The Blueprint Every NBA Team Has for Breaking Jeremy Lin
Lin is a smart facilitator and excels when utilizing the pick-and-roll, but his flaws are becoming exposed with the more tape teams have on him.
After bursting onto the scene as last year's best underdog story, Lin hasn't exactly taken the NBA by storm since leaving New York to suit up for the Rockets. He's averaging 11.9 points per game, which is down from the 14.6 PPG he posted with the Knicks last season.
He's also shooting 42 percent from the field and 28 percent from behind the arc. Those percentages are also down from last year's numbers (44 percent and 32 percent, respectively).
Now, part of Lin's struggles can be attributed to inexperience and adjusting to his new team as well as being out of the comfort of Mike D'Antoni's point guard-friendly offense.
But the larger issue is that teams have caught on to Lin's tendencies.
For starters, Lin is at his best when he goes to his right. He penetrates on the right side. He prefers dribbling with his right hand.
If a defender can force Lin to his left, he has a better chance at stopping him.
Here's a look at Lin's shot chart from this season. The stat that jumps out is the difference in the shots Lin attempts from the right side as opposed to the left side. Lin has attempted 165 shots from the right side compared to 102 from the left.
The inability to be effective from both sides of the court is a huge weakness for a young point guard. It allows opposing defenses to shade off an entire section of the court and limits what the Rockets can do on offense as long as Lin is the orchestrator.
This clip shows Lin's trouble with dribbling with his left hand.
The highlight is from the Miami Heat's masterful defensive performance against Jeremy Lin last season when he was with the Knicks. Here you will see Lin try to bring the ball up with his left hand.
When Lin goes to cross over to his right hand, Mario Chalmers times it perfectly and strips the ball away from him.
It isn't just the reliance on making plays with his right hand that hurts Lin. The Rockets point guard isn't the best at creating his own shot either. Sure, he'll nail the occasional open jumper and can make defenders pay if they sag off on defense every now and then.
However, the majority of his productivity is dependent on the pick-and-roll. To his credit, Lin runs the pick-and-roll very well, and his ability to find the open roll man is a huge reason behind center Omer Asik's breakout season.
However, there's a counter to Lin's prowess running the pick-and-roll. By trapping Lin as he's setting up the pick-and-roll, defenses force him to try to dribble out of the double-team (which he can't do consistently). When he does get free, he rushes his passes, which leads to costly turnovers.
This is another clip from last season. This time, Lin is playing the Los Angeles Lakers. In fairness, the Lakers were a better defensive team last year than this year, and Lin was a bit more inexperienced than he is now.
That being said, watch how the Lakers use the trap to force Lin into some bad decisions. You will see Knicks center Tyson Chandler creep up to start the pick-and-roll. The Lakers don't even bother worrying about Chandler and collapse on Lin instead. The result is Lin losing control of the ball or forcing bad passes.
This final clip sums up both points on Lin's glaring weaknesses.
In this game against the Dallas Mavericks from last year, Lin goes to his left side and gets swallowed up by the Dallas trap. Chandler can't set the pick in time, and Lin coughs the ball up trying to dribble his way out of the double-team.
These videos are part of a blueprint that teams should use to defend Jeremy Lin, if they haven't already.
While Lin has made some progress offensively this month, turnovers continue to be his undoing. Lin turned the ball over seven times in his most recent game on Dec. 26 against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Lin may be an elite point guard someday, but it is becoming obvious that teams have figured him out. By forcing Lin to go left, teams have proved they can easily take an entire side of the court away from him.
Even when Lin uses his bread-and-butter play with the pick-and-roll, opposing defenses can pressure him into turnovers by swarming him with a trap. When game-planning for Jeremy Lin and the Rockets, opponents will look to expose these weaknesses.
"Linsanity" was a fun story last season, but the predictability of the main character is quickly turning that amazing run into a fairy tale.
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