ONTARIO - Jeremy Lin stands as the Los Angeles Lakers' best chance at finding consistent, dynamic point guard play this season. After back-to-back years marred by injuries to their stable of point guards, the Lakers get another crack at adressing the issue with Lin in a contract year. Ankle injuries have hampered his progress in Los Angeles, but he's looked good in his first two games back. Much of that has to do with the great chemistry he's brewing with big man Ed Davis.
"I'm just trying to be aggressive and make plays. For [Davis], he's just been setting good screens, getting open, and going to the hoop," Lin said when asked how both he and Davis are thriving in pick-and-roll sets.
"[Davis] definitely reads the defense really well. He's a really unselfish player. He does his job of trying to get me open as much as possible," Lin said. "I think we just like playing with each other."
Davis has shot 75 percent from the field through six preseason games, meshing well with Lin as a pick-and-roll partner. How has he been so efficient? "It's just easy baskets," Davis said. "Jeremy's really finding me. I'm just staying under the rim, he's just passing to to me, and I'm just finishing."
Davis setting strong screens to create space for Lin, and Lin actively looking for Davis around the basket, has been one of the finer points of the Lakers' offense through preseason. Los Angeles has struggled to find flow in it's offense, and the bench duo brings a different look by changing the pace and style of the game.
Here's a breakdown of how Davis and Lin are using the pick-and-roll to their benefit and providing some fluidity to the Lakers' offense:
This is by design.
"Offensively [Davis] does a great job of rolling to the basket and setting screens. All the things we want him to do," head coach Byron Scott said when asked what he's seen out of Davis through preseason.
It's not surprising both Davis and Lin are thriving together. Davis, though he's been bounced between the Toronto Raptors and Memphis Grizzlies over the last few seasons, is unquestionably a very good pick-and-roll finisher. Davis averaged 1.26 points per possession as the pick-and-roll screen setter, according to Synergy Sports Technology. Lin's proving why he's such a good finisher at the rim, using his quick first step and size to either drive to the basket or take shots in open space once Davis sets a screen.
It's a natural fit for both players, and they're just starting to refine their two-man game timing. Coincidentally, both Lin and Davis are also trying out for larger roles and their next contract. Davis signed a two-year veteran's minimum contract with a player option attached to showcase his talents in Los Angeles. Lin is on the final year of the three-year, $25.1 million contract he signed with the Houston Rockets. Both have great opportunities in front of them to boost their value while proving they're capable of starting in the NBA.
"I definitely want to have a big responsibility on this team," Lin said. "I've just got to continue to keep my head down and take things one day at a time."
"I'm just playing hard every night. The NBA is a long year with injures, guys going down and trades, you never know what could happen," Davis said when asked what he needs to do to solidify his place in the NBA and on this Lakers team. "You just always have to be ready, and that's what I do. I'm just going to be ready every night. If I play 10 minutes, if I play 20 minutes, whatever it is, I'm just going to be ready."
Lin and Davis are both doing a great job of giving the Lakers' bench unit an identity. Davis is protecting the rim and has been their most effective screener. Lin, even with the ankle injuries, is showing how quick and aggressive he is with space to work with. If the Lakers recent history with injuries and talent is any indication, they'll both have a chance to lineup with the starting unit sooner than later. Maybe, just maybe, it'll be together.