With Linsanity Over, Jeremy Lin's Game Must Evolve for PG to Meet Expectations
All good things must come to an end—including Linsanity.
Jeremy Lin rode one of the most powerful waves from last season into this one, escaping from the depths of oblivion and crash landing into the realm of superstardom. Seemingly overnight, he transformed the New York Knicks into a viable threat while also making a name for himself as a global icon.
But things changed, the hype subsided and now Lin is left to face what was always an inevitable reality—he has some work to do.
Defenses have adjusted to Lin's offensive stylings, and his failure to adjust to them and subsequently evolve as an athlete has left an uncertain taste in the mouths of Daryl Morey and the rest of the Houston Rockets organization.
To date, Lin is averaging 10.2 points and 6.1 assists on 34.8 percent shooting from the floor. He's also connecting on just 24.3 percent of his three-point attempts as well, a horrendous clip for a point guard.
And yet despite the trials and tribulations Lin is incurring, there is still hope for his future, still hope that he can become more than just a half-year sensation.
Actualizing such hope, though, isn't going to come effortlessly. Lin must take great strides toward improving his offense from all areas of the court and become more than just a penetration threat.
As I've noted previously, Lin is at his best when attacking the rim. Defenses, however, are fully aware of this as well, and have forced him to the outside as a result. And they've done so with great success.
Nearly half of Lin's shot attempts are coming outside of nine feet this season, compared to the 45 percent of his attempts last season, and he's connecting on a combined 26.1 percent of them.
Furthermore, defenses are forcing Lin to his left, and he simply hasn't adapted to such schemes. He has taken just 17 shots from the left side of the court all season, connecting on a mere 29.4 percent of them.
That's a problem, and one that needs to change if Lin wishes to lead the Rockets toward prominence and actualize his potential as a floor general.
Teams are going to allow the point guard to take those outside shots. We saw the Miami Heat do it in the waning seconds of a close game, and we even saw the New York Knicks do it, as they dared their former savior to heave up a shot from the perimeter. He needs to prove he can hit those shots, he needs to become a legitimate threat to capitalize off such looks, lest he be content with riding the fading wave that is now Linsanity.
You see, Lin isn't a bad point guard, but he is raw. He boasts above-average court vision, but his inability to expand his horizons on offense has rendered him an average point man at best.
Watch closely and you'll see Lin dump the ball off immediately upon realizing the path to the basket isn't unimpeded. Delve even deeper and you'll see that he can take but two dribbles to the left before halting and realizing that, well, he can't go left.
While such shortcomings were subtly shielded during his time in New York, his day of reckoning has arrived.
No longer is the opposition a stranger to his tendencies, to his weaknesses and to his strengths. No longer is he the benefactor of a team stocked with multiple stars who draw the defenses outward. No longer is he able to fly under the radar.
And that's exactly how its supposed to be. Lin needs to evolve and adapt to the game, just as the game as adapted to him.
Defenses are forcing him toward the perimeter, so he needs to become a mechanically-sound jump-shooter. They're going to continue to force him to his left, so he needs to exude dexterity. And they're also going to try force the ball out of his hands, try to dictate he make quicker decisions, so he's going to have to become comfortable reacting accordingly.
Attacking the rim is easily Lin's best course of action, but in order to evolve, he must understand that cannot be his only method of attack. Of course, the Rockets need to eventually acquire a big man who is more threatening than Omer Asik, someone who compresses the defense and opens things up for Lin and James Harden.
But for now, this is what the supposed prodigy has to work with, and the mark of a good player is making the most of his stay, regardless of the circumstances.
Believe it or not, Harden's presence has allowed Lin to fair much better than he would have had he been the only known threat. Just imagine how much he would be struggling if Harden weren't by his side to draw a majority of the defense's attention. It wouldn't be pretty.
Would an improved jump shot allow Jeremy Lin to take the next step as a formidable point guard?
Yet it's anything but pretty now, either. Lin, as many predicted, has not lived up to his $25 million contract. He struggled to feign competency and finds himself being outmatched and outplayed on a daily basis.
Which means Linsanity is not only a figment of the past, but it is no longer enough to bolster Lin's reputation or even carry him statistically. He's now just a budding prospect with an uncertain ceiling.
One who must evolve his game to meet the needs of his team and the defensive sets he faces, lest he find himself riding the now imaginary wave of Linsanity back into obscurity.
All stats in this article are accurate as of November 26th, 2012.
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