Jeremy Lin Must Continue to Develop in Bench Role as He Returns from Injury

Richard LangfordCorrespondent IDecember 10, 2013

MEMPHIS, TN - NOVEMBER 25: Dwight Howard #12, Jeremy Lin #7 and Terrence Jones #6 of the Houston Rockets look on against the Memphis Grizzlies on November 25, 2013 at FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2013 NBAE (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)
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An injury to Jeremy Lin's knee against the Atlanta Hawks on Nov. 27 forced him out of action and stunted his growth into his role as the glue of the Houston Rockets' bench. 

HOUSTON, TX - NOVEMBER 27:   Jeremy Lin #7 of the Houston Rockets is helped off the court during the game against the Atlanta Hawks at Toyota Center on November 27, 2013 in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by down
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The good news is that the injury wasn't serious, and Lin appears close to returning to action:

This will help the Rockets solidify their standing in the Western Conference.

Houston currently sits at 15-7, which is good enough to have them slated as the fifth seed in the tough Western Conference. The Rockets have gone 4-2 in Lin's absence. 

With the offense of Aaron Brooks and the defense of Patrick Beverley at the point for the Rockets, Houston has the depth to withstand an absence from Lin and stay in the postseason mix.

Still, if this team wants to reach its championship potential, they need Lin to continue to play as he has this season. 

The 25-year-old point guard has come off the bench for eight of his 16 games so far this season. After beginning the season in the starting lineup, Lin moved to the bench and his numbers increased without his minutes diminishing.

Assuming Harden is healthy and playing, Lin's best fit with this team is off the bench. 

Lin has more of an opportunity to control the ball when playing without stars James Harden and/or Dwight Howard on the court. This plays to his natural strengths. With the prolific Harden on the court, having Lin dominate the ball for an entire game is not in Houston's best interest. 

For the season, Lin is shooting 50.3 percent from the field and 39 percent from beyond the arc. Both of these numbers are big jumps from what he turned in last season. So are his 15.3 points per game. 

Given the opportunity to get comfortable in his role as the player dominating the ball, Lin's play has improved in all situations. That even translates to defense when Lin and Harden are on the court together. 

As points out, the Rockets most effective defensive set this season comes with Lin and Harden both on the floor. Given both Harden's and Lin's propensity for getting lost in assignments, this comes as a surprise. It also, however, speaks to the ultimate potential of this team. 

Lin gives this team the best option at point guard to close out games. He will be able to reach the close of games with confidence after starting the game on the bench and then taking control of the second unit. 

When Lin returns to the court, the Rockets must make sure to continue to develop this dynamic.