Jeremy Lin may very well be one of the keys to the Houston Rockets' success this season. However, there are several things that he needs to do to ensure that he will not lose his starting spot at point guard.
The starter at the beginning of the season was actually Patrick Beverley. Beverley is a tough, defensive-minded player who can frustrate his opponents. However, he went down in the first game of the season with a partially torn muscle in his midsection and is expected to miss 10-14 days, per ESPN. Lin has thus been named the starter, at least until Beverley returns.
The 3-0 Rockets have a tough matchup Monday night against Chris Paul and the Los Angeles Clippers. Lin's success against Paul will be a major factor in who wins this game. Paul is not only arguably the best point guard in the league, but he can also be a pest on the defensive side and create turnovers. Through the first three games, Lin has turned the ball over 11 times.
Offensively, Paul has exploded in the first three games of the season. He is averaging 27.7 points and 12 assists while shooting over 51 percent. Lin will be faced with the difficult task of trying to slow down Paul. In order to do so, Lin will have to stay in front of Paul on his dribble-drive attempts and keep him from breaking loose on the fast-break.
While it's likely that Harden will need to have an excellent game in order for the Rockets to win, where and how often Howard touches the ball will be another factor. Howard can draw fouls on both DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin. Lin will have a major part in the effectiveness of the offense.
As far as frustrating Paul, there are several things that Lin does that could have an impact on the star point guard. As Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle points out, "Lin’s ability to attack off the dribble could help, if only as a way to keep Paul occupied and out of the passing lanes and from doubling down low where he can be especially disruptive."
In his second year with the Rockets, Lin will have to prove that he can not only be another playmaker next to James Harden and Chandler Parsons, but that he can work well with Dwight Howard. With a dominant big man such as Howard, players need to feed him the ball constantly.
An important factor for Lin to keep his starting spot will be his ability to build chemistry with Howard. The Harvard alum needs to realize when Dwight should get the ball.
One of the biggest keys to the duo's success will be their effectiveness on screen-and-rolls. When he was playing with the Knicks, some of Lin's greatest success came when Tyson Chandler would set a pick for him. Lin was able to hit the pull-up jumper, take it right to the basket, hit the diving Chandler with a beautiful pass or draw another defender and kick it out to an open teammate. Lin needs to have that sort of success with Howard.
The fourth-year player out of Harvard is an effective scorer. Just last season, he averaged 13.4 points per game and shot 44 percent from the field. If Lin can improve defensively, he may very well be the starter for the rest of the season.