Jeremy Lin: Breaking Down Rockets Point Guard's First-Half Struggles

Stephen Sheehan@@StephenPSheehanCorrespondent IJanuary 27, 2013

Jeremy Lin hasn't been able to find his groove in Houston.
Jeremy Lin hasn't been able to find his groove in Houston.Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Jeremy Lin rode a three-week stretch with the New York Knicks to a three-year, $25 million contract. Unfortunately for the Houston Rockets, Linsanity has struggled to rediscover last year's magic touch. 

Lin's numbers are down across the board in 2012-2013, particularly in scoring. But what's the cause of his first-half struggles? 

No single factor can be blamed for Lin's uninspiring season, but a few stand out. Let's take a closer look at what's behind the fall of Linsanity. 

Recovery from Knee Surgery 

Now 46 games into the season, it's hard to imagine Lin's knee is still causing major problems. However, offseason knee surgery held the former Harvard star back early in the season. 

Back in October, Lin discussed his lack of confidence in his balky knee with Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle:

“My speed and my explosiveness and my agility (are not) there yet,” Lin said. “I’m still trying to recover from knee surgery and get to where I was pre-surgery. I probably won’t get to play too much. Hopefully, as the preseason goes on I’ll get to play more and more to build that endurance.”

That lack of explosion and agility certainly plagued Lin's playmaking ability early in the season. Houston's $25 million man shot just 37 percent from the field in November and averaged just over 10 points per game. 

The Rockets went just 6-8 during that stretch. 

It's tough to determine just how healthy his knee is at this point, but one stat may tell the story. In 14 games on zero days' rest, Lin is shooting just 38 percent from the field and 26 percent from beyond the arc compared to 43 and 35 in 22 games with one day's rest. 

Hopefully that knee is healed up, otherwise the Rockets' point guard could be in for a long second half.

Poor Shooting 

While Lin makes his money getting to the rim, he's still regarded as a solid shooter. 

Well, at least he used to be. 

After posting a 44.6 field-goal percentage with the Knicks last season, Lin has been streaky at best with the Rockets. The 6'3" point guard is sinking just 42 percent of his field-goal attempts on virtually the same exact number of shots. 

What's even more disconcerting is his drop in both three-point shooting and free-throw attempts. Never a knock-down three-point shooter, Lin has completely lost his stroke this season. Just a year after shooting 32 percent from downtown, that number has fallen to 28.7. 

And although his free-throw percentage of 77.7 is still solid, he's simply not getting to the line enough. Obviously James Harden plays a big role in that, but there's no excuse for Lin to take just three free-throw attempts per game. If he's not hitting jump shots and not getting to the line, Lin's definitely not worth $25 million. 

The James Harden Effect 

In New York, Lin was the facilitator. 

In Houston, he's the bystander. 

While Lin was tasked with running the offense in the Big Apple, his role has greatly diminished playing next to James Harden. That's the trade-off when you acquire a ball-handling shooting guard whose biggest strength is getting to the rim. 

Now that's no indictment on Harden. The bearded wonder has been a total stud for the Rockets. But his ascension to top dog has cost Lin on the court. 

Harden's usage rate of 27.7 ranks seventh in the NBA, and the former Oklahoma City Thunder sixth man ranks fourth in the league in field-goal attempts (795). 

Lin? 61st. 

If you asked Houston whether it would make the Harden trade again, the answer would be an emphatic yes. However, because Harden makes his money as the primary ball-handler and relies on getting to the basket and drawing fouls, Lin's impact is marginalized. 

Although Harden is actually the superior shooter, it's been Lin who's been left open to knock down jumpers. Unfortunately, he hasn't been able to convert, which helps explain the Rockets' 24-22 record. 

Hopefully, Houston can figure out a more efficient way to maximize both players' talents, otherwise the second-half tale of Jeremy Lin could read very much like the first. 


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