Thus far during the 2012-13 NBA regular season, Jeremy Lin has posted averages of 11.6 points, 6.0 assists and 3.9 rebounds per game. In other words, the period of Linsanity has become a distant memory as the point guard falls into obscurity.
Just don't think for a second that Lin's struggles are told only through basic statistics.
Although Lin made his name as a statistical wonder, no number can truly define the woes he has faced. Perhaps it's been how he's been used on the court or how he's handled the onslaught of criticism and focus from fans and analysts, but, in any case, Lin has faced a severe decline the quality of his play.
The numbers, however, do not define them.
Lin is displaying improper form on his jump shot and a lack of comfort in the Rockets system. The blame rests partially on Lin, but also on the coaching staff in Houston.
So where must we look to explain Lin's lackluster play?
Working Off the Ball
When Jeremy Lin is at his best, he is working with the ball in his hands.
Lin has a world-class ability to create off of the dribble for himself and others. He's undeniably elite with his dribble-penetration skills and is as efficient as any point guard at finishing in the lane.
For the season, he's making 57.9 percent of his shots in the restricted area. That's up from 49.4 percent in 2011-12.
This number offers just a basic look at how, on the drive, Lin can finish in traffic, draw contact and dish out to the perimeter. Unfortunately, Lin has not been granted that opportunity very often.
Instead, the Rockets are forcing him into catch-and-shoot situations. This comes as a result of James Harden's emergence as the dominant ball-handler in Houston. This is no excuse for Lin's jump shot being so weak, but instead an acknowledgement of his misuse in Houston. As for how weak it has been, Lin is shooting 30.1 percent on jump shots.
You'd think that Houston would work him closer to the basket.
There's no denying that Lin needs to develop this aspect of his game. With that being said, there is also no reason for the coaching staff to not have him utilize his greatest strength—especially not when Houston has the athletic pieces to run with Lin in transition.
Confidence in His Knee
As stated in an October article, Jeremy Lin lacks confidence in his surgically repaired knee. For that reason, he has not been able to get the proper rise on his jump shot or display the necessary agility when moving off of screens.
Lin is also off-balance, more often than not, thus leading to low-percentage shot attempts.
As he continues his recovery, Lin is not being granted the opportunity to shine in the areas where he is most sound and confident. As any player struggling with his outside shooting will tell you, an easy finish near the basket can restore confidence in the rest of his offensive game.
Just ask the New York Knicks what it's like to defend Lin when he's found his rhythm.
Too Much Beard?
Thus far in 2012-13, James Harden has posted a usage rate of 26.5 percent. That ranks Harden 10th in the NBA. In 2011-12, Lin posted a usage rate of 27.6. In 2012-13, that number is down to 18.9.
In other words, Lin is not touching the rock as he's meant to. When he does, Lin often defers back to Harden by design.
Like it or not, Rocket fans, there has been too much beard.
This is not to state that Harden is a selfish player, as he is not. The issue, however, is that Harden is playing a style of ball that forces the offense to run through him on a possession-to-possession basis.
Considering Harden is a stout jump-shooter, the Rockets must explore Lin's ability to take over as the lead facilitator. He can hit Harden in stride for a jump shot or on the move as he takes a dive into the paint.
It is just as much on Houston to make the proper adjustments as it is Lin.
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