Jeremy at his Houston introduction
As "Linsanity" was taking flight in the early days of February, one of the questions many were asking was, "how did so many scouts and GM's miss this guy?" Knicks fans who were already upset at Mike D'Anthoni were even more angry for not putting Lin in earlier in the season.
During an interview with Tim Kawakami of the Mercury News, Lin admits he idolizes Steve Nash, but compares his game to Goran Dragic, ironically someone he is replacing on the Houston Rockets.
"Neither of us is a freak athlete, but we’re both effective and know how to play the game,” Lin said.
Lin's strength is evident when running the floor in a real game; but most NBA practices are three-on-three, an area where individual athleticism comes more into play. Lin felt this was the reason he was mostly overlooked. In many postgame interviews, Lin had been thanking and praising his Knicks teammates; he truly does mean it, he needs to be in a real game to excel.
Jeremy Lin is a student of the game and that is what makes him so exciting to watch. He knows he has weaknesses; but strives to improve upon them. Last summer, after a disappointing stint in Golden State, he hired a strength trainer to bring his weight up; recruited legendary shooting coach David Jones to fix his jumper and added new shots to his repertoire, including a running jumper that is now standard in his game.
In total, Lin had 26 games with the Knicks where he had quality minutes; breaking it down even further, we can put "Linsantiy" into two periods; before the Miami Heat game and after.
In the first 11 games, he averaged 23.9 points, 9.2 assists, 2.4 steals and 5.5 turnovers. After that run, and including the Miami game, he averaged 14.5 points, 6.5 assists, 1.7 steals and 3.9 turnovers.
The Heat played full-court defense that game, constantly pressuring him; outside of the playoffs, few teams, including Miami, play with this type of defensive ferocity; in a way it was a compliment for Lin; but it another way, it was effective.
Lin was shut down that game.
Lin bounced back the next game, dropping 19 points and 13 assists against the Cavaliers. He showed that he was able to put the game behind him. A sign of maturity and a true talent.
I believe two main reasons contributed to Lin's productivity dropping. One was a departure from Coach D'Antoni's heavy point guard reliant game to Mike Woodson's more isolation and defensive game. Lin was encouraged to run more isolation plays, especially with Carmelo Anthony back in the lineup. But when you have an all-star like Anthony on your team, it's difficult to make excuses to not give him the ball.
The other reason Lin's production dropped was his torn meniscus that exasperated as the condensed season continued. More and more, it looked like he could not get the explosion he needed from his knees.
Lin has said that most likely the torn meniscus was there before his tenure with the Knicks, that he just didn't know. However, after his surgery, he has said he felt more healthy and has more strength than before. If that's true, perhaps we can expect to see dunks like his Harvard days against UConn.
What Lin will miss most from New York is having a center like Tyson Chandler. Omer Asik looks to have great potential, but he's not at the same level just yet as Chandler. During his most productive games with the Knicks, Lin was able to succeed with mostly bench and unproven players; for better or worse, something the Rockets now are.
What Houston does have, are young players with energy. And one thing all young NBA players have, is hustle. They want to prove why they are on this team.
Lin will have familiar faces in Josh Harrelson and Toney Douglas; and prior to joining Houston, he and Chandler Parsons were friends, but expect Kevin Martin to be the recipient of many Jeremy Lin assists, along with rookies Donatas Motiejunas, Royce White and Jeremy Lamb.
I fully expect Lin to average 18 points and 7 assists; and continue with his two steals a game. Those are Chris Paul type numbers, and although I don't believe Lin is Chris Paul; the Rockets will rely more heavily on Lin than the Clippers do with Paul.
Magic Johnson believes Lin to be a legitimate star in the NBA, and I do as well. Lin has a high basketball IQ and great court vision; something that is difficult to teach, but has proven to make all the difference.