I’m Okay with Lin Being 6th Man IF He Finishes Games

So, there’s been a lot of talk about Lin not starting in the game against the Pacers in Manila. I actually wasn’t too surprised, as I expected McHale to experiment with Lin and Beverley in the preseason. As for whether or not this had anything to do with the whole McFale/Lin dynamics I’ve discussed in the past, the jury is still out on that. I’m sure there’s some of it, because McHale has said in the past that you want your starters to be the BEST five players on the team. So, him even considering not starting Lin does tell me that he doesn’t consider Lin being clearly one of the five best players on the team. But setting the McFale/Lin dynamics all aside, I can understand the decision to use Lin as a sixth man ala Ginobili.

Here’s my reasoning for it. Lin makes ANY four guys on the floor better, because he’s the consummate floor general. He just knows how to play the game the way it’s supposed to be played. What was so captivating about Linsanity in New York is it brought back the fun in basketball. After endless Melo iso’s, the ball finally moved around and a bunch of no-names, such as Steve Novak, suddenly played like stars. And MOST importantly Linsanity won games. This is what Lin does. He makes his teammates better and helps teams win games.

There’s no doubt Parsons, Howard, and Harden (PHH) are better with Lin on the floor. The second unit is also better with Lin in the floor. Like I said, Lin makes ANY four guys on the floor better. So, as a coach, trying to figure out what is best for the team, I think an argument can be made for bringing Lin off the bench to help bring cohesion to the second unit. In other words, the second unit needs Lin a lot more than the starters need Lin, because Beverley can’t run the offense. The bench needs someone to run the show a lot more than PHH do. I’m not saying that PHH doesn’t need someone who can run the offense. I’m just saying that they don’t need it as much as the second unit. And, there is only one Jeremy Lin. I didn’t see the first quarter of the game, so I’m not sure how Howard faired without Lin. That would be the main concern with using Lin as a sixth man, since Howard is now a big focus for the Rockets. And that all depends on how well Harden can work with Howard.

Against the lowly Pelicans, the Rockets second unit looked discordant on both ends of the court, but against a great Pacers team, the second unit looked like stars for the Rockets, all because Lin was running the show. There was a lot of cohesion and guys like D-Mo looked great. There’s a lot of talk about Beverley’s defense. And there’s no denying the amount of effort that Beverley puts forth on the defensive end. But what is often overlooked is that Lin is also a great defender. What separates Lin from Beverley, on the defensive end, is that Lin is an all-around great defender, while Beverley is just great at harassing his man. Lin is good at harassing his man, but he also understands spacing and has excellent instincts on the defensive end. This is how Lin gets so many steals. He’s able to anticipate where the ball is going and he knows when to lay off his man and focus on helping out on another man. Of course, sometimes he gets caught and looses his man. But this is just the risk you take if you are trying to help out on defense. All this is to say that too much is made of needing Beverley’s defense to start the game. I think that’s total bogus. The ONLY reason why you wouldn’t start Lin is not because of Beverley’s harassing defense (i.e., Beverley’s main strength), it is because of Beverley’s main deficiencies (i.e., running the offense). Like I’ve said in the past, Beverley and Toney Douglas are like twin brothers to me, but Beverley is just a better Toney Douglas. I never saw Toney Douglas as a Point Guard. He’s just an under-sized Shooting Guard and that’s EXACTLY what Beverley is. So when he’s the only guy running the offense, then you’re in trouble. This is why it makes sense to use Lin as a sixth man. Again, the main concern is how Howard does without Lin. Only time will tell.

Lin may also be able to up his scoring average playing as a sixth man. And Lin does look even more aggressive playing with the second unit, because he no longer has to defer to Harden. So it could be a very good thing for Lin to be the sixth man in the same way that Ginobili is the sixth man for the Spurs and in the same way that Harden was for the Thunder. What this means is that Lin needs to finish nearly all if not all of the games this season.

There’s no doubt in my mind that this season is Linsanity 2.0. Lin looks really good. And if you don’t see this, then you’re still blinded by your preconceptions of Lin. He was able to work on his game injury-free in the off season and he looks ready to play. If Lin wasn’t the third or fourth option on a team, Lin would be averaging All-Star numbers. I know many will scoff at this as being Lin fanaticism. But if Lin manages to average 14.5+ scoring this season and 5.5+ assists as a third or fourth option with a low usage rate, then those are All-Star numbers, because he would be averaging 20+ and 8+ assists if he was on any other team that didn’t have two superstars (one of whom needs the ball in his hands, just as much as Lin).

Anyway, that’s a whole other discussion. The most important part about Lin being sixth man is that he needs to finish nearly all if not all of the games this season. And this is where the whole McFale/Lin dynamics comes into play. If McHale uses Lin as a sixth man and lets Lin finish nearly all if not all of the games this season, then using Lin as a sixth man is not influenced by the whole McFale/Lin dynamics. If Lin doesn’t finish games, then this is ALL about the McFale/Lin dynamics. I don’t care how McHale wants to spin it in press conferences, saying that he needs Beverley’s defense at the end of games. The truth is, Lin every bit as good of a defender, because Lin is an excellent all around defender, whereas Beverley is an elite on-ball defender. So there’s no reason to not let Lin finish games, unless you have your blinders on and fool yourself into thinking that Lin is not a good defender because there’s no way some Asian from Harvard can keep up with NBA players.

I think McHale and the coaching staff is honestly still trying to figure out whether or not they want to start Lin or Beverley. So I don’t think they’ve made up their minds. And I don’t blame them, because it really is a difficult decision. The Pacers game in Manila does give a lot of credibility to using Lin as a sixth man to run the show with the second unit. I think it does make the Rockets more dangerous as a team. Rockets are going to have the deepest bench in the NBA and I think they’ll have a top offense and a top defense. This Rockets team looks so scary, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they end up winning the whole thing. No one expects them to, but I just don’t see how any team is going to stop this Rockets team, as long as there are no major injuries. But this is a whole other discussion.

Apparently, McHale will be alternating their starting positions throughout the pre-season, so Lin will start in Taiwan. I don’t mind this experimentation and I think it’s smart for McHale to use the pre-season to test out different lineups. That’s one big part of what the season is like and when you have a deep team like the Rockets do, that becomes even more critical. I just hope that once he figures it out, he sticks with the same starters for nearly all if not all of the regular season games. I don’t think it’s good to keep switching lineups at whim. At least this is my initial bias. That being said, I do expect McHale to continue to play with the starting lineup during the regular season. Who knows, it may be good strategically to keep starting lineups fluid. I just think it might have an adverse effect on team chemistry. But I’m sort of open to it. At the end of the day, all I care about is that Lin finishes the games and plays 30+ minutes a game. If McHale allows him AT LEAST that, then Lin will take it from there. Thank you very much.


35 thoughts on “I’m Okay with Lin Being 6th Man IF He Finishes Games

  1. With Lin, Asik, D-Mo/Jones, Garcia and Casspi, the Rockets will be deep indeed. My only concern is playing time. If Mchale can rotate the 1st unit and 2nd unit with equal importance, it would be a really fun game to watch. It would also make sure that no player will run out of gas towards the end. However, in the last season, McHale is known to extend certain players on the floor to pad their stats, sometimes to the detriment of the game.

    • Gabriel, I complained a lot about McHale’s rotations last season–in particular how he ran guys like Harden and Parsons to the ground. He better not do that this season, because he really has no excuse. We have plenty of bodies. I don’t expect him to give equal importance to the 1st and 2nd unit, but I do expect him to not run Howard, Harden and Parsons to the ground.I think giving guys rest so they’re fresh is a highly overlooked aspect of coaching. McHale really neglects this to an extreme degree. We lost plenty of games because our guys ran out of gas in the fourth quarter.

  2. Fortune cookie #9 says, ‘It’s not how you start but how you finish that is important.’ But common sense says, ‘if you don’t start, you don’t finish.’ I am confused. O.o

    • lol “it matters not that you start but only matters if you finish. but, if you neither start or finish, then you’re jeremy lin playing for mchale.”

      • Ha, you’re some cookie forturne, etane! 🙂
        Hey, I really appreciate the effort you took to detail and explain JL7’s plus-minus number on your Lintelligentsia blog. Numbers don’t lie but do not tell the whole story, as they say.
        BTW, I think there is only one L in Manila (unless you are purposely trying to match it with “unthrilla”).

    • Ha ha, MrPingPong. Yeah, it’s a tricky thing and a big concern for me, because even when Lin was starting, McHale would bench Lin in the fourth quarter. So if Lin is coming off the bench, McHale can bench Lin in the fourth quarter with not much consequence. We’ll see. This is why I think Lin finishing or not finishing games is the litmus test for whether or not this tactic to have Lin come off the bench has anything to do with the whole McFale/Lin dynamic. After a healthy off-season, Lin is all set to do very well this season Linsanity 2.0 style and help the team win and win big. Just a matter of whether or not McHale’s blinders will allow him to see this. If anyone belongs in the fourth quarter, Lin does. A big aspect of Linsanity is the fourth quarter. The problem is, McHale doesn’t recognize that the Jeremy Lin he’s coaching is the same guy single-handedly responsible for Linsaity.

      To be fair, McHale has said some good things about Lin so far in the pre-season. But it’s his actions that count. So we’ll just wait and see what happens.

      • If I were McHale I would have started JL7 in Manila and then un-start him in Taipei. That would teach LOFs a lesson! Oops, sorry, I am glad I’m not McHale.

  3. Honestly, I’m wondering if McHale is testing this lineup due to injury concerns, both current (ie. Asik, Garcia, Smith) and future (what if one of main guys have an injury like we did towards the end with both Harden and Parsons last seasons?).

    In theory, with Asik, Garcia, and Smith all healthy, there’ll be both enough offense and defense in the second unit for Lin to start.

    In any case, I’m not stressed about Lin this season, it’s gonna be great so long as he’s healthy (KNOCK ON WOOD).

    • Yeah, emz, good to see you here again.
      No injury, that the most important thing for me.
      I want to see JL7 play for a long time in the NBA.

    • Thanks for the link, MrPingPong! See, I told you this Chris guy is an avid Lin supporter. I’m glad he’s out there in the somewhat mainstream media fighting the good fight. I even posted a somewhat hasty comment on his article this time.

    • For such a scathing article, there’s surprisingly a lot of well thought out comments. Not what I expected at all.

    • Culturemap is a free pamphlet like greensheet. I am a fan too. But if you were from Houston, you’d realize how absolutely silly you look when you call this handout uproar everywhere/mainstream. LOL! Pom pom kids and their boy crushes. 😀

      • I see. Yeah, that’s why I said “somewhat mainstream” since I’m not familiar with the publication and don’t live in Houston. At least it’s not some loser like me writing a blog, right? Ha ha.

        Thank for giving me some context about Culturemap. Now I have a little better idea. I was curious about what type of publication it is. That’s helpful, but lets do away with the name calling next time. Thanks for your comment!

  4. Once you accept the fact that he’s just a poor to regular point guard in the NBA who had a fluke in New york, it will hurt less when he’s benched for superior players. Every coach and play by play announcer in the NBA is correct when they say Beverley should be starting and finishing games. Who cares if it makes a tiny minority of bandwagon fans angry? Nobody cares about them, including Jeremy. Sorry guys but this is the truth, like it or not. The majority of real NBA fans will agree as well. Maybe this is why Lin’s fans are always so bitter and angry.?

    • I have to disagree. His NY run wasn’t fluke, it was because nobody expected him to do anything so they didn’t play defense on him. Linsanity died 😦 when he got scouted in his one dimentional drive and flop routine. Also he’s not poor in defense. Just slow and can’t keep up with most, but he plays good team defense when he let’s the dribbler go by (funneling) Dwight picks them up. If Lin wasn’t there, DH12 won’t get as many blocks.
      “The majority of real NBA fans will agree as well.” WHAT? The majority of fans don’t even know basketball like us Lin fans do. We watch him very closely and don’t take our eyes off him. So we know everything he does better than anyone! Analysts only think Beverley is better because he is so fast, play heavy defense, make plays for everyone, court vision, and shoots better 3pts, but he can’t pass as good as Lin (behind back for example). But Lin is better passer than Beverley, and almost as good as Harden. When he learn to be good passer like Harden, the team will trust him with the ball more and pass it to him when he gets better shooting. He works very hard and will improve his game and low self esteem. One day he will be good as Harden and Beverley, then he will be team captain and maybe all star or olympics champion!

      • I also foreget to add he has fans all over, almost as many as Dwight Howard, Harden, and Lebron, so the Rockets better keep him to make a lot of money off him. Even though Dwight and Harden and the other teammates beside Parson don’t like him as much as Beverley, they still want to keep him on team because everyone know he’s very nice!

      • Hey NBA Rocks, you also for(e)got to add the appropriate foreign language translation of your post, for those of us who do not understand your subtle sarcasm. 🙂

        我不同意。他在紐約的運行是沒有僥倖,那是因為沒人預料到他做任何事,所以他們並沒有發揮他的防守。林來瘋去世時,他得到了球探在他的一個二維驅動器​​和觸發器常規。此外,他不窮防守。只是慢,無法跟上最多,但他扮演好球隊的防守時,他讓運球(漏斗)德懷特挑選他們去。如果林是不存在的, DH12不會得到盡可能多的塊。
        “大多數真正的NBA球迷會同意。 ”什麼?廣大球迷甚至不知道像我們林球迷做的籃球。我們看他很密切,不要拿我們的眼睛他。所以,我們知道他所做的一切比任何人都好!分析師認為貝弗利是更好,因為他是如此之快,發揮重重防禦,使戲劇大家,法院視覺,拍攝更好的3分,但他不能越過不如林(背後) 。但林比貝弗利更好的傳球手,和哈登幾乎一樣好。當他學習是很好的傳球手像哈登,球隊將信任他球,並把它傳遞給他時,他得到更好的拍攝。他工作很辛苦,會提高他的比賽和低自尊。有一天,他會好哈登和貝弗利,那麼他將是球隊的隊長,也許全明星或奧運冠軍!

        May abundant peace be with you always.

    • Thank you for all the great evidence and analysis to back up your points, Excellent work, “Sports Analyst”. And thanks for spreading misinformation on this board.

  5. I’m startin to see why errbody hates these asian bandwagoners. They think he’s so special that he should get special treatment. Most ofthem act like they deserve special treatment too. Livvng vicariously through Lin into a whole new level of sad and pathetic. Like him, they have really low self image issues and not many friends, and he is their only way of feeling popular so they defend him with all their might. Most of em are either girls or on the down low. And they say Mcfale like its some clever nickname, but it only shows they a bunch of bitter middle schooler “underdogs” (losers). It’s pinche loco, esos cabrones.

    • I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this matter. I’ll give you a week to gather your thoughts and return with something constructive to say. Otherwise, I will delete this comment as it adds nothing to the discussion. Thanks for taking the time to comment, at least.

    • Ha ha on the McFale. I actually use the term as a technical term to encapsulate the strange dynamics between McHale and Lin. It’s a shorthand. So I don’t have to go through and talk about something that takes a 40 minute video to actually do it justice. When I’m referring to Kevin the coach and the person, I refer to him as McHale. I don’t use “McFale” to refer to Kevin the persona and the coach.

  6. GOOD ARTICLE! thou sit on the bench cause being better sounds pretty shitty and sad
    a question here….when will he / why cant he be the 1st man?

  7. Pingback: 我說(isay)豪迷專區-完整記錄林書豪火箭之旅 ﹝翻譯文﹞如果林能夠完結比賽,我能接受他做為第六人 | 我說(isay)豪迷專區-完整記錄林書豪火箭之旅

  8. I think one thing is being overlooked as regards Lin possibly being on the bench: Respect, which McHale has none of when it comes to Lin as a player. You mentioned Manu being the 6th man on the Spurs. The major difference here between Manu and Lin’s possible situation is that Popovich has a ton of respect for El Contusion, even if he wants to strangle him half the time, lol. Sadly, the dynamic between Lin and McHale is not based on respect, at least on McHale’s part.

    I’m really starting to believe that McHale, for whatever reason, (maybe he’s trying to save face and show he was correct in releasing Lin the first time), really dislikes Lin as a player and is trying his best to set him up for failure. If Lin does end up on the bench, it won’t be because they have a better starting PG, or because Lin is better running the 2nd unit, it will be because McHale is looking to demote and degrade him as player. A Coach, regardless of how he feels about a player or his game, is supposed to build players up, NOT tear them down.

    • Thanks for your comment BBallFANNYC! I’m not sure if you’re referring to me overlooking the whole respect thing. If so, then believe me, that’s something I don’t overlook.

      That’s why I included a link to this video, which I made last season so I and other Lin fans can reference whenever they want to bring up the whole respect thing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MPStYh4Zxj8

      And, yes, it does take over 40 minutes to fully discuss this complex issue in a fair manner.

      My shorthand for this whole respect thing is “McFale/Lin dynamics”. So in my post, I did write the following: “The most important part about Lin being sixth man is that he needs to finish nearly all if not all of the games this season. And this is where the whole McFale/Lin dynamics comes into play. If McHale uses Lin as a sixth man and lets Lin finish nearly all if not all of the games this season, then using Lin as a sixth man is not influenced by the whole McFale/Lin dynamics. If Lin doesn’t finish games, then this is ALL about the McFale/Lin dynamics.”

  9. OK folks, just making conversation here, while waiting for the game to start.

    Though Taipei is thousands of miles away, pressure is still being felt here in Houston: not only pressure on JL7 to perform in front of the “home” crowd, but also pressure on the Pacers to show the world that they are real contenders and not just a bunch of sleep deprived zombies from Manila.

    According Youtube videos from Taipei, it seems like JL7 went shrimp fishing while his co-workers were checking out the Taipei night life last night. Dunno what the Pacers are doing to prepare themselves, but I’m sure coach Vogel has a plan to limit the crowd and take JL7 out of the game, I mean ‘limit JL7 and take the crowd out of the game’.

    OK, let me cut to the chase and make a bold prediction here: JL7 will boss! 🙂

    Enjoy the game everyone, wherever you are on this WEB!

    • I hate to drum it up, but I called it, didn’t I?
      JL7 is the boss!


      Have a good night/morning/afternoon/evening everyone, wherever you are on this WEB!

      • You were right, MrPingPong. Lin did boss! Very happy for him. I saw the entire game for the first time this pre-season. Great that McHale put Lin back in towards the end so the crowd could give him an ovation. McHale didn’t do Lin dirty this time. Ha ha.

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