If only for one week, Linsanity has returned to the NBA. Houston Rockets point guard Jeremy Lin is averaging 28.7 points over the course of his past three games, capping it all off with a big fourth-quarter performance at Madison Square Garden against the New York Knicks.
His prolific numbers may decrease in future games, Lin will continue to thrive in a scoring role for the Houston Rockets.
Through 10 games, Lin has posted averages of 18.4 points, 4.7 assists, 2.7 rebounds and 1.4 steals on a slash line of .527/.465/.807. It's early in the season, and any All-Star comments would be an overreaction, but Lin's quality of play is more important than his production.
The question on everyone's mind, of course, is what has helped Lin go from an average role player in 2012-13 to an offensive stud in 2013-14? Many will over-analyze his game, but the factors are limited and easy to spot.
It all starts with his jumper.
Improved Jump Shot
Entering the 2013-14 regular season, the most common criticism of Lin was that his jump shot prevented the rest of his game from flourishing. His left-handed dribble and defensive footwork offered cause for concern, but he's a dynamic enough playmaker to make things work when his jumper falls.
Quietly, Lin has made dramatic improvements to the area of his game that had previously held him back. And that's not a theory based on 10 games.
It's an established fact.
After the 2012-13 All-Star Game, Lin shot 37.5 percent from beyond the arc on an average of 3.6 attempts per game. That 27-game stretch, as well as the first 10 in 2013-14, adds up to 37 games of reliable jump shooting.
That's sustained success, and that's why you should believe he's a legitimate force.
Lin has learned to set his feet on spot-up looks and is displaying significantly better posture when he pulls up in transition. He's not an elite shooter, but his ability to consistently convert jumpers from mid-range and beyond the arc will open lanes for him to slash and attack.
Most importantly, Lin can do all of this because he's playing in a role that's catered to his skill set: sixth man.
Leading the Second Unit
The most common misconception about the sixth man role is that it's a demotion from the starting lineup. The truth about the position is that it's designed for players who are at their best when given the opportunity to shine with the ball in their hands.
Prime examples of players who are similar to Lin's mold are past Sixth Man of the Year award winners Leandro Barbosa, Jamal Crawford and Manu Ginobili.
This isn't to say that Lin will perform at their level, but the Rockets need a sixth man who can score with consistency. Carlos Delfino filled that role in 2012-13, but as the roster currently stands, Houston lacks a leader for the second unit.
Which role is best for Jeremy Lin?
His ability to put points on the board is the key for maintaining the scoring punch that Houston receives from its starters. The fact that Lin can also facilitate while running the pick-and-roll makes him an even more dangerous weapon and leader.
His fans may want Lin in the starting lineup, but that's simply a label on a box score.
Lin has proven to be comfortable while coming off the bench. He's stepped in to pace the offense when Harden is resting.
This helps the Rockets to develop a rhythm for both of their top guards. That's something that wasn't achievable in 2012-13, as Lin and Harden attempted to get hot while playing with virtually identical styles.
With all of these factors weighed, the NBA community should expect Lin to continue thriving as a scorer in Houston.