There's no doubt about it, Lin has played pedestrian-like basketball to start the 2012-13 season (11.3 PPG and 6.0 APG), and the Houston Rockets are 12-12 through 24 games to show for it.
Putting up points hasn't been a problem for the Rockets so far this year, as they're scoring 104 points per game, but inconsistent defense and some sporadic point guard play has kept Houston from reaching its full potential through the first quarter of the regular season. But the Rockets can't afford to make the same mistakes twice as the new year approaches, and going from lottery team to playoff contender will first require star floor general Jeremy Lin to make some immediate improvements to his game.
Here we'll break down the adjustments Lin must make to improve his game immediately to make the Rockets a true contender in the Western Conference.
Look to Drive More
Easier said than done of course, but Lin must avoid settling for outside shots when he can use a pump or pass fake to open up a driving lane for himself.
Lin is attempting roughly three three-pointers per game this season with Houston, which is problematic because he's only connecting on 30 percent of them. He only averaged about two long-range attempts per game last season with New York.
The result of Lin's increased attempts from beyond the arc? Fewer free-throw opportunities.
It's no surprise that the more you drive the ball, the more you get fouled and go to the line. Lin is attempting just 2.5 free throws per game this season compared to five per game last season in 35 games with the Knicks.
The more Lin looks to drive, the more teammates he will open up and the higher his field-goal percentage will rise. Plays like the one in the video above against San Antonio demonstrate Lin at his best.
The Rockets didn't acquire Jeremy Lin this past offseason to lock down opposing point guards, but in order for Houston to have any shot at making the playoffs this season, and perhaps challenge for the NBA title, Lin will need to vamp up his perimeter defense.
Houston ranks second-to-last in the league in points allowed this season, giving up nearly 104 per game through the first quarter of the season.
The defensive burden doesn't rest solely on the shoulders of Lin, but it does start with the Rockets' floor general. If he has to foul more often or take some of his attention off the offensive end of the floor in order to prevent more blow-bys and easy baskets, then that's just fine.
Lin must regain the energy and tenacity on defense that made him a fan favorite in New York last season.
Successful defense can't simply be measured by steals and blocks. Houston must improve on that end of the floor, and Lin's focus is the biggest adjustment he must make to improve his game and the Rockets' chances.
Jeremy Lin is what he is for the most part. He's not a phenomenal passing point guard like Steve Nash, and he's not a scoring one like Derrick Rose. But in order for him to be successful in the NBA and to have a lengthy career playing at the highest level, he will need to improve in both areas over time.
For now, Lin must pay more attention defensively and look to find easier ways to score. If he can avoid settling for long-range shots, opting instead to attack the basket and draw fouls, the Rockets will be an even more efficient squad on the offensive side of the ball.
Lin isn't the only Rocket who must make immediate adjustments, but as the team's point guard, Lin's game is vital to Houston's success.
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