Free Agency Preview: Jeremy Lin.

Quick explanation/intro I guess.

This is the first free agency preview. I think that I will sort of rotate from draft to free agent to trade, hopefully close to one every day, and that is what the rest of the month will be. One thing to please keep in mind, especially with the free agents and trades, is that I do not necessarily think that they will be good moves. Mostly I am going to look at guys that there is some talk about, and then say whether or not I think it will be a good move.

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Basketball reference page.

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Shot chart.

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Who is Jeremy Lin?

So Jeremy Lin is a free agent, and there are tons of people around here (and other teams) who think that they should try and sign him. He obviously burst onto the scene with Linsanity in New York a few years ago. Then signed with the Rockets for just over 8 million per year. He spent two years there and he was ok, but got kind of upstaged by James Harden and did not work out all that well. (Although he was not bad.) He then got traded to the Lakers in a cap dump. He spent 1 season in LA during the disaster of a season but was not terrible himself, then signed with the Hornets this past offseason for a very small 2.1 million dollar contract. This season he was very solid and an important member of a pretty good Hornets team, opted out of his contract for an obvious pay raise. And that is where we are now.

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What would his role be with the Pistons?

He would take over the backup PG position and be a massive upgrade from this past season. (Although that has more to do with Steve Blake than Jeremy Lin.) He would fill the role of being a guy that can create shots for himself and others that the bench mob desperately needs, and he also would be able to fill in for stretches alongside Reggie Jackson playing off guard as he is a capable shooter and big enough to hang with most SGs.

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Argument for him?

Once again, he would be a huge upgrade at the backup PG spot. And with him running the bench mob it could, in theory, make the Pistons bench very good. Remember that when Jennings was running the second unit this season, the Pistons bench was awesome. This is because every other bench player (with the exception if Stanley Johnson, but even him mostly) is primarily a finisher on offense. Whether hitting open 3s or finishing shots around the rim, and they are mostly pretty good at it too. But they need someone to create the looks for them to finish, and Jeremy Lin would figure to be able to do that.

His best ability is the pick and roll, he is fast getting to the rim and generally makes good decisions once he gets there. Considering how effective Baynes is at setting screens and as a finisher of the pick and roll, he would figure to be a good match for Lin, and assuming that Stanley Johnson makes some improvements, it would allow Lin to play off the ball some as well, to utilize his shooting. And of course him running the pick and roll with Andre would be very good as well, possibly having not much drop off from Reggie running it.

The last thing with Lin is his ability as playing off guard. How useful this would be depends largely on whether or not KCP finds some more offense. If KCP continues to struggle shooting/creating/generally playing offense, then Lin becomes more valuable for the Pistons. Obviously KCP is a much better defender than Lin is, but Lin would give the Pistons a lot of extra offensive punch that KCP (as of now) just doesn't give. HOWEVA, if KCP can improve his offense and be a good shooter and a somewhat capable secondary ballhandler then Lin becomes less valuable. While KCP will almost certainly not get as good as Lin on offense, but Lin is nowhere near KCP on defense, so if KCP can get some more upside to Lin then it might just simply not be worth it to use Lin over KCP at the SG spot. (Also worth noting, is that if Bullock comes out and plays like he did to end last season, or if Hilliard makes good on some of his potential, or if Meeks stays healthy, it would work similarly in lessening Lin's value. Since all of them would provide similar offensive punch if KCP's offense stagnates.)

One bonus thing. Signing Lin makes the Pistons much more popular in China, and my girlfriend's Dad would become a Pistons fan so that would be dope.

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Argument against him?

The main thing is that he is likely to make quite a bit of money, but that's not fun to talk about.

When looking deeper at his stats, I was actually fairly surprised by some things. Even though he was unquestionably an important part of the Hornets this season (I watched them quite a bit) and it was a good year. Statistically, last season was probably Lin's worst since Linsanity. His efficiency was down as a scorer, his passing didn't markedly improve. (Lower assist numbers is mostly due to him playing alongside Kemba so much I think) His shooting from deep was actually pretty mediocre as well. The eye test clearly showed that Lin had a very nice season, I'm not arguing that, but it might not have been quite as good as some people seem to think and he is probably benefiting from recency bias after a really strong finish to the season and playoffs series against the Heat.

Talked about in the good stuff, but one of the reasons that Lin was so handy for the Hornets this past season is that following the injury to MKG they were pretty thin on the wing. PJ Hairston was starting at SF for until they traded for Courtney Lee at the deadline. As such, having their backup PG be able to fill in as a pretty solid option at SG was extra helpful for them. The Pistons don't have this problem. They might actually have too many wing players on the roster right now. (Although it is entirely possible that none of them are actually all that good.) As such there is less need for Lin playing off ball, not that he wouldn't be useful in that role, just not as useful for the Pistons as he would be for other teams.

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What about his contract?

I have seen so many different numbers for so many different guys that I am not sure what to think guys will get paid. But I can say with some confidence that Lin will be making quite a bit. And that is a reason why it is important to note that his abilities as an off ball player are less valuable for the Pistons. And that is a big part of his worth, so the Pistons will likely be paying for him to be a ~25mpg guy, which would mean playing minutes alongside Reggie Jackson, whether they use him in that role or not. So it might be more prudent to sign "insert less hyped PG here" who will do fine with the bench mob but doesn't have the positional flexibility as Lin, because there is a good chance that between the 5 guys on the Pistons roster who can play minutes at SG, two of them will be more than capable of giving solid enough minutes that it doesn't matter if the backup PG can help there or not.

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The Verdict?

Obviously the contract is a big deal, just like with any free agent. You can have a good player on a bad contract. But if the contract was not too crazy, I'd like Lin a lot because I really like his ability in the pick and roll which is the Pistons bread and butter. And even though the Pistons have 5 guys who can play SG, the reality is that this past season KCP played 36 minutes per game, so who knows if Bullock and Hilliard will actually be able to play, and if Meeks will actually stay healthy. And if KCP shoots like 30% from 3 again, the Pistons could find themselves really wanting another guy to play at SG. Some of the numbers do make me wary of giving him a big contract, but if the Pistons could get him I would still be pretty thrilled. Plus there is the whole China element that I would like.

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What do you think? Would you like the Pistons to sign Jeremy Lin? How do you see him fitting? Let me know! We all get smarter!