check back with Swarm and Sting for the latest news and analysis for the Charlotte Hornets.

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