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Stop The Insanity!

Forget the puns, the only thing that matter is this: Jeremy Lin can play

HOUSTON - First things first: You’ll be seeing no puns here in this space. Not now, not ever. That’s a promise.

Because the fact of the matter is that Jeremy Lin is much more than a ready-made moniker made for easy headlines. He’s not just some Disney movie come to life. And despite what you may have heard, he’s also far more than a mere marketing machine.

Jeremy Lin is a basketball player. And he’s a damn good one at that.

We’ll go into much greater detail during the days to follow, but here’s a primer for those who are dubious or only just now paying close attention to the numbers behind the phenomenon:

Jeremy Lin was a very good pick-and-roll player and a spectacular performer out of the isolations last year. His Synergy stats in those categories: .797 points per possession when operating out of the pick-and roll, good enough to rank him in the 63rd percentile at his position, and a whopping 1.022 points per possession in iso situations, which put him in the NBA’s 95th percentile. Those numbers are downright elite. And just in case you’re wondering, the bread and butter of Rockets Head Coach Kevin McHale’s offense is the pick-and-roll. Jeremy Lin will have the ball in his hands a ton and he, like Kyle Lowry and Goran Dragic did before him, can be expected to thrive as the primary playmaker driving the team’s offense.

Jeremy Lin is an excellent rebounder for his position. His 6.6 rebound rate put him 16th among all point guards last year and his 11.1 defensive rebound rate was good enough for 13th overall.

Jeremy Lin gets to the free throw line in bunches. Lin averaged 5.2 free throw attempts per game last season, placing him 6th among all point guards in that category. And during his jaw-dropping January run, he bulled his way to the line more than seven times per game.

Jeremy Lin has promise on the defensive end as well. Lin ranked in the 68th percentile at his position when defending the pick-and-roll ball handler, and though some of that is surely do to the presence of Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler, Lin’s above average size (6-3, 200 pounds) and strength allow him the ability to fight and work his way through screens. And though steals are by no means a strong metric of defensive ability, it’s worth pointing out that Lin ranked in the league’s top-10 at the point guard position by averaging 1.57 thefts per game. Like all young players (Lin is just 23-years-old), the Harvard product has plenty of work to do to improve on the defensive side of the ball. But newsflash: the lightning quick point guards of this league give everyone fits. Lin’s smarts and work ethic, however, should help him steadily improve over time.

About that work ethic: Jeremy Lin is a gym rat and you’ll find absolutely no one in the league who doubts his dedication to learning and mastering his craft. Lin will live in the Rockets’ practice court and weight room, and will devour as much film as the club’s staff can prepare for him. He’ll put in the time to ensure his shooting improves (and it already improved greatly from the year before) and turnovers decrease.

And for those still clinging to the belief that Lin is some kind of flash in the pan, it’s certainly worth noting that the Rockets’ track record at identifying quality point guard prospects over the past five years has been first rate. From Aaron Brooks to Kyle Lowry to Goran Dragic, this regime has consistently pinpointed players who know how to play the position, regardless of whether or not the general public had already caught on when they were acquired.

Jeremy Lin is not a finished product. And that, perhaps, is the most exciting aspect of all. The world watched as his storybook tale unfolded and it was undoubtedly amazing. But what if the best is yet to come? What if the Jeremy Lin saga is only just beginning?

We’re all about to find out the answer. So forget about the puns. The only thing that truly matters: Jeremy Lin can play and help the Rockets win games.  And there’s nothing insane about that.