Jeremy Lin, the other flashy offseason signing of the Houston Rockets, hasn’t lived up to the hype of the “Linsanity” moniker that surrounded his name last season. What we’re seeing in Houston is a continuation of the decline in Lin’s play from last season.
Along with James Harden, Lin has struggled a little bit with several things on his new team. Of those struggles, perhaps the biggest weaknesses in Lin’s game to this point have been his hesitancy, a lack of aggressiveness and an inability to create shots for himself.
Those struggles have stemmed from a multitude of factors working against the new Rockets point guard.
He’s also joined by James Harden, who’s suffering a diminished ability to score when working out of isolation plays.
ESPN Stats and Info lists Lin (1.02) and Harden (1.04) as the second and third best (respectively) at scoring per isolation play last season, trailing only Chris Paul (1.08). Their success in this fashion was undoubtedly a result of the players they had around them that demanded the attention from opposing defenses.
In Houston, there are no Kevin Durants and Carmelo Anthonys—just Jeremy Lin and James Harden.
The two have accounted for 74 percent of the team’s isolation plays; that’s a problem because neither are operating efficiently in that regard this season.
Additionally, neither is commanding double-teams at the rate players like Durant and Antony would, if at all. In the process, Lin has fallen to the worst in the NBA per isolation play. He’s 0-of-8 from the field with six turnovers in the 14 isolation plays he’s run this season.
Those struggles have compounded the overall poor ability of Lin to score at all this season. Overall, he’s shooting just 39 percent in non-isolation plays.
In order for Lin to be more effective, James Harden is going to have to take some of the pressure off him by being better himself while working in isolation. Harden’s shown he has a knack for getting to the basket and scoring points but hasn’t been able to do enough to spread the floor to open up things for his teammates.
Lin isn’t and shouldn't be the central point of the offense because of these struggles, but he could continue to be a positive role player for the Rockets, as long as his teammates can pick up the slack around him.
He's certainly not been the same guy since his 14-game breakout that generated so much buzz last season. Most of it's due to teams refusing to let him work comfortably in isolation.