Jeremy Lin: Rockets Can Still Become Contender with Mediocre Point Guard

Alex BallentineFeatured ColumnistDecember 1, 2012

HOUSTON, TX - NOVEMBER 23:  Jeremy Lin #7 of the Houston Rockets drives past Pablo Prigioni #9 and Carmelo Anthony #7 of the New York Knicks at the Toyota Center on November 23, 2012 in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, bagainst the Newy 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

When the Houston Rockets signed Jeremy Lin to a three-year $25 million deal in the offseason, they were probably expecting a little more production than what they've seen from the polarizing point guard this season. 

Yes, Lin hasn't quite matched the eye-popping numbers that set off the whole "Linsanity" craze in New York. Through 15 games with the Rockets Lin is averaging 10.3 points per game on 37 percent shooting and is turning the ball over 2.9 times per game. Those aren't exactly great numbers to look at.

As Lin's detractors have said for a long time, the truth might just be that Lin is not a legitimate star. His play on the court could best be described as mediocre.

However, that doesn't mean that the Rockets have sunk the franchise by signing the popular point guard. While he's been a bit disappointing, Houston can still become a contender in the West. Here's why.


James Harden

Had the Rockets set out to build the roster around Jeremy Lin, they would be in trouble. After the blockbuster deal that brought James Harden into the fold, that's not the case.

It's clear that Harden is the biggest star on this team, and quite frankly, the kind of star that is worthy of having a team built around him. Transitioning from his sixth man role with the Oklahoma City Thunder to the role of primary scoring option in Houston, he's looked the part.

Through 15 games, Harden is averaging 24.5 points per game—making him the fifth top scorer in the association. in games the Rockets have won Harden is averaging 31 points. This is a team that relies on Harden much more than it relies on Lin.


Omer Asik

The Rockets didn't just roll the dice on Lin this offseason, Omer Asik was a pretty risky signing too. 

Like Lin, there wasn't much of a sample size for Asik to show that could be a consistent NBA starter. He was impressive in brief stretches with the Chicago Bulls but he didn't see time as a starter. 

After 15 games as the Rockets' starting center, it appears that management found a gem when they offered the big man a three-year deal worth 25.1 million dollars this offseason. 

Asik gives the team a great presence on the inside. He's already one of the league's top three rebounders at 12.3 boards per game and he contributes with defense (1.1 blocks per game) and isn't a total offensive liability (10.8 points per game). 

At only 26 years old, the Rockets have a quality center that they can count on for years to come in Asik. That's a huge positive for any contender.


Lin Can Improve

Jeremy Lin has not lived up to expectations thus far, but that doesn't mean that he can't improve. 

In truth, he hasn't been totally awful this season to begin with. 

Yes, he's turning the ball over 2.9 times per game and he's only been a pitiful 37 percent from the field, but he's also a 24-year-old point guard playing his first season as a full-time starter on a new team. 

Everything Lin does is put under a microscope, but in the grand scheme of things, he has plenty of time to improve. For example, Lin's turnovers per game has actually improved—he averaged 3.6 per game with the Knicks last season. 

Since Lin's emergence last season he's always been a player that evokes an emotional response. However, it's important to remember that he doesn't have to be a star for the Rockets to be a great team. He just needs to develop into a dependable player that is part of a youthful and emerging roster.