Year in Review: Jeremy Lin
Reflecting upon Jeremy Lin's past, present and future following the 2013-14 campaign
Jeremy Lin’s second season with the Rockets began with him coming off the bench in a reserve role that was intended to maximize his ability to make plays with the ball in his hands while providing relief at the one- and two-spots for starters Patrick Beverley and James Harden, respectively. That setup lasted less than one game when Beverley was forced to leave Houston’s opening night matchup against the Bobcats with an abdominal injury.
And while Beverley would return to action sooner than expected, the forced reshuffling of the Rockets’ rotation due to myriad injuries and ailments proved to be a season-long theme. Lin did reprise his super-sub role a fair bit during the 2013-14 campaign, but he ended up seeing almost as much time as a starter as he did as a reserve. Lin started 33 of the 71 games he played this past season, producing per minute numbers quite similar to the ones he posted the year prior.
Lin began the regular season on fire and finished it with a flourish as well, but in between those two end points he largely ran hot and cold. A similar thermal vacillation then manifested itself in the playoffs as Lin struggled in some games against the Blazers while shining in others, most notably when he poured in 21 points off the bench during the Rockets’ season-saving Game 5 victory.
From the perspective of pure statistical largesse, it’s pretty tough to top what Lin delivered during a November night in Philly when the 25-year-old dropped 34 points and 11 assists – both season highs – on the Sixers. Oh, and did we mention that Lin sank a career-high nine 3s that evening as well? The only problem: Philadelphia stormed back behind the similarly extraordinary shooting exploits of James Anderson to stun Houston 123-117.
So with an acknowledgement that winning must serve as the benchmark that stands at the forefront of this search for seasonal superlatives, why not instead pay homage to J-Lin’s first career triple-double? The Harvard grad needed a mere 29 minutes to reach that lofty mark on February 1, serving up 15 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists during the Rockets’ 106-92 rout of the Cleveland Cavaliers. In the process, Lin became the first Rockets player to come off the bench to record a triple-double since Cedric Maxwell accomplished the feat on March 31, 1988.
THE NEXT STEP
Lin characterized his 2013-14 campaign as an “up and down year” and while he certainly spent his fair share of time on the NBA roller coaster this season, the fourth-year guard still managed to produce at a level indicating his career arc remains on an upward trajectory.
Lin’s biggest strides came as a shooter as he established career highs in both 3-point percentage (.358) and true shooting percentage (.572). In fact, the Ivy League product’s true shooting figure was 10th among all point guards this season, eclipsing the marks posted by All-Stars Damian Lillard and Kyrie Irving. Lin also ranked well above average as a catch-and-shoot threat, knocking down better than 40 percent of his catch-and-shoot opportunities from beyond the arc. And not only did Lin improve upon his 3-point accuracy for the fourth consecutive year, he did the same with regard to his finishing touch around the rim where he managed to knock down more than 62 percent of his shots taken from that area this season – this after connecting at a rate of 58.1 and 48.7 percent, respectively, during the prior two seasons.
That improvement speaks to the hard work and diligence with which Lin approaches his craft – characteristics he’ll undoubtedly continue to lean upon as he seeks to make the most of the potential he possesses. And while the fine-tuning of his skills will be a perpetual point of emphasis, it is perhaps within the pursuit of a mental mastery of the game where Lin might find the biggest gains going forward. Improved decision-making will help him simultaneously increase his assist rate while cutting down on the turnovers, a double-dip combo that would help transform him into a far bigger threat in the eyes of opposing defenders.
Lin is an admitted risk taker on the court and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. But by learning to better analyze and instantly assess the difference between smart risk and foolish gambles, Lin can greatly increase the odds that his future bets go boom rather than bust.