Houston Is the Perfect Destination for Jeremy Lin

Stephen BabbFeatured ColumnistJuly 19, 2012

Houston Is the Perfect Destination for Jeremy Lin

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    The Houston Rockets' acquisition of restricted free agent Jeremy Lin couldn't have come at a better time.

    The organization's offseason plans appeared to be sputtering amidst uncertainties surrounding whether Dwight Howard would become a Rocket or otherwise head to the Los Angeles Lakers. Rockets general manager Daryl Morey has been focused on acquiring Howard from the Orlando Magic despite his apparent unwillingness to sign a long-term extension with the team.

    Accordingly, Houston's summer has involved stockpiling trade assets rather than assembling a roster capable of making a playoff push.

    Getting Lin will change that, at least in part.

    The 23-year-old's three-year agreement won't keep him around forever, but he'll have plenty of time to help the Rockets maintain some measure of respectability in the short term.

    His ability to make contributions on the court while retaining his phenomenal off-court celebrity appeal makes this a perfect fit.

    Here's why.

A Lead Role in an Ensemble Cast

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    Shooting guard Kevin Martin is the closest thing to a star on the Houston Rockets' roster, and that should suit Jeremy Lin just fine.

    The humble leader was at his best when the New York Knicks' stars were sidelined, and he'll once again have the opportunity to head up a crew of overachievers. The Rockets nearly made the postseason last year without a star to speak of, and they could do so again with Lin filling the shoes of Kyle Lowry and Gordan Dragic.

    The opportunity to play without the egos and distractions characterizing New York's rotation should free Lin to develop without feeling the need to be overly deferential.

    It may take this team some time to hit its stride, and the front office may not be finished wheeling and dealing.

    Before all is said and done, though, Lin should mesh with his underrated cohorts just fine.

The Youth Movement

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    The Houston Rockets racked up three selections in the first 20 picks of June's draft, and the strategy appears to have paid off pretty well.

    It won't return especially impressive dividends right away unless some of the organization's young assets are traded for a veteran, but that's not the end of the world. Lin still has his youth, and the potential grow among similarly inexperienced talent might be the best thing that's ever happened to him.

    Outside of his meteoric rise to stardom in the Big Apple, of course.

    Without the pressure of New York's "win now" (or is it "win yesterday?") state of mind, Lin can just focus on helping his team win and let everyone else worry about the results.

    For now, the Rockets feature three solid rookies, including UConn's Jeremy Lamb, Kentucky's Terrence Jones and Iowa State's Royce White. If even one of those guys can make an immediate impact, this Houston team will be far better than advertised.

An Heir to Yao Ming

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    Yao Ming brought the Houston Rockets scores of fans from China and Taiwan, and the organization may be hoping to capitalize on that with Jeremy Lin, according to the Los Angeles Times' Houston Mitchell:

    Not only is Lin a solid player whose exciting style will bring people out to home games, but the fact that he is of Chinese ancestry will help the Rockets keep the international fans they gained because of former center Yao Ming.

    Of course, Houston's Asian-American population may take notice as well, but the potential to maximize the franchise's reach to international markets is a huge selling point for the Rockets. It could also benefit Lin, obviously.

    Houston may lack New York's general notoriety, but its track record with Ming could be even more valuable.

Scoring Opportunities

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    When attempting to share the ball with the likes of Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire and J.R. Smith, scoring opportunities can be few and far between.

    Those that do come along aren't always the best looks either. They're more likely the result of possessions that went nowhere and relied on Lin to throw up a bail-out shot attempt in the waning seconds of the shot clock.

    In Houston, Lin will have the opportunity to take better shots and pick his spots.

    His turnovers and attempts to force his offense should subside as his role takes center stage.

Jeremy Lin Is More of a Texan at Heart

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    As well as Jeremy Lin has handled the celebrity and media microscope New York tends to engender, he's just not cut out to be that kind of guy. He's not Carmelo Anthony, and he hasn't the hipster sensibilities of Amar'e Stoudemire.

    His combination of modesty and evangelical zeal are a better fit for Texas, where his rare personality will have far more appeal than they otherwise might in the urbane currents of NYC.

    Tim Duncan's understated greatness fit perfectly with the small-market San Antonio Spurs, and Karl Malone's salt-of-the-Earth attitude worked just fine in Utah.

    Not every star needs a team built for stars.

    The Rockets, it seems, were built for Jeremy Lin.