It was only a matter of time before Daryl Morey agreed to do a Reddit AMA. Between his status as reigning champion of NBA stat geeks and being the current frontrunner as Guy Dwight Howard Will Lose It On At Some Point This Year, him sitting down and talking shop with basketball diehards was inevitable.
While Morey offered a lot of insight during his back-and-forth last week, the bit that stuck out the most was his defensiveness regarding Jeremy Lin’s inaugural campaign with the Houston Rockets. When pressed on the up-and-down nature of Lin’s year, the things that Morey didn’t say were almost as fascinating as the ones he did say.
First, let’s start with his actual defense of Lin’s play:
It is amazing to me that all the time I encounter people feeling negative about Jeremy's season with us. I have chalked this up to:
-- he started off slow, mostly do to getting 100% back from injury
-- very high, unrealistic expectations after his time in New York
-- had a rough ending in the playoffs, again due to injury
-- people generally remember starts & ends more than anything else
-- people generally compare things to their expectations when forming opinions versus look at the big picture
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Last year was Jeremy's 1st full year in the league. Essentially his rookie year. If last season would have been his rookie year and he never would have played in New York, right now people would be appropriately talking about him incessantly as one of the top young rookie stars in the league. He was the starting point guard on a playoff team in West at age 24!!! Don't get me started on this. Too late...
Now, most of that is true. Lin was coming off an injury. He was still dealing with mildly unrealistic Linsanity expectations stemming from his days with the Knicks. He was bogged down in the postseason. And fans absolutely compare situations to their expectations as opposed to looking at the big picture.
That being said, none of those things qualify as the biggest reason why some folks feel that Lin didn’t live up to the billing last season. (And note the word some in that sentence, because some people think he performed as well as he could’ve given the circumstances.) The biggest reason why Lin didn’t do what some thought he might last year is because he came into a situation completely unlike the one he was originally sold on.
When Lin was stolen from the Knicks, he came in with the expectation of being the guy in Houston’s backcourt. That obviously changed when James Harden was eventually traded to the Rockets. That, more than injuries and standard rookie-who-isn’t-actually-a-rookie growing pains, was the cause of a lot of Lin-related disappointment last year. He was essentially forced to completely change around his game to mesh with Harden on very, very little notice.
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Lin is not a rookie. The idea that someone who never previously started and suddenly gets a chance to start is a rookie makes no sense. Rookies don’t get three-year, $25 million deals.
Here’s to hoping that Morey was just covering for his head coach’s inability to put Lin in a position to be successful, and not honestly buying into the idea that the only thing that held the 24-year-old back last year was inexperience and injuries.