Just because you don’t make the All-Star game, doesn’t mean you’re not one by ability and production. Jeremy Lin isn’t one of the best two or three point guards in the Western Conference, but his growth and improvement this summer, along with what the Houston Rockets are trying to do, should be enough to put him on the right path, at the right pace, en route to showing on a nightly basis that he deserves to be mentioned among the best of his position in the league.
The Dwight Howard issue can explode in the Rockets’ face. The potential for some sort of social breakdown in the team exists, although one difference between last year’s Lakers and this year’s Rockets is age. Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Pau Gasol are all deep into their 30’s. Dwight Howard isn’t a teenager, but he probably has a lot more in common with James Harden, Jeremy Lin and Chandler Parsons.
We’ve been over this before – Dwight Howard arriving should be enough to change the balance in the Rockets backcourt in Lin’s favor. He might not see more shots than last season (averaging 10.9 field goal attempts per game), but he is going to have the ball more in his hands than before, as it’s going to take someone a little less selfish than James Harden (who is selfish for a slightly good reason) in order to make the Howard thing work.
It comes down to this – when you have more than one player that love having the ball in their hands, it’s better to have a third player to balance them out. That didn’t work with the Lakers last season because Nash was either injured or simply had no problem giving up the ball to Kobe Bryant to do as he wishes, while Dwight Howard was left frustrated more than once for a smaller role than he had previously.
Lin is going to be the one who makes that balance work, because if Harden has the ball in his hands as much as he did last year (9th in the NBA with a 29% usage percentage), we’re going to see an unhappy Dwight Howard very quickly. Lin isn’t going to get the chance to take 15 shots a game, but he’ll be doing a lot more of what he should have been doing last year: playing like a real point guard, and not just a spot up shooter waiting for Harden to give up the ball.
Is Lin going to be an All-Star? His only chance, to be truthful, is as a starter, because he wasn’t far from finishing in the top two guards in votes last year. Being of Asian heritage makes it easier being popular on a global level. It’s hard seeing Lin getting in as a head coach selection. But he’ll be better than last year, that’s for sure. He’s averaging 14 points, 3.7 rebounds and 4.3 assists in the preseason, while shooting 61.9% from the field and 66.7% from beyond the arc.
Despite the “decision” Kevin McHale has to make between Lin and Patrick Beverley, it’s going to be an easy choice. Lin as a starter, with more time as the ball handler, and after a summer of improving his game. He might not make the All-Star game, but he’s going to play a lot closer to that level.