The 2012-13 NBA regular season has been one of the most hyped periods in the history of the NBA. From the Los Angeles Lakers padding their roster with stars and controversy to the Miami Heat pursuing a repeat, the league has been ridden by expectations.
None more than the unmet expectations of Jeremy Lin creating a second coming of Linsanity. The question is, how much longer should fans give Lin to achieve said feat?
Lin captivated the world by posting averages of 18.5 points, 7.7 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 2.0 steals over a 26-game period during the 2011-12 NBA season. That span included a 38-point performance against the Los Angeles Lakers and a breathtaking buzzer-beater versus the Toronto Raptors.
Unfortunately, we've witnessed far from the same during the early 2012-13 season.
As of Nov. 23, Lin is averaging 10.2 points, 6.1 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game. Although those numbers appear to be solid, Lin is also shooting 34.8 percent from the floor and 24.3 percent from beyond the arc.
The elite scorer who produced Linsanity has disappeared. But have we truly lost Lin?
Although the Houston Rockets sit at 6-7 with consecutive wins over the Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks, Lin must pick up his level of play. The question is, how well must he play to placate fans across the NBA?
Contrary to popular belief, it is not a second period of Linsanity that must be achieved. It is legitimacy.
Becoming a Point Guard
The Houston Rockets do not need Jeremy Lin to be a superstar. They need him to be a reliable point guard who is capable of pacing their team on offense and leading their perimeter defense.
Which is what Lin has done thus far this season. Albeit inconsistently.
While with the New York Knicks, Lin was of a shoot-first nature. Whenever he drove the lane, it was either to put up his own shot or pick up an assist—not to prepare the team for a scoring opportunity if did not lead to statistical advancement.
In Houston, however, Lin has been a true facilitator. He is making the proper passes along the perimeter to set up teammates for scoring opportunities, also displaying the veteran know-how to facilitate a play when not getting the assist.
In other words, he has been a true point guard.
On the defensive end of the floor, Lin is setting the pace for the intensity level of the Rockets' perimeter defense. With an average of 1.8 steals per game, it's clear that Lin is getting his hand in on a number of plays.
He has set an infectious pace for a team that has displayed progressive improvement on defense.
Everything but Scoring
With a quick glance at the stat sheet, one would easily assume Lin's productivity on offense has fallen off dramatically. With an average of just 10.2 points per game, it is not too difficult to understand why.
The truth of the matter is, Lin is performing well in every facet of the game besides scoring.
There are signs that—while he could still stand to polish up his all-around game—Lin does not have as much to work on as many are making it seem.
Most promising are the facts that his turnovers are down and his assist-to-turnover ratio has improved over that of a year ago. This is indicative of the progress he has made—all the more encouraging considering Lin is in the recovery process from knee surgery.
So how is he performing as a facilitator?
Lin is dishing out assists at as solid a pace as one could ask of him with James Harden serving as an equal distributor. With Harden's status established, Lin's assist numbers probably will rise no higher than the present mark of 6.1.
What will improve, however, is Lin's ability to efficiently lead an offense. As that comes along, the Rockets' win-to-loss ratio will improve.
The question is, how long will fans give Lin to flourish?