When it comes to whether the Houston Rockets should play Jeremy Lin or Patrick Beverley off the bench, there is no debate. Anyone who watched this team over the course of the last year knows the answer to that question.
Lin should come off the bench, Beverley should start.
The fans realized this a long time ago. Ditto with the players. And thankfully, it appears as though Kevin McHale has finally gotten to the place where most of us were before Beverley stepped up and showed how solid of a fill-in he can be at the one-guard spot.
When McHale announced two weeks ago that he was contemplating moving Lin to the bench and Beverley into the starting lineup, that was his way of dipping his toe into the water. He knew that the move was inevitable, and he knew that it would rub some people the wrong way. At the same time, it’s so clearly the decision that has to be made that he didn’t have much of a choice. Even with James Harden on the roster, last season’s expectations were minimal. This year, with Dwight Howard, it’s Conference Finals or bust.
Lin and Beverley are smart enough to understand that their fates have already been decided. McHale told the Houston Chronicle this week that he still hadn’t made up his mind regarding who would start at point guard, but that’s nonsense. He made up his mind as soon as he expressed a tiny bit of doubt regarding the matter.
Fortunately for McHale, Lin and Beverley have decided to take the heat off him. Speaking to the Chronicle recently, both men said all the right things regarding the inevitable shake-up.
“Obviously, I would love to start,” Lin said. “I think every player would love to start but I think given our current situation, being able to being an offensive spark off the bench, being able to be a primary ball handler in that second group are big things too.”
And that’s the main reason for the move. Because Lin is so much better offensively than Beverley, forcing him to play beside Harden is basically like locking him down in place. Off the bench, the 25-year-old will be able to spread his wings and utilize all of his skills against inferior defenders in a way that Beverley never could.
“Coach and I and Pat have all talked. At the end of the day, we are all trying to do what’s right for the team. Egos aside, we are just trying to go out there and play. Who starts isn’t important.”
Beverley also says he’s fine with whatever McHale decides.
“I accept my role,” he told reporters. “We have three proven starting point guards. All three have started here (Beverley, Lin and Aaron Brooks). Me and Jeremy know each other well. We play together well too. He is a phenomenal playmaker. I try to pick his brain as much as I can. He is one of my best friends. It makes our team that much better. It’s a great thing – it can go anyway. We are just teammates and we are playing well together.”
McHale says his final decision will be made Wednesday, but everyone knows he made his mind up weeks ago: Beverley will be a starter, Lin will be a reserve.