After adding Dwight Howard, the Houston Rockets reportedly explored the idea of moving their starting point guard in an attempt to make room for a third star player to pair with him and James Harden, according to ESPN’s Bradford Doolittle (ESPN Insider required).
While that makes sense superficially, it’s also a bit contradictory.
Howard chose to head to Houston because of the core of young talent already in place there—that includes Lin. However, the point guard hasn’t exactly lived up to the initial buzz he created for himself when he burst onto the scene during his rookie season in the Big Apple.
Everyone remembers “Linsanity”, yeah?
Howard and Harden also reportedly want to play with Lin and Omer Asik, according to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle, quoting general manager Daryl Morey:
“The reality is James (Harden) and Dwight (Howard) want to play with Jeremy and Omer. I’ve been kicked down to assistant GM. They’re going to be here.”
There’s a good reason behind their demands, too. There is a lot to like about Lin’s potential to thrive in an offense with the added presence of a dominant interior player like Howard.
Lin made strides last season as the point man of an offense more or less run by Harden. Now he could finally develop into the prime of his career over the next season or two.
His tireless work ethic and growing push from backup Patrick Beverley—who came on strong in the postseason—should be enough to ensure that happens sooner rather than later.
But how is it all going to come together? Will Howard, Lin and Harden be able to play together symmetrically in a way that benefits all three of them? Howard had problems adapting to Los Angeles’ gameplan last season, but things will likely be catered to him now that he’s made the leap to Houston.
His willingness to work off of the screen with consistently could be a tipping point for the team’s realization of their goals and ultimately Lin's progression.
He should welcome Lin’s ability to create off of the pick-and-roll, which will allow the team to open up lanes for Harden and free up shooters on the perimeter, including Howard.
Howard’s ability to finish near the rim is also among the best in the league. He made 69 percent of those attempts, putting him 13th in the NBA of those with at least 200 attempts last season. Howard’s 80 percent conversion rate on pick-and-roll plays was also the best in the NBA among all roll men.
With Harden likely a prominent facilitator of pick-and-roll plays, there are going to be plenty of open looks for Lin. And he shot poorly from outside as a whole last season, hitting just 34 percent of his attempts from downtown.
Here’s a look at how he fared from the field in Houston before Howard's arrival:
Those numbers will undoubtedly go up with another year of experience and the added presence of Howard.
The question is whether or not Lin can rise to the occasion and hit the open shots that are going to be there as defenses swarm to shut down Howard in the paint and close down Harden off of the screen.
Think of Rajon Rondo in Boston for a moment. Teams differed at times, allowing Rondo open looks while focusing on the team’s more prominent players, daring him to make them pay for it on the perimeter.
That is what the immediate future holds for Lin.
The pieces are in place. Considering how hard he is willing to work and the opportunities he’s going to have, the chances of him succeeding are exceedingly high.
It’s really as simple as that.
All stats utilized in this report are courtesy of MySynergySports.com and Basketball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.