Jeremy Lin Will Break Through During 2013-14 Season with Rockets' Full Support
This comes after stars James Harden and Dwight Howard reached out to the general manager Daryl Morey to express their desire to keep both men in Houston.
With the Rockets' full support in 2013-14, expect Lin to have a breakthrough season.
Lin has been the subject of trade talks for the entirety of the summer, as his role within the organization has become unclear with Harden taking over as the primary ball handler.
In turn, Lin was transformed from a global superstar into what he truly is—a 24-year-old experiencing his first taste of NBA basketball.
Per Feigen's previously alluded to report, that didn't deter Harden and Howard from making their desire to play with Lin known.
“The reality is James [Harden] and Dwight [Howard] want to play with Jeremy [Lin] and Omer [Asik],” [Houston Rockets general manager Daryl] Morey said. “I’ve been kicked down to assistant GM. They’re going to be here.”
Said [Dwight] Howard: "...[Asik] and Jeremy Lin will be very good playing with me. I’m going to do whatever I can to make those guys’ lives better. I realize how much they mean to this team."
When the general manager and your two superstars support you, life becomes a lot easier.
Lin has experienced a turbulent ride in Houston, seeing his weaknesses glorified and strengths undermined by his lofty expectations. With that being said, there is reason to believe that Lin can be a high-quality NBA point guard.
Houston is the place for him to achieve that level of success.
Finding the Source of the Issue
During the 2011-12 NBA regular season, Lin burst onto the scene with a period that will forever be known as "Linsanity."
He dominated the month of February, averaging 20.9 points and 8.4 assists per game, hitting game-winners and out-classing some of the best players in the NBA.
In Houston, it wasn't that Lin couldn't reprise the role of a star lead guard—it's that he was mishandled.
In 2011-12, Lin posted a usage rate of 27.6 percent and an assist ratio of 26.8 percent. During the 2012-13 season, however, Lin's usage rate dropped to 20.6 percent, as Harden controlled virtually every possession the Rockets ran.
That 7.0 percent drop—an unheard of decline for a player as productive as Lin was in 2011-12—didn't prevent the mercurial guard from upping his assist ratio to 28.4 percent.
Lin had his opportunities to facilitate, but we cannot overstate how important it is for a young point guard to have a sense of continuity.
In Lin's case, he went from being the player who touched the ball and ran plays in New York to an off-guard forced to play through his weakest point—his shooting.
Even still, it really wasn't that bad.
It Really Wasn't That Bad
During the 2012-13 NBA regular season, Lin finished with season averages of 13.4 points, 6.1 assists, 3.0 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game. In the process, he posted a Player Efficiency Rating of 14.94 and tallied a slash line of .441/.339/.785.
No matter what the numbers on the surface may tell you, it really wasn't that bad.
According to Basketball-Reference.com, Lin was one of six point guards to average at least 13.0 points, 6.0 assists and 1.5 steals and maintain a field goal percentage above .440. The others are Mike Conley, Stephen Curry, Goran Dragic, Chris Paul and Rajon Rondo.
How bad of a season could 2012-13 actually have been?
Lin has been criticized for his jump shooting, but after the All-Star break, Lin shot 37.5 percent from three-point range. For the season, Lin shot 36.0 percent from three-point range during home games.
Again, how bad was it actually?
Lin struggled during the first half of the season, but he was also coming off of a partially torn meniscus. More importantly, he was thrust into a system that made him a shooting guard, when he's at his best working with the ball in his hands.
The new-look Rockets certainly have the look of a team that will give Lin that opportunity.
The D-12 Factor
When Dwight Howard signed with the Rockets, the immediate focus was placed upon he and James Harden becoming the NBA's latest superstar tandem. The player that truly benefits from Howard's arrival, however, is Lin.
A pick-and-roll specialist that lacked a reliable drive man in 2012-13.
With all due respect to Omer Asik, whose energy and rebounding prowess is worth marveling, he's an offensive non-factor. He gets a majority of his points off of offensive rebounds and effort plays, but when he's running the pick-and-roll, it's as if he has hands of stone.
Can Jeremy Lin make the leap in 2013-14?
Now, Lin has one of the best pick-and-roll finishers of our generation at his disposal.
Lin should see a significant boost in his facilitating numbers, flirting with a double-double on a nightly basis should Howard, Harden and Chandler Parsons all develop the chemistry expected of them.
As a scorer, Lin's improved jump shot should enable him to thrive in spot-up opportunities.
Keep in mind, Lin averaged 17.3 points and 6.9 assists on 36.4 percent shooting from beyond the arc during the final month of the regular season.
Working under the impression that the Rockets will use Lin as the primary ball handler, he could develop into one of the more productive point guards in the NBA. With his effort significantly improved defensively, it appears to be a matter of time before his fundamentals follow.
He may be the NBA's favorite whipping boy, but Lin is primed to remind the NBA of why they praised him to begin with.
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