Los Angeles Lakers: Sorry Kobe, Jeremy Lin Is Team’s MIP


Although Kobe will need the Los Angeles Lakers in most categories, Jeremy Lin will be the straw that stirs the drink

With Kobe Bryant set to make his long-awaited return to the Los Angeles Lakers tonight, most of the fanfare and criticism has been directed as the Laker legend.

But something that got lost in the circus that is Kobe Bryant is that the Los Angeles Lakers shrewdly acquired fifth-year point guard Jeremy Lin from the Rockets, hoping that he can recreate some of the magic from “Linsanity,” and his stint with the Knicks during the 2011-12 season.

Despite being lost in the madness and rumors that was the Los Angeles Lakers’ offseason, Lin will be front and center playing an integral role on the Lakers this year.

After Steve Nash fell victim to injury again this season, the Los Angeles Lakers suddenly became one of the most point guard-starved teams in the league, with their active point guards totaling 175 combined career starts (140 belonging to Lin) in their career, which is only more than the combined starts of Philadelphia 76ers, Utah Jazz and the Houston Rockets point guards. 

Despite being lost in the madness and rumors that was the Lakers’ offseason, Lin will be front and center, playing an integral role on the Lakers this year.

With that in mind, the acquisition and use of Lin, is as important as anything Kobe will do this season.

In addition to being the only point guard on the roster with any real previous success in the NBA, Lin also provides the scoring and playmaking threat that Los Angeles Lakers head coach Byron Scott looks for in his lead guards.

Since Scott has become an NBA head coach, his offenses have been centered around point guards such as Stephon Marbury, Jason Kidd, Baron Davis, Chris Paul, and Kyrie Irving. Knowing that rich history, it is safe to say that Scott will try to maximize Lin’s talent and use him in a similar capacity this year.

Furthermore, Scott has made it clear that he plans to shy away from the three-point line, with the Lakers attempting only 10.2 threes per game this preseason. To put that number in perspective, the Lakers attempted 24.8 threes per game last year, and the Grizzlies, who were last in the league in three point attempts, averaged 14 attempts per game.

When asked about his team’s lack of three-point shooting, Scott was even more vehement about not wanting to shoot 3’s, making it obvious that they are not part of his offensive philosophy.

"[via Mark Baxter Holmes of ESPN]I asked Lakers coach Byron Scott about his philosophy on 3-pointers. “I don’t believe it wins championships. (It) gets you to the playoffs.”"

And with a team that shot only 30.4 percent from 3 in the preseason, it may be best for Scott to encourage Lin to penetrate and create offense from the inside-out.

Without the three-point line coming into play often, Scott will encourage his team to attack the paint, and create from there. However, Scott has very few capable options other than Lin — especially with Bryant, who has lost a significant amount of his mobility due to injury and age, mostly settling for midrange jump shots (32.2 percent of his attempts were midrange jumpers in 2012-2013) at this point in his career.

The good news is that Lin is proficient in getting into the paint, taking 53 percent of his shots in the paint 2012-13, including a 56 percent success rate at shots taken inside the restricted area.

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  • Even though Lin was a decent finisher at the rim, a more indicative stat is Lin’s inclination to put the ball on the floor and drive. According to NBA.com, Lin drove to the basket at a fairly high rate last year—7.3 times per game, which was good for 21st in the NBA.

    Furthermore, Lin scored on 49.5 percent of those drives resulting in 4.2 points per game off of drives, giving him averages that were better than any current Los Angles Lakers player that played significant minutes last year.

    Maybe, most importantly, Lin provides the Los Angeles Lakers with a player and floor leader that can singlehandedly alleviate the pressure off of Bryant, something that no other player outside of the injured Nick Young can do. But unlike Young, Lin will start and have the lion’s share of minutes at his position.

    After whiffing in free agency, this incarnation of the Lakers are in for a long and arduous season, so it will be imperative for Scott to be able to preserve Bryant for late-game situations and more importantly, a late-season playoff push in a competitive Western Conference.

    With that said, the success of the Los Angeles Lakers hinges on how often Jeremy Lin can take the reins from Bryant, and if he can ultimately provide the team with a consistent off-the-dribble threat, something he didn’t always do in Houston.

    If Lin can rise to the task and lead the Los Angeles Lakers to the postseason, and maybe further than that, we will be in for Linsanity: Redux.