Jeremy Lin Will Shine in Make-or-Break Season with Houston Rockets
Over the course of the past two calendar years, Jeremy Lin has gone from a Summer League standout to an international star. His name and face are recognizable across the globe and the period of "Linsanity" remains an indescribably incredible time in NBA history.
With patience running thin for his production to match his reputation, look for Lin to shine in a make-or-break season with the Houston Rockets.
For those unfamiliar, Lin rose to fame as a member of the New York Knicks during the 2011-12 regular season. The Harvard graduate played in 35 games total, but broke out during the month of February with averages of 20.9 points, 8.4 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game after seeing the court by way of an injury.
For those who don't remember:
That marked the beginning of a something-to-nothing basketball story that may never be duplicated.
Once Carmelo Anthony returned to the rotation and injuries struck, Linsanity was over and Lin became a free agent. From there, controversy began and Lin ended up with a deal worth more than $25 million over three years in Houston.
In 2013-14, look for Lin to earn that money.
There's no question that Lin has holes in his game that must be addressed in order for him to take the next step towards stardom. The most notable deficiencies include an inconsistent left-handed dribble and an unreliable jump shot.
If there's one thing that Lin does as well as anyone in the NBA, however, it's run the pick-and-roll.
Lin didn't post incredible numbers in 2012-13, but the ones you need to know display his prowess as a facilitator. With a usage rate of 20.6, Lin posted a very impressive assist ratio of 28.4, per John Hollinger of ESPN.
The Rockets helped Lin by shooting the three-ball at a high rate, which should continue as he attacks with the pick-and-roll in 2013-14. It's the play that made him a star with the Knicks and it's the approach that should work wonders in Houston.
Dwight Howard is the reason why.
Howard is one of the best pick-and-roll finishers in the NBA, using his quickness, length and athleticism to dive hard and attack the rim with relentless pursuit. This is the presence that Lin lacked in 2012-13, and could be what pushes him to upwards of 8.0 assists per contest.
As long as head coach Kevin McHale puts the ball in Lin's hands, he and Howard can work magic.
Improved Jump Shooting
The biggest complaint about Lin's game is that his jump shot is too weak to keep a defense honest. Per NBA.com, Lin shot an even 40.0 percent on mid-range jump shots and converted 33.9 percent of his three-point field-goal attempts.
Just don't look at one set of numbers and take them as the gospel.
What is Jeremy Lin's upside in 2013-14?
After the 2013 All-Star Break, Lin shot 37.5 percent from three-point range on 3.6 attempts per game. That's a 27-game sample size that saw Lin consistently step in and convert spot-up three-point jump shots from all over the floor.
Lin had 11 points, four assists, three rebounds and three assists on 4-of-7 shooting from the field and 1-of-2 from distance during Houston's 2013 preseason opener.
There's no reason to say that Lin is an elite three-point shooter, but he can knock down a kick-out jumper when need be. That's something he couldn't do during the first half of the 2012-13 regular season, and it's what will make him valuable in 2013-14.
Whether it's Lin, Harden or Howard who gets a majority of the touches, Lin will be tasked with shooting the basketball to improve the efficiency of his driving game. Keep in mind, Lin did close out 2012-13 with averages of 17.3 points and 6.9 assists during the final month of the regular season.
The development of a three-point shot played a major role in that development.
If Lin's jumper continues to fall and he's given the opportunity to run the pick-and-roll, he will shine and earn his money. No one can doubt that the talent is in place, but the Harvard graduate must now put forth consistent efforts.
It's then, and only then, that Lin can live up to the hype.
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