Jeremy Lin had one of the best games of his career last night, scoring 38 points on 11-21 shooting and dishing out 7 assists in his team’s overtime loss to the Spurs.The most important factor in the breakout game — James Harden didn’t play.
Lin has struggled this year. But 20 games of evidence has shown us that he hasn’t magically lost all the skills he had in New York last year, he’s simply a bad match with Harden. Their skills are redundant, and Lin needs to be the primary ball handler.
Here are Lin’s stats with and without Harden on the court this year. He’s scoring twice as much, taking more shots, getting to the free throw line three times as much, and shooting better from distance when Harden isn’t in:
[credit provider=”NBA.com/Stats” url=”http://www.nba.com/advancedstats/player-vs-player.html#Jeremy-Lin-vs-James-Harden%7C202391,201935;year=201213;season=r”]
Right now, only about 15% of Lin’s minutes are coming without Harden on the court.
There’s a relatively simple fix — just stagger their minutes. You can still start Lin and Harden if you want to, but shuffling the rotation so Lin is always on the court when Harden is resting would make everyone better, especially Lin.