Houston Rockets Need a Linsanity Revival for a Deep Playoff Run

Michael MandelkernContributor IIIApril 1, 2014

Jeremy Lin against the Brooklyn Nets on Apr. 1.
Jeremy Lin against the Brooklyn Nets on Apr. 1.John Minchillo

Houston Rockets point guard Patrick Beverley is likely out for the last nine games of the season, making Jeremy Lin the new starting point guard. There are no more playing time excuses: Lin has an opportunity to drive the Rockets deep into the playoffs.

Beverley suffered a knee injury in the first half of the Mar. 27 Rockets game against the Philadelphia 76ers. He could recover in time for the playoffs. 

Until then, the point guard focus is on Lin. He played under the national spotlight of TNT on Apr. 1 against the Brooklyn Nets. Lin scored 16 points on 6-for-14 shooting with four rebounds, two assists and two turnovers in a 105-96 Rockets loss

Lin hit a three-pointer in the first quarter but was overaggressive and missed two layups while penetrating the paint. A turnover in transition in the second quarter led to a Nets dunk. His last field goal of the first half was a corner three pointer on a quick catch-and-shoot in transition.

His first bucket of the third quarter was a smooth jump shot off the glass. Then he asserted himself into the paint for a layup. He also dished to Harden, who sunk the wide open three behind the arc on a night when Lin's playmaking was minimal.

Seven scoreless minutes went by for him in the fourth quarter before he made a fadeaway shot in the paint. He drew his first foul late in the fourth quarter and made both free throws.

Lin needs to maneuver his speed and explosiveness to draw contact on pump fakes, especially since he is an 81.6 percent free-throw shooter and only got to the line once against the Nets. The momentum heats him up and improves his overall game, but he was not efficient.

From January to March, Lin's playing time was on the decline. He started his first game since Beverley’s injury on Mar. 29 against the Los Angeles Clippers. The Rockets lost 118-107.

According to ESPN Insider John Hollinger, Lin’s 14.30 PER is below average.

Although Lin went just 1-for-9 in 32 minutes, he shot a perfect 8-for-8 from the free throw line to finish the game with 10 points. Driving into the paint is key to his game.

The Rockets lost to a Clippers team that they might face in the playoffs. Chandler Parsons and James Harden combined for 60 points, but they had little help from Lin on offense that night.

Season statistics have been underwhelming from him. Lin averaged 23.9 minutes per game in March with 11.4 points, 3.5 assists and two turnovers per game. He is averaging 12.4 PPG and 4.2 APG this season. 

His turnover ratio ranks 45th in individual NBA players with 14.4 percent of his possessions leading to turnovers. He is a liability on defense and needs to take better care of the ball.

Lin can be timid when he dribbles down the court, passes the ball and then fades along the arc. Attacking the paint is crucial, especially in transition, but being overzealous leads to turnovers. Once he finds the right balance there will be more consistency to his game.

Once an international phenomenon, Lin has fallen back to Earth. Now he has a chance to rejuvenate Linsanity.