The rise, fall and subsequent revival of Jeremy Lin have been well-documented. After having found the middle ground in Houston, it’s time for “Linsanity” to once again take hold of his team.
When Lin broke onto the scene in New York last year, there wasn’t a bigger story in all of sports. He was bigger than the game.
When his stardom began to diminish—along with his health and production—it was time for a change of scenery. Lin landed in Houston in July, and he got some help from the organization when it traded for James Harden in October.
Harden has been the superstar in Houston. Averaging 26 points and 5.5 rebounds per game, Harden has been the focal point of the offense, but he can’t continue to be the Rockets’ only stand-out contributor.
Lin is averaging 12 points and 6.1 assists per game this season. While his numbers aren’t terrible, the Rockets need more from their facilitator. Chandler Parsons, Patrick Patterson and Carlos Delfino have contributed to the cause, but it’s Lin who must separate from the group as Harden’s wingman.
Lin has improved considerably this season, which many stars tend to do when they are adjusting to the chemistry of a new setting and new teammates. He’s now third in the league in steals per game (2.04) and his turnover rate is far lower now than it was at the beginning of the season. Still, his average of 6.1 assists per game ranks him No. 17 in the league in that category—not exactly the ideal passing production you’d expect from your offense’s facilitator.
Granted, Harden and Lin share the point guard role at times, and Harden is much more dangerous with the ball in his hands. But with five other players capable of scoring 10-plus points per game, Lin has to take the reins and start creating more scoring opportunities for his teammates. He’s an excellent penetrator, and despite his somewhat high turnover rate, Lin must find a way to not only get to the rim, but also get the ball in his teammates’ hands in spots where they have high-percentage looks at the basket.
Will the Rockets improve enough this season to make a strong playoff push?
Houston is currently 25-22 and No. 8 in the Western Conference. There’s a lot of season left to play, but the Rockets can’t expect an easy path to the playoffs, especially with the depth of talent in the conference.
Houston hasn’t made any big moves since trading for Harden. However, with a blueprint in place for sustainability and long-term success, the Rockets may not feel the need to make any changes before the trade deadline. If they are to make a second-half playoff push though, they will have to find added production from within the organization, starting with Lin.