When the Houston Rockets signed Jeremy Lin to a poison pill contract over the summer they had two hopes in the forefront of their mind. First was that he would be able to recreate his brilliance after a stellar stretch for the New York Knicks last season. Second was that he would live up to his hype as an All-Star-caliber point guard.
Obviously, in a league dominated by point guards it would be hard for him to find the votes in a legitimate contest to get into the All-Star Game, but it wasn't out of the question when the Rockets signed him, and it's not out of the question now.
Just think about the position he was in after last season. He was an overnight sensation, he was holding down pretty good averages (15 points, three rebounds, six assists and 1.6 steals) in the center of the basketball universe.
You would imagine that if he were to carry that on over into this season he would be going up against the likes of Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Steve Nash, Tony Parker, Ty Lawson and Mike Conley, not to mention rookie sensation Damian Lillard.
The point here isn't that he's got a lot to go up against, just that the crop of point guards all over the league is extremely potent. It's potent to the point where (aside from Kobe Bryant) most of the top vote-getting guards in the league will probably be point runners.
The big disconnect, of course, is that Lin hasn't kept up his numbers this season in comparison to last. In part that's because he hasn't really found a rhythm yet, but also because he's playing for a worse team and he might be falling back down to Earth.
Lin is averaging just 10 points per game, 6.6 assists and 4.5 rebounds to go along with a solid two steals. Good stats, especially in the rebounding and steals department, but only a crazy person would argue that he's better and more deserving of an All-Star spot than either Chris Paul, Tony Parker or even Russell Westbrook.
The important thing to remember for Lin, however, is that the All-Star selection system in the NBA, and in every major sports league for that matter, is inherently flawed. That is to say, the general public is stupid.
Most people who vote for Jeremy Lin will be voting for the cult of personality surrounding Lin. They're legitimate fans of Lin, but they're not the people who are going to rationally make a decision between him and Paul and make the right choice.
Now let's get this straight before we go any further, Lin was neither saying he thinks he's an All-Star right now nor was he asking for votes when he talked to ESPN. He told them the following on the subject of whether or not he thinks he can be an All-Star (h/t Ian O'Connor):
At some point, for sure. Right now I have a ways to go, but at some point, yes. I try to get better every year, and if I do that and work on the things that are problems for me right now, I definitely think I'll have that chance.
He's not saying that he's got a chance this year, just that his work ethic and his improvements down the road will give him a shot at being an All-Star at some point.
That being said, seeing him in the game this season wouldn't be that surprising.
I would be willing to bet that even without the inclusion of the worldwide vote Lin would have a decent chance at being a top-five vote-getting guard in the Western Conference. Not only is he a very unique and entertaining player, but the taste from his time as the flavor of the month has yet to wear off.
However, once you factor in the thought that he's the best player of Asian descent since Yao Ming, and the first to be legitimately featured on the All-Star ballot, you have to give him a very good chance to make it this season.
You have to remember, Yao Ming not only made the All-Star team in 2011 when he played all of five games, he won the spot by more than 100,000 votes over Andrew Bynum.
Factor in the votes he'll get from around the world and the fact that he's a legitimately good guy and a fun player, and it looks as if he's got a great shot to make it to the All-Star Game even sooner than he would have imagined.
Call the system flawed (because it is), but it's the only one we've got, so if and when it happens we'll have no choice but to accept it.