The Houston Rockets made a big change this summer, bringing Dwight Howard on board as a free agent. His presence relegated Omer Asik to a smaller role, a year after starting all 82 games at center for a team that made the playoffs. Another Rockets player with a poison pill contract is also being replaced in the starting lineup: Rockets point guard Jeremy Lin will come off the bench tonight in favor of Patrick Beverley.
The news of the lineup change, which includes D-12 at power forward and Asik starting at center, was inadvertently revealed by Chandler Parsons a day before coach Kevin McHale was going to make the news public.
Chandler Parsons confirmed the starting 5 will be same as what they ended preseason with. PBev, JH, CP, DH, Omer. #Rockets
— AdamWexlerCSN (@awexler) October 29, 2013
The response has been muted, since there were signs Lin might have lost his starting place during preseason. There was that sequence of possessions in Houston’s opening preseason game where Beverley went HAM on Jrue Holiday and may have tweaked the latter’s ego in the process.
There were a couple other preseason games were Beverley showed he was a drastic improvement over Lin on the defensive side of the ball, and had improved his jumper and ball-handling enough to make up for any loss of Lin’s fluency on the offensive end.
But since Beverley is a second round pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, some have taken this opportunity to castigate Lin for failing to work hard enough to keep his starting spot.
It's weird that the sentiment regarding HOU's PG situation is "hard-working Beverley beats out hyped Lin" as if Lin wasn't also undrafted.
— Adam Reisinger (@AdamReisinger) October 30, 2013
But that’s not quite true, and despite the poison pill deal GM mastermind Daryl Morey used to scare the Knicks away from matching to bring Lin back after his historic Linsanity winter, Jeremy was — and is — a reclamation project that toiled on the fringes of the league before his Knicks ascension.
Now, with Beverley not-so-firmly ensconced as the starter tonight, we’ll get to see Jeremy lead Houston’s second team. This is good for Jeremy, too, though. He can putter around with the ball always in his hands and poke and prod a second team defense until he finds the crack he needs for one of his quick drives. He can loft runners with ease and not worry about pissing Dwight or James Harden off.
On the Beverley side, the Rockets get better defensively on the perimeter at the start of the game with PB&J (new nickname for Beverley that I just started) shadowing whichever guard is the most trouble. With D-12 and Asik on the block, and Beverley hounding opposing ball-handlers, it just got a lot harder to score on the Rockets’ first team despite their chaotic pace.
Beverley is excited, obviously. On opening night last season, he was playing professionally in Russia. He told the Houston Chronicle‘s Jonathan Feigen, he wouldn’t let the change alter his preparation:
“I haven’t had the fortune to play in the NBA on opening night,” Beverley said. “This will be my first one. I am definitely excited.”
He said he wouldn’t be restless or nervous heading into the contest.
“You don’t want to change anything,” Beverley said. “We have been preparing for a while. Go in. Do what we need to do. Of course, it’s the first game, so it will be in the back of your mind.”
Lin, always thinking team-first, despite the change, said he’d accept his role, no matter what it is.
While it might be hard for some fans to stomach Lin’s apparent downgrade to a glorified (and highly compensated) sixth man, it might be the perfect situation for him to again inherit the small-ball stroke that favored him so well in New York, but without incurring the wrath of aggrieved starters. Lin is a ball dominant point in the vein of a score-first Steve Nash; Beverley is a ball hawking point who can shoot, but doesn’t need the ball to help his team win.
This might work out better for both talented guards even if its — so far — felt like a major bummer for Lin aficionados.
What do you think?
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