There’s no doubt that the Houston Rockets are one of the funnest teams to watch this NBA Season, with an exciting new backcourt consisting of the excellent James Harden and the incosistent Jeremy Lin. Finding a way to make Lin a bit more comfortable with his new role is going to be they key to their success, and his for the rest of his NBA career.
Last season Lin was thrust into an unknown situation, to which he adapted to very well, at least in the first two weeks. If the offense is supposed to go soley through him, and Lin gets to work a lot through Pick n’ Rolls and dictate most of the plays on the floor, he seems to thrive.
For the Houston Rockets, he’s in a new situation. No longer the only ball-handler on the floor, but a point guard who spends most of his time on the floor without the ball. James Harden is the man for the Houston Rockets, written on paper as a shooting guard but in truth, Harden is everything for the Rockets. The guys who creates plays and quite often finishes them. He’s averaging 24.7 points per game, dropping 39 in the loss to the Dallas Mavericks. A game in which Jeremy Lin spent only 18 minutes on the floor, scoring 7 points.
Lin has a few issues that make him very limited when he’s guarded the right way, or not utilized by his team the way he should be. The problem is that when it’s a decision between going with what works for Harden or what works for Lin, the answer is the bearded man every time. Lin is getting starter minutes, but he’s not producing and playing like a good point guard should be.
He’s averaging 9.9 points and 6.1 assists per game, but while those aren’t the worse numbers in the world, looking at his shooting percentages; 38.1% from the field and 26.5% from beyond the arc, you can see there’s quite a problem here. Playing alongside Harden turns Lin into a guy moving off the ball, looking for his shot instead of creating it. The Rockets don’t play enough pick n’ roll plays, while setting screens for set jumpers aren’t the best thing for Lin because of his inconsistent jumper.
Another problem for Lin is his inability to make anything happen on the left side of the ball. He goes right once, twice, and eventually, teams pick that up. He can’t go to the left, finish with his left or when going to the left. Once again, it’s something he is working at, but the Rockets, being a team run by James Harden, don’t run any complicated offenses. The things that worked but eventually limited the Oklahoma City Thunder, a much more talented team than the Rockets, are what the Rockets are using to make things as comfortable as possible for Harden. Jeremy Lin, an inferior player but still with a lot of potential to be a much more dominant one, is somewhat lost in these offensive schemes.
The two weeks from last season aren’t going to be a common thing. Lin just isn’t an elite point guard. He’ll get better, but the question that remains is if Jeremy Lin can become more than a borderline starting point guard on a team that is looking to finish higher than in the first round of the postseason.