Jeremy Lin: Statistical Expectations for Western Conference's Newest PG
While Linsanity is sure to fill seats in Houston, nobody is really certain what type of player the Rockets are getting. His stat line last year of 14.6 points, 6.2 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game is a completely unreliable sample for a variety of reasons.
First of all, Lin never really knew who he'd be playing with. Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire shuttled in and out of the lineup with injuries throughout his time as a starter.
In addition, Mike D'antoni's offensive system is known to inflate point guard stats. Considering Lin started only 25 games in that system, many have speculated that he will see a massive statistical decline with the Rockets.
However, a variety of factors in Lin's favor should allow him to at least match, if not improve, upon his 2012 numbers.
He is slated to be the focal point of Houston's offense.
While Kevin Martin is a dynamic scorer, he isn't as reliant on isolation plays as Carmelo Anthony. This means that when Lin passes the ball to Martin, he'll actually have a chance of getting it back.
Houston doesn't have a big man like Amar'e Stoudemire. Nobody is going to take shots away from Lin.
The problem is that while Houston doesn't have anyone to take shots away from Lin, they don't have a big man currently capable of running a consistent pick-and-roll with him.
Lin developed great chemistry with Tyson Chandler, while Stoudemire and Anthony were injured, and their pick-and-roll became New York's go-to offensive play. The Rockets don't currently have any true big men capable of doing that with him.
While the lack of an immediate pick-and-roll partner might hurt Lin at first, it will help that he is going to be Houston's undisputed facilitator. He will be running Kevin McHale's offense.
Speaking of McHale's offense, it is actually fairly similar to D'antoni's. D'antoni is known for his "seven seconds or less" style. His offense attempts to push the ball up the court and take a shot as quickly as possible.
According to John Hollinger's team stats, D'antoni's Knicks ranked fifth in pace factor (a stat designed to measure how quickly a team shoots) last season. The Rockets were 11th, but based on the moves they've made over the past month they seem poised to run even more.
They wouldn't have signed Lin if they expected to run a consistent half-court offense. Slower guys like Luis Scola, Marcus Camby and Samuel Dalembert are gone in favor of athletic rookies Royce White, Terrence Jones and Jeremy Lamb.
This team was built to run, which plays into Lin's strengths.
As for his weaknesses, none come to mind as quickly as his turnovers. Ever since his college days at Harvard, Lin has struggled to control the ball.
Lin averaged 3.6 turnovers per game last year, good for the fifth worst mark in the league. On paper, it seems like that number should go up, considering defenses will now be able to key in exclusively on Lin.
Will Jeremy Lin be a star in Houston?
However, there are several other circumstances to consider.
Lin was at a national phenomenon last year. Every defender in the league wanted a piece of him, so it seems to make sense they would steal the ball from him more than other players.
Such media scrutiny would wear on anyone, especially someone as private as Lin. It's hard to focus entirely on basketball after going from bench warmer to superstar in a matter of weeks. In that sense, some of his turnovers are completely forgivable.
Last year also gave Lin his first significant minutes on the NBA level. Think about that for a second: He essentially went from Ivy League competition to top tier NBA defenders. He'd obviously need an adjustment period.
Now that he understands what it takes to play point guard in the NBA and is doing it in a situation with much less pressure, his turnovers should decrease. It will always be a problem for him, but it will be one that he can live with.
Everything stacks up for Lin to have a solid statistical season.
Given his increased role in the offense, the types of players he'll be playing with and the type of offense he'll be a part of, Lin's scoring should actually improve. Look for him to score around 18-20 points per game next year.
That should come with a decline in shooting percentage though. Most players who shift from a supporting role to running an offense need to adjust to the extra shots, seeing declines in their field goal percentage.
For example, when Joe Johnson left Phoenix for Atlanta, his field goal percentage dropped from .461 to .453. If Lin averages 18-20 points per game, expect his field goal percentage to fall to somewhere between .430 and .435 in his first year as a Rocket.
Considering how much he'll control the ball, Lin's assist numbers should increase as well.
There is a trade off, though. He won't be playing with teammates as talented as the ones he had in New York. The increased volume of passes should help, but he'll never average double digit assists without a true superstar on his team. Expect him to end up somewhere between 7.5 and 8 assists per game.
His turnovers should drop slightly, but not drastically. 3-3.2 turnovers per game seems like a fair number. However, it is not out of the realm of possibility that his turnovers actually increase, given his expected increase in workload.
Jeremy Lin proved he wasn't a fluke, somewhere between weeks five and six of Linsanity. Nobody plays that well for that long without some level of talent.
He is for real, and should help the Rockets a lot next year. Expect him to fight for an All-Star spot and help Houston contend for a playoff spot.
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