Houston Rockets point guard Jeremy Lin faces an inordinate amount of criticism for a player who averaged 13.4 points, 6.1 assists and 3.0 rebounds per game while playing in all 82 of his team's 2012-13 contests.
Expected to bring "Linsanity" to Texas after signing with the Rockets as a free agent last summer, Lin was unspectacular as James Harden's wingman and really lost his role as the No. 2 scoring option in Kevin McHale's system to Chandler Parsons by the end of the year.
Entering his fourth NBA season, Lin has plenty of time to revitalize his career closer to the point that it was when he was making defenders look foolish and hitting game-winning shots for Mike D'Antoni's New York Knicks.
To get there, Lin needs to get back to basics.
For starters, he needs to officially leave the pressure, hype and nicknames from New York behind him.
Speaking at a youth conference in Taiwan earlier this week, Lin acknowledged that some of his personal struggles both on and off the court came from trying to do too much.
"I became so obsessed with becoming a great basketball player ... trying to be Linsanity, being this phenomenon that took the NBA by storm," Lin told those in attendance at the conference, as reported by ESPN.com.
"I was ready to invigorate the entire city of Houston," he said. "I was supposed to save Houston basketball."
That kind of pressure successfully motivates certain players. Based on his inconsistent performances last year, Lin does not appear to be one of those players.
"The coaches were losing faith in me; basketball fans were making fun of me," Lin said. "I was supposed to be joyful and free, but what I experienced was the opposite. I had no joy, and I felt no freedom."
As noted by CSN's Howard Chen, Lin is as motivated as he's ever been since making the leap from college to the NBA:
Ironically, the Rockets will need Lin to be less of the player in New York and more of a player who contributes consistent production on a nightly basis.
By signing Dwight Howard in free agency, the Rockets moved from an era where Harden and Lin were expected to carry the offensive workload to one where Harden and Howard are expected to form one of the best one-two punches in the NBA.
Lin, though readily equipped to be a floor general and produce 30-point games at the drop of a hat, will be a third or fourth scoring option alongside Chandler Parsons and the rest of the Houston attack.
With Howard anchoring the middle of Houston's defense, Lin can also refocus his efforts on defense, where B/R's Kelly Scaletta ranked him as the No. 10 point guard in the league last season. There's always room for improvement, though, and Lin should benefit from Howard clogging the lane.
There's plenty of analysis that can be used to evaluate what Lin must do better. He didn't shoot the ball particularly well from the outside last year, struggled as an off-the-ball player whereas Harden needs the rock to be productive and wasn't quite as comfortable as many expected him to be in McHale's system.
All that said, Lin has plenty of time to correct those mistakes. By stepping away from the expectations of his star-studded name and returning to the fundamentals of going out and playing efficient basketball, there's a good chance Lin will have a bounce-back season next year.
Lin turned 25 on Friday. As a NBA player, his career is really just beginning.
Houston has championship aspirations, though, and the "Linsanity" craze from Lin's two-month takeover with the Knicks has catapulted the former Harvard star into a position where he's expected to be Magic Johnson, "Pistol" Pete Maravich and John Stockton all rolled into one.
Jeremy Lin needs to be Jeremy Lin.
Shedding the pressure of his former Big Apple self and moving into an era where being the third scoring option in an offense is a major advantage, Lin can excel in Houston this year by being a better outside shooter, posting a better assist-to-turnover ratio and playing within himself.
If he does those things well, the Rockets are going to be extremely dangerous at the point guard position.
Sometimes, you have to take a step back to take two steps forward. Lin has the talent to take those two steps and keep running forward, but first, he must get back to the basics of playing the game and having fun doing so.
It sounds rudimentary, but with the pieces the Rockets have in place, keeping it simple is exactly what Lin must do.
Follow B/R's Ethan Grant (@DowntownEG) on Twitter.
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