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Jeremy Lin Must Embrace Changing Role with the Rockets

Oct 5, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets point guard Jeremy Lin (7) brings the ball up the court during the third quarter against the New Orleans Pelicans at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistOctober 28, 2013

These days, Linsanity has to share the spotlight.

And no, it's not because he's playing alongside of stars like James Harden and Dwight Howard, or because the Houston Rockets look like one of the better teams in the Western Conference, at least on paper. 

No, it's because the man who signed a three-year, $25-million contract with the Rockets a year ago is going to split point guard duties with Patrick Beverley and may not even be the starter in Houston. And it's a role Lin must embrace.

It's been a long and strange journey for Lin, who went from being a no-name bench player to a star overnight with the New York Knicks. But Lin struggled at times for the Rockets a season ago, especially early in the season—and namely due to injuries—though he did average 13.4 points and 6.1 assists per game.

Meanwhile, Beverley averaged 11.8 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.2 steals in six postseason games last season and is also a much better defender than Lin. The two players each bring something different to the table, and if each embrace the split role at point guard and are utilized correctly, the duo should be quite effective for Houston this year.

Oct 25, 2013; Memphis, TN, USA; Houston Rockets point guard Patrick Beverley (2) looks for a open man against Memphis Grizzlies during the first quarter at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

To his credit, Lin has said all of the right things after head coach Kevin McHale made it clear both players would see significant minutes this year. 

Here are comments Lin made to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle about remaining aggressive in whatever role he's asked to fill:

Just attack. Just be aggressive. I don’t try to change anything. I think I get in trouble when I try to change my game. I’m just trying to be consistent. With different lineups, you will have different looks. But that doesn’t mean you stop attacking.

And here he is talking about how the two players will each bring something different to the table, via the Los Angeles Times:

We have different strengths. [Beverley] is such a good defender and shooter. I am better with the ball in my hands, attacking. I think that makes us tough to scout, and it gives us the opportunity to give a lot of different looks.

Thus far in the season McHale has given both players a chance to prove themselves, with Beverly earning four starts and Lin three. Since Lin can also fill in occasionally at the 2-guard position, it wouldn't be surprising if he came off the bench as Houston's sixth man for much of the season.

Whatever McHale decides, Lin should continue to have a significant role, even if his minutes decrease from the 32.2 he average last season to something in the 27 or 28 minutes-per-game range. He has the talent to come off the bench and provide a spark or quick burst of points if that's the role McHale asks him to fill.

And if Lin attacks that role with ferocity rather than sulking over the decision. 

The latter response is hard to imagine. Lin has had his shares of ups and downs in his short NBA career—a new role on a talented team shouldn't shake him much.  


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