Jeremy Lin once lost his starting point guard position after Lakers coach Byron Scott remained upset both with the team’s record and Lin’s play.
But Scott said Lin could start within the next week. Yet, the Lakers (15-41) will still field the same starting lineup for the third consecutive game when they host the Milwaukee Bucks (32-25) on Friday at Staples Center. That will include Jordan Clarkson (point guard), Wayne Ellington (shooting guard), Ryan Kelly (small forward), Carlos Boozer (power forward) and Robert Sacre (center).
“He’s responded better off the bench,” Scott said of Lin. “But I just want to see how that goes because he hasn’t started in a while.”
The numbers actually show that Lin has fared better as a starter than reserve. Lin averaged 11.6 points on 44.9 percent shooting and five assists in 23 games as a starter, while averaging 9.9 points on a 42.2 percent clip and 4.2 assists off the bench. Yet, Lin appears more efficient off the bench considering the difference in playing time as a starter (29.6 minutes) and reserve (22.5 minutes).
Lin lost his starting point guard 20 games into the season in favor of Ronnie Price. Though Price averaged only 5.1 points on 34.5 percent shooting and 3.8 assists, Scott liked Price better on defense and how he played with Kobe Bryant. Scott also believed Lin’s athleticism fit in a bench unit that features prolific scorers in Nick Young and Boozer recently returning to the starting lineup.
Once Bryant suffered a season-ending injury to his right shoulder last month, Scott granted rookie guard Clarkson the starting point guard spot. He has averaged 13.6 points on a 43.2 percent clip and 3.7 assists in 29.3 minutes as a starter in the past 13 games. But with Price recently having season-ending right elbow surgery, Scott said he may pair Lin at shooting guard while Clarkson remains at point guard.
“I prefer to do both, to be honest,” Lin said recently. “That’s how Houston used me. That’s how I was used in college as well.”
Scott has often expressed criticism of how Lin’s decision making in running the offense. That explains why Scott said he will likely feature Lin playing more off the ball instead of running the offense, something that goes agains Lin’s wishes.
“A little more ball handling than the 2,” Lin admitted as his preference. “But I definitely prefer to have both roles. It just gives the defense different looks and me different opportunities to get out and make plays in different ways. I’m a tough player to close out to, and I feel like I can make plays in the pick and roll. So the 1 is more pick and rolls and the 2 will be more closeout situations and secondary pick and rolls. That’s very helpful.”