5 Things We've Learned About the Jeremy Lin and James Harden Pairing
The Houston Rockets have a whole new look to their roster for the 2012-13 season, and at this point in the year, James Harden and Jeremy Lin have combined forces to create one of the most exciting backcourts in the entire NBA.
Although the sample size is small, it’s safe to say that the two guards have begun to justify the contracts they earned in the 2012 offseason.
The grouping of Harden and Lin has found success early in the year, and while there’s a lot of basketball left to play into 2013, the future already looks bright for the Rockets’ young backcourt.
Harden’s Success Distracts from Linsanity
Lost in the grace of James Harden’s success is the fact that Jeremy Lin has actually played extremely well to begin the season.
Don’t think of it as Harden stealing Lin’s spotlight. Think of it as Harden taking the load off of the media pressure that follows Lin everywhere he goes.
Heading into the season, Lin was one of the biggest storylines in the entire NBA. Would he live up to his contract? Would he find success in Houston?
Now, all people can talk about is Harden—and that’s okay.
Lin is averaging 15.3 points, 7.3 assists and 5.7 rebounds, not to mention he's stealing the ball 2.3 times per contest. The point guard deserves attention for his success, but not to the point where it distracts from his everyday life.
We Still Love Puns
As much as Harden’s success has taken away from the off-the-court attention of Jeremy Lin, there’s no denying that people still love a good pun when they see one.
As we saw throughout the 2011-12 season, wordplay doesn’t always come out as smoothly as originally intended. According to The New York Times, ESPN fired an employee after a slur was used to describe a bad game during Lin’s remarkable run.
We all love a good play on words, but hopefully we’ve learned our lesson and we can keep the puns simple and to a minimum this time around.
Harden Is a Better Match for Lin Than Carmelo Anthony
Carmelo Anthony is considered a top-tier player in the eyes of many, but if the early part of the 2012-13 season has proven anything, it’s that James Harden has been a much better pairing for Jeremy Lin.
Lin has the ability to make players better when given the chance, and when he was paired with Anthony, those chances were limited. Anthony plays with the ball in his hands, and while he’s not a point forward in the sense that LeBron James is, he is still able to come down the court as a floor general and make plays for himself on a regular basis.
Harden’s skills off the ball have been established early, which allows Lin to create for his teammates throughout the course of a game.
Even when it comes to media attention, Harden is a better match for Lin. Drama and scrutiny seem to follow Anthony wherever he goes, so it must be nice to be out of the negative spotlight.
Lin and Harden Have the Potential for Greatness
To claim that the backcourt of Jeremy Lin and James Harden is already elite is a bit unfair. Yes, the team is winning, and the two are playing at an extremely high level; however, many guard combinations in the NBA have proven themselves over a much larger sample size.
That being said, Harden and Lin have shown that they can be very, very good. Greatness may not be such a stretch if they can continue their success.
The two guards are averaging a combined 50.6 points, 13.6 assists and 12 rebounds per game. They’re each playing a lot of minutes early in the year, but if their young legs can stay fresh late into the season, there’s no reason to believe they’ll hit a wall with such a young roster behind them.
Lin and Harden have work to do if they want to strive for the best, but they’re well on their way to becoming one of the better 1-2 punches that the game has to offer.
The Houston Rockets Have New Life
The Houston Rockets had one of the busiest offseasons of any team in the NBA in 2012, yet nobody quite knew what direction the team was headed in.
Marcus Camby, Goran Dragic, Kyle Lowry and Luis Scola were all gone. Jeremy Lin, Omer Asik and a collection of rookies were all in. And, of course, Dwight Howard was in Los Angeles.
This team had about a hundred different projections, but the trade for Harden brought new life to a Rockets organization that desperately needed it.
If Harden and Lin were clashing or the team were 0-3 after the first week of the season, the preseason deal would go down as yet another confusing move in the Rockets’ archive of puzzling transactions.
This team may or may not go on to make noise out West by the time the year is done, but what we know now is that this group is worth watching every step of the way. That’s a good thing for a team trying to revitalize a fanbase.