Before I go any further, I want to talk about the Charlotte Hornets. With this being a shorter preview, it's important to discuss the team opponent before we get to the guy that the media will feed us as the story of the game.
The Charlotte Hornets are 15-11 this season, which would be good for fourth place in the West but is unbelievably only good enough for seventh in the East. They are averaging almost 103 points per game while holding their opponents under 100. When Steve Clifford got the job in Charlotte, many of us expected a defensive mindset. As an assistant coach to Jeff van Gundy here in Houston we had a decent idea of what direction MJ was going with the hire.
Charlotte made a decision that many around the league scratched their heads at, which was the trade for Nicolas Batum. The Hornets gave up Gerald Henderson and Noah Vonleh in the deal, at least one of whom most figured would be a building block for the franchise. Batum was coming off injuries and had not looked like himself the previous season in Portland.
Batum has rewarded the Hornets' faith in him thus far, averaging 16/7/5 and continuing his tradition of Swiss Army knifing night in and night out (h/t Clyde Drexler).
Of course there are other pieces. Kemba Walker is still Kardiac Kemba. Marvin Williams and P.J. Hairston are the guys you don't expect to beat you but always seem to contribute during runs and comebacks. Jeremy Lamb is showing the confidence that he never had in Oklahoma City. And Frank Kaminsky, Spencer Hawes, and Cody Zeller (a personal favorite) are holding it down in the middle while Al Jefferson missed time with a calf issue and now serves a five-game suspension for marijuana use.
And then there's Jeremy Lin.
Oh Jeremy, we had such fun times. Honestly, I think no one had an issue with Lin other than the occasional "Why isn't he more aggressive?" issue that has cropped up again with a former Denver point guard. Or when he stepped on the line for EVERY SINGLE THREE POINTER. But other than that, no one had beef with the guy. He was always (and assuredly still is) a stand-up guy who has serious basketball talent and is deservedly a role model to many children worldwide.
But his fans. Oh, his fans. The Dream Shake has been able to keep several of the good crop of Lin fans who migrated from the Knicks thankfully. And we're glad they stuck around because they add to the basketball conversation every day and are courteous and logical in their discussion.
However, I would be kidding myself if I didn't say I was happy to see a chunk of LOF (Lin-only fans) jump ship and become Lakers "fans" after Lin was traded. Selfishly, I expected fireworks early and often between Lin fans and Kobe fans, easily the two most stubborn fanbases in the league. I expected Silver Screen and Roll to turn to ash by week 2 of the NBA season. Kobe's injury robbed us of something that was our birthright. Ah well.
I hope Lin does well in Charlotte and I wish him a great NBA career. May he one day be a Hall of Famer, because I like the guy and I like lots of players and I hope they all pan out.
And, just in case any Hornets fans want to get into the mindset of a LOF, here's a handy chart I made a few years back. Just substitute McHale with Clifford and James Harden with Kemba or Al Jefferson or whoever. And I'm hoping that they aren't this obnoxious anymore.
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