Jeremy Lin: What Rockets PG Must Do to Continue Improving Play

Tyler ConwayFeatured ColumnistNovember 28, 2012

HOUSTON, TX - NOVEMBER 27:  Jeremy Lin #7 of the Houston Rockets brings the ball upcourt against the Toronto Raptors at the Toyota Center on November 27, 2012 in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

After being mired in an early-season slump, Houston Rockets point guard Jeremy Lin may finally be starting to show signs of life. 

Over the Rockets' past two contests, Lin has scored 14.5 points, dished out 6.5 assists and grabbed 5.5 rebounds per game. On the surface, that isn't much better than his season averages.

More important than averages, though, was Lin's shooting percentage. The Rockets guard shot 13-of-21 from the field against the Raptors and Knicks, a colossal improvement on his embarrassing start to the season.

Granted, two games are an extremely limited sample size. But considering Friday and Tuesday were his first back-to-back games hitting 50 percent of his shots all season, the Rockets will take the positive signs where they can.

What can Lin do to continue his upward swing? Here is a look at what the $25 million man must do to continue earning his keep.


Continue Attacking the Rim

While Lin's shooting percentage (37.4) this season would make Allen Iverson blush, his ability to get to the rim and finish there is unquestioned.

Though he isn't the fastest point guard in the league, Lin is able to find room in the defense by using a quick first step and excellent ability to work off ball screens. 

In fact, around the rim is about the only place where the Rockets guard has been truly effective on the season. Of his 147 shots on the season, 54 (36.7 percent) have come at the rim. That's a rate higher than even some of the best drivers in the NBA. For reference, LeBron James takes just 31.7 percent of his shots at the rim.

Lin's also an excellent finisher around that area, shooting 57.4 percent. That's not as good as James (obviously), but better than more athletic guards like Russell Westbrook and Derrick Rose

By keeping his usage high at the rim, Lin's doing one of the most basic tenants of good basketball: playing to his strength.


Cut Down on Three-Point Shots

In terms of the jump shots he takes, Lin has become increasingly reliant on the three-pointer, which has coincided with a massive drop in efficiency.

For the season, he's taken 39 shots from beyond the arc, his second-most used zone, and made just 10 for a 25.6 shooting percentage. It seems where Lin is playing to his strengths by driving into the lane, he's also working to negate that effect by taking ill-advised three-pointers.

Even at the height of Linsanity, he wasn't even remotely efficient beyond the arc. Lin's 32 percent rate from last season would have ranked No. 109 in the NBA last season had he played enough games to qualify.

As a guard, especially one that uses the ball as much as Lin, it's almost impossible to eliminate the three-pointer completely. Situations at the end of the shot clock or game clock will force him to take some shots beyond the arc.

However, it's when Lin chooses to take those shots is key. Ill-advised pull-up threes should never fly off of his right hand again—or at least until he becomes an efficient jump shooter.


Continued Deference to James Harden

Despite his early-season struggles (or perhaps because of them), the most impressive thing Lin has done thus far is hand the alpha-dog reins over to James Harden.

For all intents and purposes, the 2012-13 Rockets were built to be Lin's team. He was the only primary ball-handler on the roster and was surrounded (save for Kevin Martin) with guys who actually had equally lacking long-term resumes. 

And then comes the Harden trade. In one fell swoop, Houston goes from Lin's team to Harden's team, while all the players essentially move on with their lives.

Lin has shown he has no problem playing the second- or third-banana role. Considering Houston still stands to be major players for a second superstar in the coming years, that could certainly pay dividends. 

What's more, by keeping himself out of the alpha-dog spotlight, Lin has been able to struggle without that much criticism. Had Linsanity failed to come back for a second season as the "best player" on his team, the New York Post would have run a snarky back-page headline almost every day. 

Instead, deferring to Harden affords Lin time to develop as a player. It's still possible, though unlikely, that he is the player who captured the world's heart last season.

Nonetheless, by embracing the second-banana role, Lin will be able to find out who he is as a player and work on becoming the most efficient version of that player possible.

(All stats are updated as of Nov. 28 and are courtesy of