One game of the Houston Rockets actually playing very well without Jeremy Lin playing a major part of it doesn’t mean that the team is actually better with him as a sixth man while James Harden is paired up with Patrick Beverley in the backcourt, but obviously, there is more than one side to this.
There’s the Houston Rockets side, but like many teams, what they want and what they actually need doesn’t always match. More often than not, using Jeremy Lin as a starting point guard who actually plays like a point guard has led to their best basketball over the last two seasons. Sure, there are flaws to his game that we and everyone else has mentioned in the past: His defense can always be upgraded and his turnovers when he cuts inside. he middle and often passes without looking can lead to some great plays but to enraging mistakes as well. However, Lin in the lineup, as a point guard, next to Harden, works.
But the Houston Rockets and the men in-charge – Daryl Morey in the front office and Kevin McHale on the sidelines, see things differently. For them, the main path of winning is by playing superstar basketball, which means relying on James Harden. Yes, he’s a guy who can score 25-30 points a night, sometimes making it look effortless. But it’s a random factor that sometimes explodes in their faces: Harden can have awful shooting nights, which don’t stop him from taking on more and more defenders, leading to more and more bad shots while ignoring his teammates. This doesn’t happen every game, but you can split his annoying selfish performances with the heroic fourth quarter salvage jobs to about 60-40 or maybe even 70-30, on the wrong side. When Harden doesn’t need (or isn’t called to) save the day on his own, it usually means something went right during the first three quarters.
However, the vision of Lin being a starting point guard and making Harden the undeniable star, point guard and all-can-do player on the floor doesn’t mesh together, so someone has to pay the price. Dwight Howard isn’t a side in this. He plays well if there’s someone that gives him the ball in comfortable situations. More often than not, it’s Lin, although Harden does find some sort of fast break muse at times that allows him to feed the ball to others and not just pad his own stats.
The Jeremy Lin side of it? Lin is a team player. He doesn’t sulk, he doesn’t go out to the media and makes hints and allegations about not getting enough time on the court or in a certain role. He’s not going to blow this thing up just because he thinks he can play more and he’s being misused. But he’s starting point guard material on at least half the teams in this league, including those aiming for a shot at the playoffs. At some point, it’s going to become a bit much living with the thought of being wasted away because of a certain company policy that favors one player over another for no apparent reason.
The latest on the rumor mill is linking the Celtics and the Rockets in a trade that includes Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin going to the Boston Celtics for Rajon Rondo. Rondo? The guy who has looked awful since coming back, and isn’t guaranteed to play like before the injury? A point guard who has no mid-range or long range shooting skills, which means they can’t use him as a second guard off of Harden, who loves the ball in his hands? Something about this doesn’t make sense, including the fact that the Celtics are willing to trade Rondo if someone gives them a good offer (Lin & Asik is a good one), but Danny Ainge might be another who isn’t a huge fan of Lin’s, and the Celtics’ main goal is shedding $$$$ of their salary cap, not add two players with one more year for $8.3 million each.
You can’t ignore history, which has shown us Lin just isn’t what the guys running the Rockets want. Is he the player they need? Probably, but only if they use him right. For Lin the best thing is obviously playing somewhere that allows him the time and role he deserves to be in and excel in. Right now, it isn’t Houston, but it doesn’t mean that the things that should happen will happen this season.