Jeremy Lin's Competitive Fire Will Fuel Hot Start by Houston Rockets

Matt Fitzgerald@@MattFitz_geraldCorrespondent IIIOctober 1, 2012

Photo courtesy of the Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets via Twitter)
Photo courtesy of the Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets via Twitter)

Houston Rockets point guard Jeremy Lin's star power and competitive fire will headline a young but talented squad that will surprise with a hot start to the 2012-13 NBA season.

Lin is the perfect catalyst to fuel an offense littered with matchup nightmares at the 3 and 4 positions. Not only is his aggressive style of play ideal for executing a fast-paced offense, but his taste of success with the New York Knicks proved that he can have at least short-term success in this league.

In his press conference at the Rockets' media day, Lin alluded to establishing a culture of hard work and striving towards playing a blue-collar brand of basketball. He also conveyed a positive outlook on the lack of veterans on the squad, saying that their shortcomings in experience can be overcome by the qualities that serve a young team: superior speed, quickness and athleticism.

Stockpiling a bunch of first-round picks in the hopes of landing Dwight Howard may not have landed the superstar center, but one thing is for sure: there is plenty of talent flying off of the Rocket bench, and they all bring different strengths to the table.

First-round pick Terrence Jones will fight for minutes with Chandler Parsons, who was a pleasant surprise as a rookie last season. Jones' scouting report reveals his weakness tends to be losing focus and having a sagging attitude when things aren't going very well. The positive reinforcement and competitiveness of Lin will help him out, along with the currently underachieving Marcus Morris.

The most interesting rookie to watch will be fellow first-round pick Royce White, who also creates a plethora of matchup issues. What's best about White is that he is an exceptional passer, and that will create more fluidity not only in transition but also in the halfcourt game.

Combining the passing abilities of Lin and White will open up more open looks for dead-eye shooter Kevin Martin, who has struggled through injury and inconsistency and needs to be revitalized. Lin could go a long way in making sure that Martin bounces back.

In that same vein, the highest first-round pick, Jeremy Lamb, is a fantastic knockdown shooter as well. The No. 8 overall pick struggles to create his own offense.

During Monday's presser, Lin also remarked about how newly acquired seven-footer Omer Asik is not only a formidable defensive presence on the interior, but he can also score better than people give him credit for.

The ability of Lin to penetrate the lane will not only give Asik more opportunities at easy buckets, but it will also accelerate Asik's ascent in realizing his offensive upside.

Whether Lin likes to admit it or not (he doesn't), he is the new face of the Rockets franchise. Head coach Kevin McHale has already stated that the offense will accentuate Lin's strengths—uptempo and pick-and-roll (via Nate Taylor of the New York Times):

He’s going to have to make a lot of decisions in our offense. We have a young team, so he’s going to have to be a leader for us.

Lin's perimeter defense isn't the greatest, and there are other shortcomings in his game. That said, he has so much room to improve, and when he was presented with the opportunity to play in New York, he ran with it.

Now, he will be looked to as the man, because most importantly, Lin figures prominently into the development of all of the Rocket rookies. The more they can get out into the open floor and let their instincts take over, the quicker the chemistry will build.

The relentlessness Lin has displayed in clawing his way to a dream situation in the NBA should inspire his more highly touted rookie teammates, and such a work ethic should contribute to the blue-collar culture he wants to be a trademark of the Rockets.