At one point in time, it was controversial to suggest that Jeremy Lin struggled in his inaugural campaign with the Houston Rockets. Even if you prefaced that statement with the admission that he was still a solid player, and that he admittedly got thrust into circumstances that he wasn’t entirely prepared for, just noting that he didn’t perform to expectations in 2012 was considered some sort of slight against Lin’s ability to play basketball at a high level.
Thankfully we’ve moved past that. Now, even Lin’s most rabid fans will acknowledge that things didn’t go according to plan last year. The reason why that’s important is because, until you admit there was a problem, you can’t determine why the problem existed in the first place. And if you can’t determine why the problem existed, you can’t fix it.
A lot of theories have been floated over the past month about why Lin struggled in his first season with the Rockets. During his Reddit AMA, Daryl Morey said it was because of injuries. That’s a pretty popular theory. Lin himself blamed it on the injuries at various points, as well as the pressure of having to constantly perform at a high level finally getting to him.
It’s hard to argue that injuries and pressure weren’t major stumbling blocks for Lin last season, but it’s important to remember another pretty major one: Kevin McHale.
From the moment that the Rockets acquired James Harden, McHale did everything in his power to tailor the offense towards him. That left Lin, who has a very specific set of skills that need to be utilized in a very particular way, out in the cold. No reasonable person will make the case that Patrick Beverley is a better player than Lin, but he played better when it mattered most last year. Why is that the case? Because he is more malleable. Houston needed someone beside Harden who didn’t need anything drawn up for him; who could just stand and wait – something Lin couldn’t do.
The biggest reason why Lin struggled in 2012-13 wasn’t his injuries or the pressure, it was McHale’s inability to put him in position to be successful.
During a recent interview with China Central Television, Lin was asked about the difference between McHale and Mike D’Antoni. Lin’s analysis was fascinating.
The whole interview is worth a viewing, really, if you have the time. Check it out below.