Grading the Rockets' Decision to Sign Jeremy Lin as Regular Season Winds Down
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As a starter for the New York Knicks last season, Lin posted impressive averages of 18.2 points, 7.7 assists and 3.7 rebounds per game.
While these numbers no doubt warrant an $8 million a year type of contract, Lin put up these averages in just a small sample size of 25 games. On top of this short stint as a starter, Lin's season came to an abrupt end when he was forced to sit the remainder of the year after tearing his left meniscus.
Although there were some serious causes for concern in signing Lin to a big contract, the Rockets did anyway and are finally reaping the benefits.
After starting out slow in the first four months of this season averaging just 12.6 points per game on 43 percent shooting, Lin has finally found his shooting stroke in the month of March. Through nine games this month, Lin is averaging 16.9 points on 53 percent shooting.
While his March totals of 5.4 assists and 1.9 rebounds are lower than his season averages of 6.1 assists and 3.2 rebounds, Lin and the Rockets' play have almost all but locked up a spot in this year's playoffs.
With 14 games left in the season, the Rockets currently cling to the seventh seed in the West with a record of 37-31. According to Matt Moore and the experts at CBSSports.com, the Rockets have overachieved as they projected Houston (with James Harden) to finish with an average record of 29-53.
Led by both Lin and Harden, the Rockets have become one of the most explosive offensive teams in the NBA and a legitimate playoff threat. Not only has this duo combined for an average of 39.5 points per game, but they've also changed the culture of the team. The Rockets are currently tied with the Oklahoma City Thunder for first in the league in points per game with 106.4.
What grade do the Rockets' deserve in their decision to bring in Lin?
In acquiring both Lin and Harden this offseason, Houston took a huge step in the right direction by piecing together a tandem of up-and-coming stars. At an average roster age of 24.4 years, Lin and the Rockets clearly have a lot of room before they hit their ceiling.
Assuming that acquiring Harden had been the plan all along, the Rockets' risk of chasing Lin has so far paid off. In just his first season with the team, Lin has helped guide the Rockets back into playoff contention where they'll likely be making their first appearance since 2009.
At 24 years old, Lin is essentially in his first full season as a starter and is putting up more than respectable per-game averages of 13.2 points, 6.1 assists, 3.2 rebounds and 1.8 steals. Lin has a lot of upside to his game and it's a safe bet that he will only get better with more time spent with his new squad.
The Rockets do deserve some praise for their acquisition of Lin, and their current overall record should be enough to warrant that. Lin and the Rockets are a bit ahead of schedule in terms of success, and could be on the verge of becoming the next elite in the years to come. Although time will be the only true indicator of the Rockets' success, the future does look bright with Lin as a member of the team.
Rockets' Grade: B+
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