Jeremy Lin’s questionable status with the Houston Rockets is mostly a byproduct of circumstance, not his own lack of talent. Whereas some players become marginalized because their skills deteriorate from what they were when they signed with a given ballclub, Lin remains today what he was a year ago. No, the only reason why Daryl Morey tried to trade him prior to acquiring Dwight Howard, and the reason why he’ll continue to try to move him until he and James Harden prove that they can play together, is because his style no longer meshes with the way the team was supposed to look once upon a time.
With that in mind, it’s worth noting: there are certain aspects of Lin’s game that could use fine-tuning. By now, everyone knows what he’s good at. He’s a starter-level point guard in the NBA; he has solid court vision; he has good handles, albeit not going both ways; he’s lanky; and he can score, provided you give him enough opportunities to get comfortable. Along the same lines, everyone now knows his weaknesses. He is turnover prone; he regularly gets smoked on defense (and he hasn’t become an expert flopper like Harden, who is also an awful defender); and he can’t shoot especially well.
Point guards typically reduce their turnover rate as they mature, and defense is one of those things that’s very difficult to develop. Lin could become a smarter defender, but it’s unlikely that you’ll see him on an all-defensive team anytime soon. What he can work on, however, is his shooting. Mind you, Lin isn’t a horrific shooter – he’s just not great at it. For comparison’s sake: Rajon Rondo is a 24 percent 3-point shooter; Lin is a 34 percent 3-point shooter. Heck, Kobe Bryant is a 34 percent 3-point shooter – though he admittedly takes more of them.
Here is a breakdown of Lin’s shooting from last year:
The reason why it’s important for Lin to be an above average shooter, though, is because it will a.) serve him well if the Rockets can’t trade him and b.) make him moderately more appealing trade bait.
If he stays in Houston, Lin’s role will not change. If anything, his usage will only go down because Howard will command the ball a lot more than Omer Asik used to. And seeing as Harden won’t be giving up his ball-handling responsibilities anytime soon, the onus will be on Lin to adjust. Between Harden’s fondness for driving and dishing and Howard’s bad passing limiting him to only passing the ball back outside, there will be plenty of opportunities for guys who stand on the 3-point line. That’s great for Chandler Parsons – and it can be great for Lin, too.
Similarly, showing that he can be a threat from outside will make other teams take another look at Lin. While he has all of the skills necessary to complement a franchise-type big, squads continue to view him as a third option. And if they already have a ball-dominating shooting guard, a Harden-lite, they won’t pull the trigger on a move because they’ll assume that the same redundancy that is making Lin expendable in Houston will make him expendable in his new spot. If he can develop a shot, though, then Lin suddenly becomes a piece you can plug into just about any roster in the league.
It’s continuously been proven by players in a variety of positions that shooting is the easiest part of your game to improve on – if you’re willing to work on it. Clearly Lin is willing to work hard:
Now he just needs to focus his attention on the right areas.