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Confidence In Bloom

Bolstered by big year, Jeremy Lin comes to camp brimming with newfound self-assurance

McALLEN, TEXAS - Jeremy Lin knows all the relevant numbers.

He’s well aware of the gaudy statistics he generated during the fairy tale six-week stretch that transformed him from a relative unknown to an international phenomenon. He understands the importance of his Synergy stats and how that knowledge can help him improve.

But while he will always be linked to the numbers and figures he produces on the basketball floor, perhaps his greatest area of growth from last season to today can be found in a category that can’t be numerically measured at all. Lin’s ascension to stardom last season earned him the kind of professional security that only a multi-year, multi-million dollar contract can provide. Forget about fretting over roster spots and couches. Now armed with the knowledge that he’s found a long-term home in Houston, the 24-year-old point guard enters his third NBA season with the sort of self-assurance that needs no help from numbers to be clearly recognized by his peers.

“Way more confident,” Rockets forward Chandler Parsons says of his teammate. “(It’s) night and day how much more confident he is. He’s playing like he’s the best guy on the court when he has the ball in his hands. When he’s off the court, he’s coaching the other guards. Just his whole mentality is changed because the guy was always skilled. I don’t think he did anything crazy to get better at basketball, I think it was all mental for him and I think last year really helped him become a great player.”

Quiet and soft-spoken by nature, Lin is not suddenly going to adopt the Kevin Garnett approach to leadership, unleashing a bombastic stream of profanities to get his teammates fired up. The mere thought is laughable, in fact. But the blooming of Lin’s confidence should allow him to be effective in his own way, setting the tone in training camp with an unremitting work ethic and the sort of egalitarian approach that can be so conducive to creating the culture of accountability he believes is necessary for a franchise hell-bent on achieving sustained success.

“It was just a lot of uncertainty (last year),” says Lin. “It’s a different feeling for sure today, knowing that I’ll be around for a little longer.

“I think it gives me a little more confidence to be able to be assertive and be vocal and to make plays. It’s definitely very key for me to have that confidence (to lead).”

What Lin, won’t do, however, is spend any time ruminating over what his newfound celebrity means in the grand scheme of things. Since arriving in Houston, Lin has been on the receiving end of countless questions seeking his thoughts on what it means to be the face of a franchise and what goes through his mind when he sees his visage gracing billboards both in Houston and abroad. His response to such queries never wavers: It is measured but bland, and sure to generate zero in the way of headlines – that much he wants to save for his play.

“I’m just going to keep my focus on the court," Lin says. "I just want to make sure I get better and I help this team get better. To be honest that’s all that I can really do. I can’t really think about all the extracurricular stuff. Being at Golden State, it was a little similar in terms of … having my picture all over different things – that never turned out the way I wanted it to so I wanted to make sure I just stay ready.”