3 Underrated Aspects of Jeremy Lin's Game This Season

Matt DagostinoContributor IJanuary 15, 2013

3 Underrated Aspects of Jeremy Lin's Game This Season

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    Points, assists, steals. We all know what Jeremy Lin is capable of doing in the box score.

    If you dig a little deeper, though, you can begin to appreciate more of Lin's game that is not as readily noticeable to the average viewer.

    Living up to Linsanity with the Houston Rockets thus far is a formidable challenge for the rock-star point guard. There are moments where the magic returns. There are times when it appears his mythical rise to stardom was just a flash in the pan.

    But credit should be given where credit is due. Lin excels in things that will never appear in a box score.

Chemistry with Teammates

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    Jeremy Lin is a polarizing figure in the NBA world. Some love him. Others loathe him.

    But, make no mistake: His Houston Rockets teammates love playing with him.

    His style of play is an entertaining one. He likes to get up and down the floor, keep things moving and sustain a high-energy pace to the game. Not only is that a popular brand of basketball for the fans to watch, but it is fun for his fellow Rockets to follow his lead.

    Both in New York and now in Houston, seemingly everybody besides Carmelo Anthony has enjoyed running alongside Lin.

    And let's not discount how difficult it can be for somebody like Lin, who dominated headlines during his time in The Big Apple, to become the go-to guy this offseason in Houston only to relinquish that role just four days before the season.

    Lin was expected to take on the lead role for Kevin McHale's squad. When James Harden was acquired, those plans went out the window.

    Harden was brought in to take over as Houston's new shooting guard. Lin went from being the focal point to being second fiddle. The Rockets were hopeful that Lin would be able to build on the success he achieved in New York. However, the Rockets expected that Harden would be able to seamlessly become the alpha dog.

    But that has not diminished Lin's role on the team by any means. A point guard, like a catcher in baseball or a quarterback in football, must be respected by his peers in order to be able to organize them as a unit.

    Not only is Lin respected, he is popular. His teammates like him. His teammates like each other.

    The Rockets have had great chemistry in 2012-2013, and it is a big reason for the success they have had.

    Lin, with his child-like exuberance for the game, is the catalyst behind Houston's chemistry.

Handling the Attention of the Spotlight

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    James Harden is the Rockets' best player. The trade that brought him to Houston was the biggest story right as the season started.

    Jeremy Lin, however, has been the biggest story in the NBA since his 25-game outburst with the Knicks all the way through his free agency that resulted in him coming to Texas.

    Bigger than Carmelo Anthony when they shared the same floor at Madison Square Garden. Bigger than LeBron James' pursuit of an NBA title. Big enough to land on Time magazine's cover.

    So, Harden carries the expectations that his stats will be the best on the team. But Lin knows that he will be far more scrutinized and responsible for the wins and losses the Rockets accrue during his tenure there.

    While Harden gets to coast and bask in the limelight, Lin feels the heat from those lights glaring down on him.

    No sweat, says Lin.

    Before Jeremy Lin, Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady were postered all over town.

    Never before, though, has Houston had a face of a franchise as prominent as Lin's. He has put Houston Rockets basketball back on the map. He did it before Harden came. Even with Harden now in the fold, Lin is at the forefront of Rockets basketball.

    He is the media magnet, the lightning rod, the reason fans became once again interested in flocking to the Toyota Center to take in a game.

    Lin lets all that attention roll off his back. Early on, he was at peace with his stature, the phenomenon that has followed him everywhere he has gone for nearly the past year. He has invited all the attention to come his way to allow his teammates to just go about their regular business.

    Even a guy like Harden, who has become a top-five scorer in the league, can focus on what he does best on the court. He knows Lin will take a large portion of the attention away from him so Harden can be the best player he can be.

Body Control

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    OK. Let's get down to some tangible things on the court now.

    Bleacher Report's own Marshall Zweig recently penned his own take on things Jeremy Lin has improved since bursting onto the NBA scene.

    Among them are his turnovers. Per 48 minutes, he has lowered his turnovers by a full two giveaways.

    Early in his NBA career, Lin lacked the ability to shift down a gear. He was full speed ahead all the time.

    It allowed for some great moments and plenty of ammo for highlight reels across the world. It also led to costly, unforced errors time and time again.

    Because of the magic of it all, everybody took the good with the bad with Linsanity.

    Those critical of Lin's future in the NBA claimed turnovers would plague him too much for him to continue his success.

    Sure, there are the bad decisions and the poor passes that lead to turnovers.

    But, with his constant up-tempo pace, Lin was out of control far too often. That breakneck speed led to other turnovers like charging fouls. A quick scouting report led to opponents simply throwing their bodies in front of Lin and allowing him to create a collision and induce another foul on himself.

    A more mature Lin has learned to temper his Ferrari-like accelerations and take a more controlled approach. Now, instead of meeting defenders head-on, he is avoiding them and is able to get to the rack with more regularity.

    That has led to fewer fouls and more possessions, creating more success for Lin and the Rockets.