Houston Rockets: Is Jeremy Lin Heating Up?

Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

If you’re like me you have also been along on the Linsanity roller coaster so far this year. I’m still a fan of him on and off the court but I am also quick to criticize his play. I understand that he is basically still a rookie but the Houston Rockets didn’t give him $25 million to gradually become a legitimate player.

However, in his last four games Jeremy Lin has been on a bit of an upwards trend. If he continues this remains to be seen, but you have got to love what he has done this past week. Last night against the Denver Nuggets he dropped 22 points and 5 assists. On Monday against the Utah Jazz he racked up 12 points, 7 assists and 3 steals. Last Saturday against the Brooklyn Nets he picked up 14 points, 9 assists and 5 rebounds. Finally, last Friday against the New Orleans Hornets he finished with 13 points, 8 assists, 5 rebounds and 6 steals.

Jeremy Lin’s biggest problem this season has been inconsistency. But in the last few games he has shown some consistency. He has struggled all season long from the arc but the last few games he has stayed away from that a bit. He’s been taking a few steps in and taking successful jump-shots instead. He has also been driving to the lane more forcing the defense to focus on him and he either finishes, gets fouled or finds an open man.

A lot of Lin fans stress that he’s a good defender, but in reality he has been mediocre. People base his defense way too much on just steals. Steals are just one part of playing great defense. But I do think he has the potential to be a great defender, he just needs to work on his footwork. This is what the offseason is for.

He still may not be back to the Linsanity days of last year on the New York Knicks, but he looks to be coming around. He will be a big reason why the Rockets either make the playoffs or fall short. No pressure though.

Topics: Houston Rockets, Jeremy Lin, NBA

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  • http://www.facebook.com/Richie.B.Chen Richie Cheng

    How people define Linsanity will be based on how people see NBA stardom. To some, Linsanity was about scoring but for me, it was about a no-name player surprising the league and turning all the players around him better and resulting in a mediocre team into a dominant force.

    Linsanity 2 is around the corner only if Rockets started playing well as a team and Lin plays a major role or contribute to that success. He will never be the main scorer as long as Harden is his backcourt partner, similar to Melo in NY.

    What i find extremely pleases is the fact Lin has finally embraced his role in the rockets team and also his willingness to ADAPT to the new team system rather than fight for the team to have a system adapt to his style. this maybe due to his early performance or the addition of harden or simply his reputation cant warrant those demands.

    what i can give credit to lin is the fact that he chose to adapt and to find ways to be relevant within this team. perhaps the Harvard IQ has a lot to do with it.

  • Wenonly

    To be honest, I am pessimistic about capability of Lin’s step-up. Beg all of you really follow the Rockets games. You will find the coach team never played Lin’s strength. And arranged his playing time so unreasonable, even intend to control his statics on purpose. Most of observers pointed out that’s because McHale tried to prove Morley that he is right and Morley is wrong. McHale played Harden and Parsons too much time no matter how tired( even exhausted) they are. One is a proven veteran, the other is the only starter last season left. McHale played Lin, Omar, PP unreasonable too. You can’t predict when they will be on the court, even they played well McHale still benched them on crunch time. TD’s playing time seems to be arranged only for defeating Lin’s confidence, TD got more longer playing time when Lin’s performance turned to be more stable or hot.

  • Wenonly

    Can you imagine the Rockets never train and play Alley-oop (one of Lin’s excellent passing skills)?? Why Omar’s catching ball skill and shooting skill in the paint area enhance so slowly, even McHale is one of the best center players in the league??
    If Omar can upgrade his shooting skill(80% of Tyson Chandler), you can imagine how many Lin’s assists will be added and how wide space of the floor will be open for the win. Omar’s playing time up and down too.
    PP is another victim. Not only because he was only a bench last season, but also he matches up with Lin’s play so much(except for his low-post attack skill). He got more assists from Lin, his playing time more shorter. Like as Omar, PP’s one-on-one attack skill enhanced slowly too.

    • calvino

      I agree. Not just McHale, but they should draft Akeem, another of the all-time greats at the low post, to train Omar in the off-season. It’s not a question that he can’t be a offensive force, it’s that it was never his role at Chicago. Like all of the Rockets, he is young, athletic and has a high basketball IQ. He has nowhere to go but up.

  • james

    testing

  • james

    We can see JLin is getting more confident lately even lacking support of the coach team. One of the reason can be that he is recovering from his injury, other reason is that he is gaining respect and chemistry from his teammates which is needed for a PG role.

  • Michael Terry

    We don’t stress his steals per game too much at all. In fact, people downplaying the steals per game is MUCH more common.

    As a matter of fact, despite your casual dismissal, steals are part of defense and people who are good at gettings steals are much more likely to actually be good defenders, so he’s already got a leg up.

    Mediocre? What’s his biggest weakness? Getting over the top of screens? Despite what people say, he gets over the top of screens much faster than most guards. I would love to watch a game in the room with someone and have them show me the percentage of times Lin gets over a screen fast and compare it to the opposing guard. How about last game against Ty Lawson? Please do go back and break it down on film for me and try to make that claim.

    Sometimes cherry pick a handful of the best scoring games against Lin as evidence he’s poor at defense. Of course, they don’t compare against the handful of high scoring games other elite guards give up to the opposition. They also don’t watch the film and see that, as against Deron Williams recently, 9 of Williams 20 1st quarter points were against Toney Douglas. They also don’t acknowledge the offense has a big advantage in basketball and some guards appear to be highly motivated and have the coach’s permission to go against Lin one on one as hard as the want. Do you think that Lin has that permission? Do you honestly think that’s irrelevant? Brooklyn lost. Who played a winning style of basketball?

    Moving on, last year, Lin was second in the entire freaking NBA, among starting guards, at steals-blocks-charges taken/40, behind only Rubio. Every one of the top 5, other than Lin, would be considered an elite defender. Why isn’t Lin, do you imagine? I can make some guesses, but they don’t have anything to do with this ability.

    Why IS Lin a good defender anyway? Well, we know that at his combine tests, he measured with a faster first step than Kyrie Irving, John Wall, and Derrick Rose. Don’t want to believe that, even though it’s easy to verify online. Well, we know that Morey has accelerometers on the practice jerseys, and Lin’s acceleration is the fastest they’ve ever measured. That’s also trivially verifiable.

    Anyone who’s watched the games can see how well Lin defends tall players that try to post him up, something smaller guards are terrible at. He’s had some spectacular plays against Kobe and Lebron and lots of others. They all think they’ll take him. And he shuts them down.

    Like any guard, Lin needs good team defense to truly excel. In the same way that, when he gets a pick, there’s no way Rose or Westbrook or Lawson can keep him from getting to the hoop, Lin can also be picked off. The silly on-sided way people talk about these plays is ridiculous as if picks are a special problem for Lin and other elite guards handle them with aplomb. No, they don’t, watch the games. For example, how well did Lawson do last night?

    There’s plenty of other statistical evidence that Lin is a good defender. When he started playing for the Knicks, they were a bottom third team in defensive efficiency. In a couple weeks, they’d moved up to 5th. This was explained away as Amare and Melo being out, who both suck at defense. There’s a few problems with this theory. First, substitution level players would not have such a big impact. Lin did. Second, Amare and Melo came back, but the defensive efficiency stayed high. However, the best evidence is that the Lin/Tyson Chandler two-man lineup had the #1 defensive rating among all pairing on the team. Not only that, they were #17 in the entire NBA. Lin wasn’t just along for the ride.

    There’s lots and lots else. For example, in Lin’s year in the D-league when they won the championship, Lin had the #1 DRtg in the entire league. As a point freaking guard. Not a shot blocking center. If he’d had the #2 or less rating, you could argue that he was the beneficiary of the halo effect of some center or something. But he wasn’t #2. He was #1.

    The eagerness of humans to dismiss those with whom they disagree with non-substantive arguments such as that they are Asian and LOFs is regrettable and impossible to overcome. I’m well aware that my evidence based argument will sway no opinions. Nevertheless, Lin is going to go on to have a far better career than you imagine, and sooner than you think. I thought this long, long ago when he was at Harvard, and there were plenty of naysayers then. Who was right, me or them?

    Do you think there’s some college scout somewhere saying, “Yeah, I was right, Lin was really just a Div II prospect. Soon he’ll be exposed.”

    As someone said, look on the bright side. At least Lin doesn’t have a history of proving people wrong!

    • Gene Lean

      This is by far the best analysis on Lin’s game anywhere, including blogs by celebrity columnists. Well done sir.

    • calvino

      wow.. you’re comment is much more thorough and well-reasoned than the actual article. You should be writing for this blog. So many writers just make blanket statements against Lin, such as he’s a poor defender or turns the ball over too much or shoot a low percentage, without doing a thorough analysis. the main reason Lin is doing better lately is that they are running the offense through him more instead of just dumping off the ball to Harden. It’s inexplicable that the coaches benched him for such a long period against Denver when he was playing so well.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tim.tam.3914 Tim Tam

    In the beginning of the season, I agree with the writer that Jlin’s defense was mediocre. Douglas seemed better for his fast hands and feet Lin always lost the one that he guarded for slow footwork, especially lost to screens set by opponents. But, recently, I don’t think so. Lin has improved a lot against screens. In Utah’s game, not only he almost shut down Tinsley (the one he was supposed to guard), he also helped out many times to shut dowm Jefferson (double teamed Jefferson, helping out Asiks). Especially in one instance, Asiks was not able to contain Jefferson, Jlin jumped in to contain Jefferson and got the jump ball. In that jump ball, Defino got the fast break to score. Machale later openly praised Lin’s defense for helping to shutting down Jazz’s threat.

    In other way, Harden’s defense is really mediocre. Lately, Harden’s shooting is off quite a bit too. But he still used his eurosteps to attack (Lin is always the fastest Rockets, for Rockets measured their speeds in practice), and gets to the line very often. But, Nuggets had started to figure out Harden a bit, so many times they stole the ball from Harden (TO). Harden’s shooting is not very consistent lately, but because of he took a lot of shots and still go to the line a lot, so he still scores over 20. But, someday, if referees makes less calls for him, and other teams like Nuggets can figure out Harden’s plays more, Harden will become less efficent.

    I don’t understand these sport writers can’t see details of the difference of Lin’s recent plays, and still stay in the stereotypes of Lin’s plays in thes. earlier season

  • http://twitter.com/awarde joyce ward

    @google-42a79ca0601223a9431cccd1c75860da:disqus u Slam Dunked this article. U done good!!!!!!

  • disqus_NvUXd8LF20

    The only problem JLin has is called James Harden who is playing only for his own statistic.

    Harden has a negative +/- ratio so many times and it is amazing how people don’t talk about that.

    Kevin McHale – I know it is hard to put 80M on the bench.

    But if you want to win games, benched Harden more often, Jeremy will score 20+ every game, the team will play much more enjoyable basketball to watch and you will win more games. Just try it.

  • Wenonly

    Lin’s dfense IQ should be one of the best players in NBA. Unless he hasn’t enough time to survey his opponent PGs, he can predict their opponent PGs’ movement and stand-by on the best defense position before they move. If there is no other elite shooters in opponents, the PG will never got good performance.(please refer to last game vs Harnet). As to steels, I think it’s only one of Lin’s strategies for controlling the rhythm on both side(including defense and offense). If you really follow Lin’s games, you will find why sometime he keep passing the balls to insiders, but sometimes only passing a little. That’s depended on the opponents’ strength and weakness.

  • Wenonly

    That’s why Lin’s games are so funny to watch and his teammates so trust on him. Because he is not only a elite passer, possess good court vision, but also an art of strategics.(Amare Stoudemire had been talked about it). What a pity the Rockets coaches can’t trust Lin’s basketball IQ and let him dominate the ball all game.