Jeremy Lin looked really good in the Houston Rockets’ victory over the Indiana Pacers on Sunday. He played within the flow of the offense, got his 17 points on a very efficient six-of-eight from the field, and made three out of the four three-pointers he attempted.
Sure, there were negatives – most notably his inability to stop giving the ball away. When certain players rack up three turnovers in a preseason game, it’s written off as sloppiness that will be worked out before the regular season begins. When Lin, who has struggled with turning the ball over throughout his entire career does it, then it’s a little different. Still, all in all, he looked good against the Pacers.
So why isn’t anyone talking about how comfortable he looked on the court after something of a disappointing first season with the Rockets? Mostly because he doesn’t anyone talking about him.
"I've had such a wide spectrum from literally no expectations to every expectation,” he said during a recent interview. “Now it's gone back down to lower expectations.
And Lin wants to keep it that way. In a lot of ways, Linsanity was both the best and worst thing to ever happen to him. It obviously set him up financially for the rest of his life and took him from ‘nobody’ status to international superstar, but it also created unrealistic expectations that he just couldn’t live up.
"I think learning to manage expectations, learning to deal with expectations, learning which voices to tune out, that takes time," he acknowledged. "You have to fail at it to get where you want to get to."
At this stage in the game, Lin is just focused on winning. He’s past the point where people will just be impressed because he’s good. He understands that now it’s championship or bust, and with the addition of Dwight Howard, the call for instant success will be much louder than it was last year.
"I think for our team a key thing for us is to block out what's coming in from the outside,” Lin said. “We're going to have losing streaks. We're going to have slumps. Every team does that. It's a matter of being focused, making all of our concerns internal, communicating openly, directly with each other. I think those are some of the keys when you talk about turning out outside noise and staying focused on our own expectations.”
Managing expectations, not getting too highs during the highs, and not getting too lows during the lows is going to be key to Lin’s success this year. If the attitude he’s exhibiting now is a sign of things to come, he may be in for a much smoother ride in 2013-14.