Most of the hype during the Houston Rockets’ 8-8 start belonged to James Harden, showing what he can do with a starting role and more minutes on the floor. It almost made people forget about last season’s biggest sensation, Jeremy Lin, who proves from time to time he’s more than just a jersey selling machine.
In fact, since leaving the Knicks and signing with the Rockets, Lin’s name is nowhere to be found among the best-selling jerseys in the NBA. Maybe that’s good for him; getting recognition only when he deserves it, instead of being the poster child for Harvard athletes and Asian-American basketball prospects.
For once, Lin actually meant more to the team’s win than Harden did. In the Rockets’ 124-116 win over the Utah Jazz seven playes finished in double figures, as Lin finished with 19 (tied for second best on the the team, next to Chandler Parsons) and 8 assists, improving his averages to 10.9 and 6.6 assists. For once, his field goal percentage wasn’t atrocious finishing with 8-14 from the field, although he’s still under the .400 mark for the season.
Lin is fighting everything last season built up for him to battle against. The crazy expectations that he created through two impossible to explain weeks of basketball. Fighting the perception of his awful defense, which is hidden in the fact that the Rockets don’t defend well as a team anyway; fighting the notion that he’s overpaid and will never be the kind of point guard that is good enough to lead an ambitious team in the NBA.
It’s a great thing for him to have James Harden by his side. Harden is a natural scorer, averaging 24.1 points so far this season, but he also takes off so much pressure from Lin, willingly. After being the third option to get the ball while playing for the Thunder,he’s thriving as being the first option to shoot the ball with the Rockets. Not just to shoot actually; the man making most of the shots, a semi point guard, helping Lin take control of this team, something he clearly can’t do on his own.
There’s a lot more balance, and I think the ball is moving. We’re getting our bigs in a spot that they need to be to keep the floor spread. It’s starting to look more and more dangerous.
There’s more to the Rockets than just Lin and Harden; it just needs the right kind of basketball, passing and positioning to show everyone.
It’s about making Omer Asik become more and more of an inside threat, after being used to getting very few opportunities on offense while playing for the Bulls. Asik is a monster in the paint when it comes to rebounds, but it looks like he’s realizing the potential he has to cause damage, looking to add more to his game each time he’s on the floor. Chandler Parsons and Patrick Patterson are the guys who will get the open looks. Harden draws the focus, so does Lin. One of them, almost always, is open. When they combine for 50% from beyond the arc, the Rockets’ offense is as good as any in the league.
There’s still a matter of defense, and of making things work when they’re on the road (2-5 so far this season). But the Rockets have a special team, an exciting one to watch, especially on offense. Jeremy Lin, believe it or not, is a big part of everything good that’s happening for them this season.