2015-16 Season in Review | Jeremy Lin
By Sam Perley, hornets.com
2015-16 Review | Jeremy Lin
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When Jeremy Lin first arrived at Hornets Media Day back in September, he admitted his last three NBA seasons with both the Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Lakers “weren’t the easiest for [him],” yet he was still very excited about the role that was planned for him here in Charlotte. Safe to say, Lin more than excelled in the purple and teal this season and is coming off what Head Coach Steve Clifford considered “[arguably] in many ways the best year of his career.”
Hot Start as a Hornet
Lin’s first month with the Hornets got off on the right foot with averages of 10.8 points on 40.8 percent shooting, 2.8 rebounds and 2.9 assists in 23.1 minutes through 17 games by the start of December. His first major performance of the season came in a Dec. 17 home game against the Toronto Raptors when he was forced into the starting lineup because of an illness to Nicolas Batum. The Hornets didn’t miss a beat without the Frenchman as Lin erupted for a season-high 35 points on 13-of-22 shooting, five rebounds, four assists and two blocks in a thrilling 109-99 overtime victory, which also happened to be his highest-scoring performance since Dec. 2012 and the third-highest overall of his career. His big night also kicked off a season-best 10-game streak of scoring in double figures where he averaged 17.0 points on 47.9 percent shooting (43.8 percent from three-point range), 4.4 rebounds and 3.9 assists. Overall, Lin averaged 13.3 points on 45.2 percent shooting in December, his highest field-goal percentage for any month of the season.
Stepping Up to Start New Year
When it seemed like injuries were popping up left and right on the Hornets roster around the start of the new calendar year, Lin not only managed to stay healthy, but also stepped up for Charlotte on countless occasions, averaging a season-high 30.7 minutes during the month of January. This stretch included a pair of 26-point performances against the Los Angeles Clippers and New York Knicks on Jan. 9 and Jan. 23, respectively. He also dropped 20 points and added a season-high 11 assists in a 129-128 double-overtime road win over the Sacramento Kings on Jan. 25 in which he played a Hornets season-high 50 minutes. Lin’s hot play continued into February as he filled in for an injured Kemba Walker on Feb. 3 with a team-high 24 points and game-high eight assists as Charlotte bounced the Cavaliers, 106-97, for its first win over a LeBron James-led team since the 2009-10 NBA season.
Shooting Slump Ends at Perfect Time
The wear and tear of all those extra minutes might have caught up to Lin shortly after the All-Star Break as he opened the first 11 games of March averaging 9.1 points on 34.1 percent shooting, 2.8 rebounds and 1.4 assists. However, things came together at the ideal time for the Harvard graduate at home against San Antonio on March 21 as he exploded for a game-high 29 points on 11-of-18 shooting, seven rebounds and two assists to help the Hornets rally from 23 down to stun the Spurs, 91-88. Lin’s performance helped fuel what would go in the record books as the second-largest comeback win in franchise history and the worst blown lead in a loss ever by the Spurs in the Gregg Popovich/Tim Duncan era. A few weeks later in a 114-100 road victory over the Boston Celtics on April 11, Lin became just the fifth player since the start of the 1983-84 NBA season to come off the bench and record at least 25 points, five rebounds, five assists and five steals in a single game. Amongst qualified bench players this year, Lin joined Denver’s Will Barton as the only ones to average at least 10 points, three rebounds and two assists at the conclusion of the regular season. Lin also played a total of 78 regular season games this year, which was the fourth-highest total of any player on the team and his most since the 2012-13 NBA campaign.
More Big Performances in Playoffs
Like this Hornets team, Lin was also making his first postseason appearance since 2014 and ended up taking on more minutes yet again following a foot injury to Nicolas Batum in Game 2. Lin poured in a team-high 18 points, four rebounds and four assists in 26 minutes off the bench in the Hornets 96-80 win over Miami in Game 3, the team’s first playoff victory since 2002. He added a postseason career-high-tying 21 points in Charlotte’s Game 4 win and ultimately finished as the team’s third-leading scorer in the playoffs at 12.4 points per game on 41.3 percent shooting to go along with 2.3 rebounds and 2.6 assists.
Lin has a player option for the second season of his two-year deal, meaning he can choose to opt in and resign with Charlotte automatically or become an unrestricted free agent. He can also opt out of his current contract and still resign with the Hornets during free agency under a new deal. During the team’s exit interviews on May 2, Lin reflected favorably on his first season with the Hornets.
“This was the most fun I have had in my six years [in the NBA] by far. It’s not even close in terms of being around a good group of guys [and] a coaching staff that really cares,” said Lin. “I definitely want to play with these guys [and] this coach [Steve Clifford]. [When] you bounce around a lot like I have, you see a lot of different organizations and there is definitely a lot of good things I can appreciate about this one in terms of my experience that I didn’t have in other situations. If you asked me would I be interested in coming back, there’s no question in my mind, it’s a resounding yes. I would be very interested in coming back.”