Full Predictions for Jeremy Lin's First Season with Houston Rockets
Jeremy Lin is one of the most polarizing players in the National Basketball Association.
The entire Air Canada Centre was rocking, cheering the feats of a man who just put a dagger in the heart of their home team. In the history of the NBA, only a few select players have been able to accomplish a feat such as that.
However, the hype surrounding Lin began to fade when it was announced that his season would be over just a month later. The luster continued to come off when the Knicks decided not to match the Houston Rockets “poison pill” offer of $25.1 million over three years.
Many doubt that Lin will be able to live up to the precedent he set during that miraculous 25-game stretch, where the 23-year-old went from an unknown player on the fringes of the Knicks roster to an international superstar.
With the regular season set to start in a little more than two months, here are some predictions on how Lin will fare in Houston and his chances of rebuilding his star persona in a much smaller media market.
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As if you had any doubt of Lin’s star power, the financial figures spell it out clearly. The young man is a marketing dynamo.
According to Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated,
“[Lin] helped settle a cable television dispute, boost Madison Square Garden stock by 32 percent and sell more jerseys in a two-month span than anybody else in the NBA. His name was slapped on everything from a flavor of barbecue chicken (Lin-Katsu, by a Hawaii-based restaurant chain) to a strain of marijuana (Lin Sanity OG, mentioned by rapper Rick Ross). One of his press conferences, at Manhattan's Chelsea Piers, overshadowed a fund-raiser thrown next door by First Lady Michelle Obama.”
Of course, all of that took place in the Big Apple, which is a long ways away from Lin’s new Texas home. However, another Asian star did just fine in H-Town.
Yao Ming, who played from 2002-2011 with the Rockets, was one of the world’s best-known athletes. He made eight All-Star teams (largely due to fan voting in his native China) and had multiple endorsement deals with various companies across the globe.
Like Yao, Lin is a player that transcends local affiliations and even national borders. He will remain one of the most popular figures in the NBA next season, and the move to Houston will not have a negative effect on his celebrity.
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Now that Lin has been exposed to the brightest lights and the most scrutiny of any young player in the league, he can start making some real strides as a leader on the court.
He’s got the skill, fearlessness, charisma, willpower and compassion to motivate his new team and lead them to greatness.
While Lin has to work on his turnover ratio (he averaged 4.7 per contest in the 25 games he was a starter last season), it shows he is a knowledgeable player that isn’t afraid to commit errors in order to make something happen.
That is exactly what the Rockets need, as they are a youthful, inexperienced squad with a lot of raw talent.
They have three 2012 first-round picks on the roster, plus promising players like Donatas Motiejunas, Marcus Morris, Omer Asik, Chandler Parsons and more.
Even though Lin isn’t the most experienced player, he knows what it takes to win and will be asked to helm this team.
Expect him to do undertake this tall task with great skill and pride.
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Predicted 2012-13 Stats: 21.8 points, 6.9 assists, 3.4 rebounds, 1.8 steals, 3.9 turnovers, 42.5% field goal shooting, 36% three-point shooting.
In 2011, Lin averaged 18.2 points, 7.7 assists, 3.7 rebounds, 2.0 steals, 4.7 turnovers while shooting 44.5 percent from the field and 34.3 percent from deep in the 25 games he started.
Those numbers are going to fluctuate a bit as he gets accustomed to his new teammates and new system under coach Kevin McHale.
In New York, Lin had to deal with two different coaches, a ball-hogging “superstar” (Carmelo Anthony) and an elite player that seems lost in the Knicks system (Amar’e Stoudemire).
Now that he’s in Houston, Lin will be counted on to shoulder more of a scoring load, as his most reliable teammate, in terms of making buckets, is Kevin Martin. While Martin is certainly capable of putting the ball through the net, he’s not an elite talent and is prone to streaky stretches.
Lin will have to trust his unproven running mates, which shouldn’t be a problem, but it will likely dip his assist numbers a bit. His rebounding and steals should also go down, as he’s going to be exerting more energy on offense.
Don’t be surprised to see Jeremy become one of the better scoring guards in the league and continue rounding out his all-around game during his time in Houston.
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The point guards on that squad were Kyle Lowry and Goran Dragic, both who fled in free agency to different locations.
While the depth behind Lin is now questionable (Toney Douglas and Shaun Livingston are the two players listed at PG), the Rockets had a net upgrade this summer at the position.
With all of the new pieces, including the high-potential rookies, Houston certainly has a chance to sneak into the postseason.
Dallas could easily miss the postseason after losing more key players in the offseason, the Utah Jazz are young and capable of faltering, and the Memphis Grizzlies are a bit of a wild card.
All three of those teams made the playoffs after the 2011-12 season, but it’s likely the Rockets bump one of them, due in no small part to Jeremy Lin’s contributions.
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Because the NBA allows fans to vote for the All-Star starters, there is a great chance that Lin will be selected as the Western Conference’s point guard.
It’s going to be a close competition between Lin, Chris Paul and two-time NBA MVP, Steve Nash.
Paul is perhaps the greatest pure point guard alive and running one of the exciting “Lob City” Clippers offense.
Nash just joined the Lakers—along with Dwight Howard—and should be in line for another elite season.
However, Lin’s popularity transcends basketball, and many casual fans and observers will be inclined to vote for a name they recognize and hear all the time when they see the ballot.
While Lin doesn’t have the popularity in another nation like Yao Ming did in China, the fact that he is Asian is an inspiration and someone for millions of fans around the world to identify with.
That alone should be enough for the Rockets guard to earn a starting spot on the All-Star team, which will likely be Lin’s sole recognition of greatness in 2012-13.
The only other potential award Lin could win is an All-NBA nod (third-team), and that just isn’t too likely.
Where We See Lin in 2013-14
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If, next season, Lin can average more than 20 points per game, sell a ton of jerseys, lead the Houston Rockets to the postseason and start in the All-Star game, he’ll already have accomplished more than most NBA players will in their entire career.
His three-year, $25.1 million deal will look like an absolute value, and the Knicks will be kicking themselves for not extending him when they had a chance—and cap space—to match.
GM Daryl Morey will likely get an extension for brokering the deal and continue to tweak the roster with Lin as the cornerstone of the franchise.
It’s extremely unlikely that Lin regresses anytime soon, as the third-year player has yet to hit his prime and will only get better from here on out as he acquires more skills and gets savvier on the court.
Lin has a shot at making an All-NBA following the 2013-14 campaign and should once again get an All-Star nod and lead his team to the playoffs while being one of the most popular players in the league.
Linsanity may have died down this summer, but it’s certainly going to start up again. It’s not burning out again for the foreseeable future.