Not a lot has changed since yesterday when I ranted on once again about how the Houston Rockets are ruining their season by putting all their eggs in the James Harden basket, but a great post from Rob Mahoney on the growing efficiency of Jeremy Lin in his offensive game thanks to the presence of Dwight Howard and generally Lin learning from past mistakes got me back on the keyboard again.
In his latest edition of The Fundamentals, Mahoney doesn’t take a macro look at the whole Rockets messy situation, but simply focuses on what Lin and Howard can achieve as a pick & roll duo. Lin, who can be one of the more destructive forces in this league if he’s partnered with the right big man to run pick & rolls time after time, has greatly improved his ability to make decisions on the fly this season when driving into the paint.
What used to be him slightly panicking as the defense learns to read his reactions, often leading to taking bad shots or making blind passes (which still happens, hence the 2.84 turnovers per game) has changed. It has to do with Howard, who can be the best pick & roll big man in the NBA when his mind isn’t set on trying to earn his bread in the post, but it also has to do with Lin working on his game during the summer, improving what might have been his biggest issue in the offensive game.
From the article: He’s improved his shooting percentage out of pick-and-roll scenarios from 47 percent to an even 50 (per Synergy Sports) — less than a point shy of LeBron James’ pick-and-roll efficiency. And after drawing shooting fouls on just 8.8 percent of his pick-and-roll possessions last season, Lin now earns a trip to the line on 15 percent. He’s an incredibly consistent scorer when he’s not setting up Howard for easy scores, and in many ways a more sophisticated shot creator than when at the height of his narrative power.
The problem with all this adjustments and improvements, not to mention having the best big man he’s ever partnered with in his short NBA career? It’s just not being used as much as it should be. No one is suggesting Lin should play 42 minutes and attack the basket on every possession, but the approach that has been leading the Rockets to mediocrity and underachieving over the last two years (James Harden above everyone else) takes away from what we should be seeing a lot more.
For Rockets fans it should obviously be frustrating because it doesn’t put an emphasis on the talents of their point guard, center and other players on the team which is costing them wins. Even for neutrals who have no stake in the matter, this should be frustrating, as another pair of NBA GM-Head Coach decide to do the easy thing by simply giving their “superstar” a carte blanche to do whatever he likes on the floor, and then pointing blaming fingers in the wrong direction when it doesn’t work out as planned.