Somewhere between February and July 2012, Jeremy Lin went from hottest athlete on the planet to overpaid bum.
It's funny what money can do.
Scoring more points (136) through his first five career starts than any other player since the NBA/ABA merger, Lin set the basketball world on fire with his out-of-nowhere game for the New York Knicks.
In 25 games as a starter, Lin put up averages of 18.2 points, 7.7 assists and 2.0 steals per game. His PER of 19.97 was good for ninth among all NBA point guards.
Despite his success last season, many have doubts over Lin's ability to lead a team and become a star in the league. Those 25 games were impressive, but they're still just 25 games. Turnovers were also a problem, as the 4.7 he averaged as a starter would have been enough to lead the NBA.
OK, so he's no longer the hottest athlete on the planet, but Lin certainly is no bum. In fact, landing on a young Rockets squad with so much talent and so little leadership should provide the perfect opportunity for Lin to turn into the franchise's newest star, and here's how.
The first major aspect Lin needs to exhibit is his leadership. The Rockets have the youngest roster in the entire NBA at an average age of 24.0 years. They also have the least amount of experience, with players averaging 2.2 NBA seasons.
With two years of experience, Lin actually has spent more time in the NBA than 12 other Rockets currently on the roster.
Despite being thrown into big minutes right away on a Knicks squad that saw Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire miss time with injuries, Lin became an instant leader, going 15-10 as the starting point guard.
Those numbers correlate to a winning percentage of .600, higher than the Knicks' season total of .545. Lin has proven he can lead one of the most scrutinized teams in professional sports under the bright lights of New York City, so a move to Houston should even help lessen the pressure from media and fans.
Lin has been a leader before, and this time, he's actually had time to prepare for the role.
The second facet of his game needed to become a franchise star is his scoring.
While he'll never be in the slam dunk contest, Lin is sneakily athletic with his ability to get to the basket.
According to 82games.com, Lin did 33 percent of his scoring inside the paint, despite only 19 percent of his baskets being assisted. This means 81 percent of the time Lin scored inside via a layup or dunk, he had to create his own offense.
The shooting numbers were solid across the board for Lin as well—44.5 percent from the field, 34.3 from deep and 79.6 on free throws. A solid three-point shooter, Lin averaged 1.0 a game in his 2.8 attempts.
Per 36 minutes with the Knicks last season, Lin put up 19.6 points per game and is projected to score 18.1 a game this season, according to Basketball-Reference.com.
Lin has shown he can step up and score when his team needs him to, including in clutch situations, as evidenced by last season's game-winner against the Toronto Raptors.
The third major part of Lin becoming a franchise star is his passing.
To be honest, it's not good enough yet.
Those 4.7 turnovers last season as a starter is a scary number, yes, but so are many turnover rates for first- and second-year players.
Deron Williams, franchise star of the Brooklyn Nets, is entering his eighth pro season and still averaged 4.0 turnovers a game last season. He's still considered a star because of all the good things he does for his team, even if other areas are far from perfect.
Most of Lin's turnovers came off of bad passes instead of ball-handling errors, likely a result of trying to do too much and force things that weren't there.
The assist numbers were solid last season, at 7.7 a game as a starter. Per 36 minutes, this stat would have been inflated to 8.3 a contest.
For every bad pass Lin throws though, it seems a jaw-dropping one is soon to follow. The turnover numbers need to come down, yes, but given time and experience, Lin should cut his miscues dramatically.
Jeremy Lin can become the franchise star of the Rockets, mainly by doing what he did last year with the Knicks. Leading an offense with both his scoring and facilitating, coming up big in the clutch and cutting down on the turnovers will all help Lin lead the young Rockets in 2012-2013 and beyond.
Those critics crying that Lin is overpaid and overrated may soon be calling the Harvard graduate the steal of free agency, as he will be after becoming the Houston Rockets' franchise star.