Kevin McHale's decision to bench Jeremy Lin on Saturday and give him limited minutes on Monday proves that the 24-year-old point guard was overhyped from the start.
Flash back to Lin's emergence with the New York Knicks last season. Despite going undrafted in 2010 and being a benchwarmer, the Knicks gave Lin a shot in 2011, and he responded in spades.
The dynamic Harvard graduate averaged 18.7 points, 7.7 assists. 3.7 rebounds and 2.0 steals in 25 starts as the Knicks made a push into the playoffs. He also shot 45 percent from the field. Given he was a young, exciting player playing in New York City, it was inevitable he would explode across the front page of publications everywhere.
Flash-forward to the present time. After going 3-of-12 from the floor and committing three turnovers on Saturday against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Lin was benched by McHale in favor of...wait for it...rookie Patrick Beverly, who finished with two points on 1-of-5 shooting.
It's pretty obvious by now that Lin is turnover-prone (he's averaged 3.0 turnovers this season after registering 3.6 turnovers per game last season), but that didn't matter as much in New York because he was playing at such a high level.
But Lin's inconsistency is maddening this season and McHale had obviously had enough on Saturday. This is the same Jeremy Lin who scored 19 points just two games before the benching.
Yet, Lin's offensive troubles (42 percent shooting, 28 percent from downtown) are the least of Houston's worries. It's his defense that needs the most work.
And while PER is not always the greatest indicator of a player's impact on a team, Lin's PER this season does exemplify how his defense (or lack thereof) hurts the Rockets. He has a PER of 13.66 this season, which ranks third-to-last among points guards averaging at least 30 minutes per game (via HoopData.com). He only bests Luke Ridnour and second-year pro Brandon Knight using that criteria.
While Lin is not the only reason Houston is allowing opponents to shoot 45.9 percent from the floor, he is one of the reasons. FYI: None other than Ridnour scored 16 points on 6-of-13 shooting during Lin's benching on Saturday.
And if you are looking for how many wins Lin approximately contributes to his team over a full season, his win score is marginally better than his PER, but he still ranks in the lower half of point guards playing at least 30 minutes per game (via Hoopdata.com).
So, despite some of the highlights Lin has produced throughout his early career, at this point he's a marginal starter in the NBA. McHale understands that.
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