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Houston’s point guard battle still interesting, up in the air

Oct 22, 2013, 12:39 PM EDT

BASKET-US-TAIWAN-TPE-NBA-PACERS-ROCKETS-LIN Getty Images

Monday night the focus around the Houston Rockets was how Omer Asik and Dwight Howard would play together. And the answer was Asik was really rusty and so the whole thing was awkward, but it’s too early to tell how it ends (probably with an Asik trade).

However, I still find the point guard battle in Houston more interesting.

Jeremy Lin has been penciled in as the starting point guard for the Rockets, and before training camp opened he Dwight Howard reportedly had some pick-and-roll chemistry. Lin is an offensive guy and he started for the Rockets Monday night and played 33 minutes and this preseason he’s averaged 12 points on 50 percent shooting and 5.3 assists a game in 27.8 minutes.

Patrick Beverly is a much better defender and he can space the floor and knock down the three (he is 6-of-8 in the preseason). The thinking goes that if you just start him — as the Rockets have experimented with during the preseason — the team defense gets better, the offense runs through James Harden (as it should anyway) and Lin becomes the scoring spark plug off the bench. That worked pretty well at points against Indiana this preseason.

After Monday night’s exhibition against Dallas when he played the two together for a stretch, coach Kevin McHale said he had “two starting point guards” and wasn’t sure when he would make a call. McHale praised Lin, as reported at the Houston Chronicle’s Ultimate Rockets blog.

“I thought (Lin) did a lot of nice things,” coach Kevin McHale said. “He broke people down; he had eight assists. Between he and (Beverley), they had 13 assists and four turnovers. I liked when they were both in the game.”

“I thought they were both really solid (defense),” he said. “Any mistakes that they do make are mistakes because they’re trying really hard and getting after it. They stay in place. They use their hands. They’re both diligent guys.”

If Lin is even decent defensively it makes a lot of sense to start him (I don’t want to read too much into defensive improvement seen in preseason games). The fact that a very active Howard is on the back line cleaning up mistakes helps Lin. And the fact as we move closer to the season Lin is starting and getting more minutes than Beverly makes one think that is where McHale is leaning.

But the second unit lacks scoring punch, unless you are a bigger believer in Francisco Garcia or Omri Casspi than I am. Yes, there would be overlap with starters to have some scoring on the floor at all times, but there is some real logic to the Lin as a spark plug idea. He could thrive in that role if he accepted it.

McHale has a lot of interesting options to play around with, a lot of puzzle pieces to see how they fit. The point guard spot is one and it may well be Lin’s to lose, but the change has to be tempting still.

  1. mdkaton - Oct 22, 2013 at 1:09 PM

    Like Lin coming off the bench as this article suggests. Gonna need a better stopper like Beverly in the playoffs when you’re dealing with guards like Tony Parker, Curry, or Westbrook to name a few.

    BTW, I just started writing my own blog for a class on sports marketing, it’d be cool if you could check it out!

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    • jpstyles314 - Oct 23, 2013 at 12:53 AM

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      • mdkaton - Oct 23, 2013 at 2:24 AM

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  2. 00maltliquor - Oct 22, 2013 at 2:12 PM

    Lin and Asik, those some expensive arse backups off the bench!

    • adamsjohn714 - Oct 22, 2013 at 3:12 PM

      Good thing they have great value on most of their other contracts

  3. bluflower010 - Oct 22, 2013 at 2:14 PM

    As has been seen, and will be seen, JLin is more valuable to Dwight’s offense with his penetration and PnR and creative passes than Bev and his simple lobs into the post. Also when JLin is in there, Harden doesn’t have to do everything. This really should not be an issue both are good young PG’s but I give the edge to Lin..

    • bluflower010 - Oct 22, 2013 at 2:17 PM

      There is no doubt that Lin is a better play maker than Bev , but what Bev can bring to the table is ability to defense and knock down open jumpers. and those are what the Rox were struggling with last season. yet, by adding Howard this season will be a totally different story. Bev will contribute more to the team by coming off the bench,he will give this extra energy.

  4. qadrir - Oct 22, 2013 at 5:28 PM

    We have plenty of scoring we need more defense. What I’ve watched so far Bev looks solid. He is hustling, scoring, assists, rebounding a complete package. I start him and have Lin on the second unit with Garcia, Terrance, etc.

  5. zoomy123 - Oct 22, 2013 at 8:35 PM

    Oh no, say it ain’t so Joe? The guy who’s slated to make $15 M in 2014-15 will potentially be a backup?! I’m shocked, shocked and appalled!

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