Jeremy Lin's Shooting Must Improve for Rockets PG to Realize Star Potential
There is still a long way to go in the 2012-13 NBA season, but it's pretty safe to say that the Houston Rockets cannot be enamored with the way Jeremy Lin has played thus far.
The ballyhooed point guard is averaging 10.5 points, 6.6 assists and 4.5 rebounds per game. Those aren't bad numbers until you consider Lin's inefficient play (he has a PER of just 13.28 thus far) and his shockingly bad 34.2-percent shooting percentage.
If you're looking for a catalyst for those woes, it begins and ends with his inability to knock down a jump shot. We've already broken down Lin's innate ability to weave his way into traffic and how that helps the Rockets, so there's no reason to rehash that argument.
That has not been a problem and will not be a problem in the future. But it's how Lin's effectiveness is almost wholly tied to getting to the rim that is truly disconcerting.
On shots at the rim, the young guard is 23-of-41 from the field this season, giving him a respectable 56.1-percent rate on those attempts. For reference, Russell Westbrook, who is widely regarded as one of the three best finishing point guards in the league, has shot 53.9 percent at the rim this season.
However, while Lin excels at finishing at the rim with nifty layups, his game completely falls off a cliff once outside his comfort zone.
Through 11 games, Lin has shot a paltry 21.8 percent from the field on jump shots, including an embarrassing 8-of-40 performance from inside the three-point arc.
Interpreting these stats isn't exactly hard. While Lin is a fantastic creator at going to the rim, he's been completely unable to create good looks when shooting off the dribble, mostly due to spacing issues.
It's also pretty likely that this is also a confidence issue. Falling into a funk isn't exactly hard when your shots continually clank off the rim or even miss it altogether, which has been the case with Lin at points this season.
Fixing these struggles comes with a relatively simple solution: working in the gym. Finding time will be tough during the grueling 82-game schedule, but if Lin isn't the first player on the court for shootarounds then he's not working hard enough.
What's more, we've seen Lin be a pretty competent jump-shooter in the past. During his brilliant run last season with the New York Knicks, the point guard hit 40.2 percent of his jumpers.
While that number includes the "Linsanity" games, when he was playing completely above his skill level, it also factors in the latter half of 2011-12, when Lin's performance tapered off.
Because of the limited sample size we have with Lin, it's almost impossible to know which player he truly is. We can merge the two numbers together and say he's a 36.1-percent jump-shooter, but that would completely ignore the stylistic differences and defensive adjustments between this and last season.
In fact, there's just one clear thing about this whole scenario: Lin needs to improve his shooting and do it fast if he wants to live up to expectations.
If not, the honeymoon phase in Houston may soon wear off as the Rockets fall further and further out of playoff contention.
Note: All stats are updated as of Nov. 21 and are courtesy of basketball-reference.com.
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