With the NBA trade deadline passing in the rearview mirror, Los Angeles Lakers coach Byron Scott has decided to place point guard Jeremy Lin back on the starting lineup.
According to Mark Medina of Los Angeles Daily News, Scott was initially upset with both the lackluster performance of the Lakers this season and on Lin's gameplay, which made the NBA All-Star lose his starting point guard position in the first place. For now, however, the Lakers (15-41) will use their current lineup at Staples Center on Friday against the Milwaukee Bucks (32-25), which includes point guard Jordan Clarkson, shooting guard Wayne Ellington, small forward Ryan Kelly, power forward Carlos Boozer, and center Robert Sacre.
"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."
Medina cited numbers that showed Lin faring 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," Medina wrote. "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)."
Medina noted that Lin lost his position in favor of Ronnie Price during the current NBA season. He tried to explain why Scott made that decision.
"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," Medina wrote. "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."
Thanks to the season-ending right elbow injury of Kobe Bryant, Scott had to make different decisions going forward with the rest of the season. According to Medina, one of them included pairing Lin at shooting guard while leaving Clarkson at point guard.
"I prefer to do both, to be honest," Lin said recently. "That's how Houston [Rockets] used me. That's how I was used in college as well."
The Lakers point guard elaborated to Baxter Holmes of ESPN about comparing his stats with the Rockets and now. Holmes noted that while Lin knew how to drive and make plays at the rim, he struggled shooting from the left wing as well as three-point shots.
"Things like that, I didn't know," Lin said, adding that information from the Rockets helped him shape his offseason training regimen.
Lin told Holmes that his agent also doubled as a "personal analytics assistant" who helped him interpret the significance of the numbers.
"I'm not going to overreact to some numbers," Lin said. "I want to know what they are, though."
However, he thought that compared to the Rockets, the Lakers didn't focus as much on analytics.
"[Byron Scott] told us a couple stats, but I don't know if they're necessarily that deep into analytics," Lin said of the Lakers. "They were stats about our efficiency when we score in pick-and-rolls versus isolations and some defensive numbers. But besides that, I haven't seen that much."
Although Lin expressed his preferences, Scott ultimately decided to have him play more off the ball instead of running the offense, according to Medina.
"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."
Lin added that he was a "tough player" who 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," Lin said. "That's very helpful."
As for Scott, he admitted to Holmes that he takes an "old school" approach to the game.
"I'm not so old school that I look at that stuff as a bunch of garbage," Scott said in regards to incorporating analytics into his coaching style. "I think it has a lot of value. But I'm not so into it that I think that it's the best thing in the world."