Jeremy Lin Must Improve Defense in Second Season with Rockets

Ryan RudnanskySenior Writer ISeptember 4, 2013

After young point guard Patrick Beverley's emergence last season, Jeremy Lin must show that he can play defense if he wants to stay with the Houston Rockets beyond his three-year contract.

Opposing point guards registered a PER (Player Efficiency Rating) of 16.9 against Lin last season, while averaging 9.9 assists and 5.4 rebounds per 48 minutes, according to 82games.com.

By comparison, opposing point guards registered a PER of 15.3 against Beverley, while averaging 6.9 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 3.7 turnovers per 48 minutes. 

With James Harden averaging 5.8 assists and registering a usage rate of 28.9 percent last season and Dwight Howard moving to Houston over the offseason, the Rockets don't necessarily need Lin's scoring ability or distribution skills. What could help the team even more is a defensive-minded point guard who still has the ability to distribute. Beverly fits this mold.

Not only was Beverley a better defensive player than Lin last season, he registered a better assist-to-turnover ratio during the regular season (2.61 to 2.13, according to Hoopdata.com). That's not even counting his assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.83 (17 assists, six turnovers) in six playoff games against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Beverley makes a combined $1.7 million in his next two years, according to Rotoworld.com. Lin makes $20.1 million during that time before becoming an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2015.

If Beverley can prove to be a capable ball-handler and distributor in the next two seasons, and if Harden and Howard can learn to work together, there is no reason to keep Lin in Houston. He will only be added weight, given his high price tag and defensive deficiencies.

Despite a breakout year in 2011-12 with the New York Knicks, Lin is once again in a battle for a starting spot, whether he sees it or not.

 

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