The Houston Rockets may have Jeremy Lin come off the bench this year. During a recent interview, head coach Kevin McHale admitted that this was a move he was strongly considering. And while a lot of people would view a change like this as significant, McHale tried to minimize it by saying that Patrick Beverley and Lin splitting time at the point guard slot wouldn’t be a huge deal at all.
Shortly after McHale made his comments, a number of outlets began to report that benching Lin would result in him having a reduced role with the team. Nothing could be further from the truth. While coming off the bench would decrease the 25-year-old’s total playing time by seven to ten minutes, it would actually increase his role significantly.
Whereas in the starting lineup he constantly has to defer to James Harden, and this year would have to defer to Dwight Howard, if Lin were to come off the bench he’d be able to run the offense entirely through himself. It would be a lot like what Manu Ginobili and Jamal Crawford have going for them with the San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Clippers, respectively.
The problem here is that people are conflating playing time and importance to team. Those two things are not one in the same.
After McHale said what he said, Lin and Beverley were pressed on how they felt about the potential roster shakeup. They both said all the right things, as you would expect, but what’s more important is that they understood the logic behind the move.
"We have different strengths," Lin told the Houston Chronicle. "[Beverley] is such a good defender and shooter. I am better with the ball in my hands, attacking. I think that makes us tough to scout, and it gives us the opportunity to give a lot of different looks."
And Beverley realizes that him being inserted into the starting lineup is more about his defense and ability to fill the gaps.
"I've gotta get in where I fit in," he said. "I know I can't make big offensive plays the way (Lin) does. He is really good at that, and I am working on it. I know I can get in there on defense and make those plays, though."
The media will try to spin Lin’s benching into a negative because, well, that’s the way it goes. But it shouldn’t be regarded that way by basketball fans. It’s a total win-win for all involved.