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Why Penn's Zack Rosen Is the Next Jeremy Lin

Joe GoldmanCorrespondent IJanuary 1, 2017

Why Penn's Zack Rosen Is the Next Jeremy Lin

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    Jeremy Lin shocked the world with one of the most incredible breakthroughs in NBA history. Many view "Linsanity" as a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but former UPenn PG Zack Rosen could be on a path towards replicating this success.

    Rosen, who graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2012, is far from a household name. He's quietly one of the most decorated and successful players in Ivy League history, and after going undrafted in 2012 he's now taking his talents to Israel to improve his game.

    As you'll find out in the coming slides, the similarities between Lin and Rosen are truly remarkable.  

    I'm not necessarily saying Zack Rosen is about to become a worldwide "Rosensation" (not as catchy as Linsanity, but it'll have to do for now). In fact, Rosen is probably a couple years away from even playing in the NBA. 

    However, Rosen's collegiate path can't be ignored. It's so identical to Lin's that one can't but help but wonder if he's bound for an epic breakthrough.

    Here's everything you need to know about Zack Rosen's Lin-like potential. 

Intelligence

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    With a degree in economics from Harvard, Jeremy Lin may be the smartest player in the NBA. Zack Rosen is not impressed.

    Rosen attended the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. Wharton is widely considered the most prestigious and rigorous business school in the entire country, and boasts an acceptance rate less than 10 percent.

    Many would argue that book smarts are entirely inapplicable to professional basketball. It's definitely true that a basketball player doesn't need an ultra-high GPA or a degree from a top school to be successful. Many superstars never even attended college; look at Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard and Kevin Garnett.

    However, intelligence is unquestionably a huge bonus. Mental quickness and intellectual sharpness is entirely relevant to decision-making on the court, and much of Lin's success last season should be attributed to this intellect. 

    Both Lin and Rosen have this mental sharpness, giving them an edge over players with similar talent levels.

Identical Collegiate Paths

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    Both Lin and Rosen had nearly identical collegiate careers, not only academically. 

    Here's a blind statistical comparison of the two players' senior seasons:

    Player A: 16.4 points, 4.4 rebs, 4.4 asts, 1.0 3PT, 2.4 stls, 52% FG, 76% FT, all-Ivy League  

    Player B: 18.2 points, 3.2 rebs, 5.2 asts, 2.3 3PT, 1.4 stls, 45% FG, 88% FT all-Ivy League  

    Nearly identical right? The statistics are especially similar because both played in the same league with the same competition in overlapping years. 

    As it turns out, player A is Jeremy Lin while player B is Zack Rosen (statistics courtesy of ESPN).

    One last point: Zack Rosen won an Ivy League Player of the Year Award—a feat Lin never accomplished.

    Furthermore, both Lin and Rosen went undrafted. If Lin made it big in the NBA, why not Rosen?  

Natural and Skilled Leader

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    Odds are you've never watched a Penn basketball game, so you'll just have to watch the video and take my word for it. Zach Rosen has a unique ability to control tempo and take control of an offense.

    His leadership skills are Lin-like. He's a threat to drive or shoot every time he touches the ball, and creates havoc for opposing defenses.

    The one thing he lacks compared to Lin is driving ability. He's slightly slower and less explosive to the rim (but then again, who isn't?).  

    However, explosiveness can be improved to a certain extent. Lin never developed his legendary driving abilities until after being drafted. Improving his explosiveness from the perimeter is undoubtedly priority No. 1 for Rosen while in Israel, and it starts with physical training.

    If Rosen can make this improvement, he'll make it big in the NBA. He also has a unique skill that Lin lacks.

Superior Shooter

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    The sharp-shooting Rosen distinguishes himself from Lin as a far superior shooter and long-range threat.

    In his sophomore year, Rose drained 2.5 threes per game on 43 percent shooting. As a senior, he nearly matched that total with 2.3 threes per game on 40 percent shooting.

    Meanwhile, Lin was a mediocre shooter at Harvard, particularly for a PG.

    In his senior season he averaged only one three-pointer per game on 34 percent shooting and never averaged more than 1.4 threes per game. Keep in mind the college three-point line is even closer than the NBA's.

    This doesn't mean that Rosen will turn out to be a better player. Lin, as mentioned, has superior explosiveness and is considered one of the best slashers in the NBA.   

    What it does mean, however, is that Rosen has a weapon in his arsenal that Lin does not. Good three-point shooters need to be guarded up close and have a better chance at driving past perimeter defenders.

    If Rosen can improve his explosiveness and driving ability in Israel, he's going to be extremely dangerous, even in the NBA.

    Rosen is clearly a name to look out for, and basketball fans everywhere should monitor his progress.

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