Why Jeremy Lin's Struggles Are Here to Stay Throughout 2012-13
Because Houston isn't built for him to become a superstar. Not right now.
Believe it or not, life for Lin got a lot easier once the Rockets dealt for James Harden. With him entering the fold, Lin was no longer the one defenses would be focusing on most; he became No. 2 on their list of priorities. Which again, is good.
But it's not enough.
Even with Harden by his side, Lin has been forced to play outside of his comfort side zone.
Sure, he's dishing out a team-leading seven assists per night and is on pace to post the highest assists-to-turnover ratio of his career, but that doesn't spell success.
Delve deeper and you'll see Lin is averaging a tepid 10.3 points on 34.3 percent shooting from the field. Though the point guard has never been a wealth of accuracy, he managed to shoot nearly 45 percent from the field with the New York Knicks only last season.
The reason behind his struggles?
A lack of weapons outside of Harden.
While the bearded superstar draws a majority of the defense's attention, Lin isn't far off. Houston isn't laden with a formidable supporting cast, which mean's the opposition can focus almost solely on cutting off the driving lanes for the Rockets' backcourt.
This is exactly what has happened. Defenses have cut off Lin's path to the basket and took the ball out of his hands or forced him into a long-range jumper. Far be it from me to draw attention to Linsanity's weaknesses, but consistently hitting outside jump shots is not Lin's strong suit.
Even at the height of Lin's run in New York, when he seemingly couldn't miss, he wasn't looking to take jumpers. More than 54 percent of his total attempts came within nine feet of the basket last season, and less than 20 percent of his shots were taken from beyond the arc.
With the Rockets, however, it's been a different story. More than half of his attempts are coming from outside of nine feet, and about a third of all his field-goal attempts are three-pointers. Lin—as we saw against the Miami Heat—isn't going to score a whole lot from out there.
To call him a victim of circumstance would be a stretch, because he would be much worse off without Harden. That said, without a capable big man like Amar'e Stoudemire or even Tyson Chandler to compress the defenses in ways Omer Asik can't, those lanes to the basket are anything but readily available.
Which is why Lin is actually taking less shots per game with Houston than he did in New York—because the ones he knows he can make aren't there. He's averaging almost 10 minutes more per contest, but putting up more than half an attempt less per game.
How is he supposed to develop any continuity on the offensive end, let alone score any more, when he's not jacking up enough shots? How is he supposed to develop into star if he's unable to play to the strengths that fueled his rise to prominence? How is he supposed to be an immediate savior for a franchise in transition when he's currently making an unforeseen transition of his own?
He can't, and he won't. Not as long as he—along with Harden—has to be almost entirely self-sufficient on the offensive end; not as long as he is forced to score in spite of his supporting cast, instead of because of it.
Yes, I get it, his turnovers are down to 2.6 per bout and his assists are indeed up as well, but that often happens when you're deferring to not just facilitate, but get out of taking shots all together.
When will Jeremy Lin finally begin to meet expectations?
I'm not questioning Lin's will as a player or implying that he is weak. I'm simply admitting that defenses are not only more accustomed to his tendencies, but he lacks the amount of weapons he needs to attack the rim effectively.
This is something Lin will struggle all year to overcome. Asik has improved by leaps and bounds—on some nights—but he's much too raw to compress the defense in a way that benefits Lin immensely.
Barring another unforeseen, Harden-esque trade, that's how the dynamic will sit in Houston for the duration of, at the very least, this season.
Meaning that Lin's struggles, the losing battle in which he is currently fighting with efficiency and opposing defenses, is here to stay.
All stats in this article are accurate as of 11/19/12.
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