Bleacher Report – Q4 Mystery Minutes

Interesting article concerning the minutes Jeremy is getting in the final quarter as a critical piece to his development as a [franchise] player. I’ll highlight certain parts in red to emphasis.

Bleacher Report: Jeremy Lin’s Inconsistent 4th-Quarter Minutes Continue to Stunt Development

When the Houston Rockets acquired Jeremy Lin this offseason, many expected the rising star to become the organization’s franchise player. James Harden’s arrival and Kevin McHale’s coaching tactics have since created a different path for Lin.

Most notably, Lin’s inconsistent fourth-quarter minutes continue to stunt his development.

During the Houston Rockets’ 117-111 loss to the Sacramento Kings, Lin saw one minute and 51 seconds of playing time during the fourth quarter. With that being said, Lin was also in foul trouble.

Unfortunately, Lin seeing the bench late has been consistent regardless of foul trouble.

This issue started in November, as Rockets assistant coach Kelvin Sampson claimed Lin was benched during fourth quarters because of his defense (via NBA.com). Since then, we’ve seen more of the same.

The question is, what does Sampson believe improves when Lin is on the bench?

According to NBA.com, the Rockets are allowing 102.4 points per 48 minutes when Lin is on the floor. That numbers drops to 102.0 points per 48 when Lin is riding the pine.

Not so fast.

NBA.com proceeds to report that the Rockets are allowing 103.9 points per 100 possessions with Lin on the floor. That number rises to 104.3 when Lin is off the floor.

In other words, the Rockets are actually a better defensive team when Lin is on the floor.

With this being known, it remains unclear as to why the Rockets would leave Lin on the bench. With all due respect to Patrick Beverley and Toney Douglas, it appears as if Lin has the higher ceiling.

Until his minutes hit a more consistent level, Lin will continue to come up short of reaching his potential.

Develop or Give Up on Harden and Lin

Thus far in 2012-13, Jeremy Lin is averaging 18.3 points and 8.9 assists per 48 minutes in which James Harden is on the bench. When Harden is on the floor, those numbers drop to 12.9 points and 6.3 assists.

Perhaps most concerning of all, Lin is shooting 43 percent from the floor and 28 percent from three with Harden on the floor. Those numbers jump to 47 percent from the field and 48 percent from distance when Harden is on the bench.

The Rockets must either abandon their current pairing of Harden and Lin altogether or commit to developing the tandem.

From a financial perspective, the Rockets have committed to Harden and Lin as a duo. Lin averages roughly $8.4 million over the next three years, while Harden averages $16.0 million.

Unfortunately, the minutes and strategy fail to match the money.

The Rockets defer to Harden in virtually every scenario. This forces Lin, the point guard, to play off the ball and step in to play based off of his weaknesses.

Lin is one of the league’s better dribble penetrators, yet he’s being forced to become a spot-up shooter.

Until the Rockets’ coaching staff figures out a way to use Lin on-ball and Harden off of it, the Harvard graduate will continue to struggle. Should a balance be created, however, both men can thrive.

The ball is in coach Kevin McHale’s court, in that sense.

Proven Fourth-Quarter Performer

During the 2011-12 NBA regular season, Jeremy Lin shot 49.5 percent from the floor during the fourth quarter. He also converted 56.3 percent of his fourth-quarter three-point attempts.

In other words, Lin was straight-up clutch.

In 2012-13, Lin is fifth on the Houston Rockets in terms of fourth-quarter field-goal attempts. Surprisingly, second on the team is Toney Douglas.

The backup point guard who has taken Lin’s place come the fourth quarter.

By comparison, Lin is shooting 41.7 percent on fourth-quarter field goals. Douglas rests at 39.4 percent in that capacity.

So why not make the switch?

Lin may not be performing at an All-Star caliber, but he’s proven to be a player that shines in the spotlight. There is no brighter light than those that shine in the fourth quarter.

So why not let Lin do what he does best and take over in the fourth quarter?

Until the Rockets allow Lin to thrive in his most comfortable setting, he will continue to struggle in Houston. The Harvard graduate thrives in clutch situations and is clearly at his best when the ball is in his hands.

The question is, when will coach Kevin McHale allow him to play in the manner most comfortable to him?

All Star Weekend 2013

allstar_selection

Although Jeremy won’t be part of the main event of All-Star weekend despite his 600,000 votes, we still have a chance to see him in the Skills Challenge. Along side Jeremy are:

  • Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs [Defending champion]
  • Jrue Holiday of the Philadelphia 76ers
  • Brandon Knight of the Detroit Pistons
  • Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers
  • Jeff Teague of the Atlanta Hawks

Three players representing the Western Conference and three players representing the Eastern Conference will compete in the two-round competition. The two competitors with the fastest times from their respective conferences in the Team Round advance to the Championship Round.

Elsewhere in Houston (both now and next week) are Chandler Parsons as part of Team Shaq in the Rising Stars Challenge and James Harden as a reserve for the of the main event All-Star gaming representing the Western Conference. Good luck to all the Rockets next week!

All contests will be broadcast nationally on TNT.

Friday, Feb 15th
9:00 PM ET – Rising Stars Challenge

Saturday, Feb 16th
8:30 PM ET – Shooting Stars, Skills Challenge, 3-Point Contest, then Slam Dunk Contest

Sunday, Feb 17th
8:00 PM ET – All-Star Game

Everybody Wants to be King of New York

Stanford, UCLA, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, and the New York Knicks.

The list of organizations that had Jeremy Lin in their grasp just to let him go again. Each one expressed the deepest regret of using their biased gut, and not taking a closer look and believing in their eyes. The Rockets learned their lesson and made an effort to rectify their mistake, one that seemed futile two weeks ago, but only succeeded when the Knicks made the same mistake as so many have done before them. What makes it so much worse for the Knicks is that they saw Linsanity up close and should have known exactly how much Jeremy changed basketball in Madison Square Garden. The lack of offer from the Knicks came down to three factors, two of which should have heavily favored Jeremy, while the last ultimately trumped both others.

The Money

Ticket prices and sales of Jeremy’s jersey (#2 for 2012) are only a glimpse of what he brought to the team. Linsanity also brought prominence to several of his Knicks teammates, most notably Landry Fields, Jared Jefferies, Steve Novak, and Iman Shumpert. Being a public company, Madison Square Garden stock has benefitted greatly from Jeremy and its increase in market value since February 2011 is about 10 times the annual salary of the entire Knicks roster. The reality is that nobody has even begun to truly capitalize on Jeremy marketing value. Since Linsanity, he’s only signed two endorsement contracts, one for Volvo and a renewal with Nike [edit: also Steiner Sports as a 3rd]. A countless number of firms have unofficially used his name and likeness to sell products, but we have only seen the tip of the iceberg due to his flash celebrity. It’s been analyzed over and over again, but the cost of Jeremy’s contract, which would have been a very distant 4th on the team, would be nothing compared to his revenue generating potential. This factors in if ALL of the luxury tax were to be attributed to him solely and his performance regresses to an uninspiring league average despite increased NBA experience. Aside from Jeremy destroying his own image (i.e. Jason Kidd’s drunk driving), which is unlikely given his flawless background, signing him would have guaranteed a substantial net positive income for the Knicks. That being said, it wasn’t about the money.

The Basketball

A popular argument against Jeremy is that he’s still unproven and his limited experience of 35 games last season is a risk. Being good in a competitive sport is about perspective. If the Knicks had gotten Steve Nash, then one could argue that Nash is still producing great numbers consistently and would be a safer bet at greatness next year. Fact is, the Knicks didn’t get Nash, they got Jason Kidd and Raymond Felton. Remember the Hollinger PER stat discussed in previous entries? Jeremy ended the season at 19.97, Raymond Felton at 13.46, and Jason Kidd at 13.11, while the league average is fixed at 15.0. Disregarding Jeremy’s numbers for a moment, his two replacements are both BELOW AVERAGE. The argument will then shift to Jeremy’s “inflated” number since he only played 35 games. In 35 games though, Jeremy’s added value of 125.8, which only accumulates through games played, is more than the added values of Felton  (70.1) and Kidd (43.4) COMBINED playing 108 games. For reference, Nash’s added value is 271.9 over 62 games, but again, the Knicks didn’t get Nash. In a good scenario, Jeremy improves as he should, since he’s young, has limited experience, and point guards tend to peak much later in their career. In a bad scenario, Jeremy regresses to league average… which is still better than Felton and Kidd. The last argument will be about turnovers… let’s just say that the four players mentioned in this section had turnover ratio rankings of 10, 11, 13, and 20 in the league this past season (#1 ranking = the most frequent turnovers). If reducing turnovers was the Knicks top priority, it hasn’t been solved by switching between any of these guys. Add it all together, it wasn’t about the basketball.

The Ego

So if a player is bringing in more money and wins, the only real factor left is whether they like him or not. Despite being wildly popular amongst fans and publicly socializing with teammates, somebody in the Knicks organization clearly doesn’t like Jeremy. The two main suspects are the owner, James Dolan, and Carmelo Anthony.

Despite being encouraged to explore his free agency options, Dolan has been reported to have felt betrayed by Jeremy working with the Rockets. This could have been easily solved (or at least made clear) if the Knicks had made the first move and made Jeremy’s resigning their first priority. Instead, they signed Jason Kidd, Steve Novak, Marcus Camby, J.R. Smith, and Pablo Prigioni before Jeremy even got an offer from the Rockets. Regardless of Jeremy’s allegiance, any decent agent would have gone ahead and secured the best offers possible for their client, just to give them options. In Jeremy’s case in particular, a man who’s danced with unemployment numerous times over the past two years should try to secure as many offers as possible for good reason.

As for Carmelo Anthony, who openly called Jeremy’s contract “ridiculous”, might as well have joined other haters in shouting “overrated”. Every player wants to both win and have the spotlight, but for an all-star that has the worst playoff record in the past 20 years, the spotlight might be the only thing that’s left and Linsanity was about to steal it away on a long-term basis. Maybe the number of fans who taped over the “1” on Anthony’s #17 jerseys to mimic the #7 of Jeremy’s started to get to him.

Perhaps other egos were at play behind the scenes. Coach Mike Woodson has long been an advocate of veterans over rookies, but had been unflinchingly supportive of Jeremy in the past month. Maybe General Manager Glen Grunwald wasn’t a fan of Jeremy either for one reason or another. Ultimately, when Jeremy has the financials, stats, and fans on his side, there had to have been somebody with influence and authority to have said “I don’t like him”. You can’t be the king of New York when Jeremy Lin is more popular than you.

Discussion on the forums

ESPY Awards 2012 Best Breakthrough Athlete

Jeremy beats out Alex Morgan (USA Soccer), Robert Griffin III (Baylor), Anthony Davis (Kentucky), and Rob Gronkowski (New England Patriots) for the ESPY Award 2012 Best Breakthrough Athlete.

Announcement video:

Forum Discussion Thread and Additional Photos and Videos

Linsanity Trademark Won By Jeremy

The “Linsanity” trademark that Jeremy and his agent has applied and contested for back on February 13th has been officially granted to him by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on May 26th, after first rejecting the applications of all parties unrelated to Jeremy himself. Jeremy’s lawyers scared off about half of the applicants with cease-and-desist letters, but nearly a dozen apparently persisted until the official decision by the PTO.

Pamela M. Deese, a partner in the law firm Arent Fox LLP who is working on behalf of Jeremy, mentioned that “It’s not only Linsanity, but all Lin-related trademarks. We’re delighted… This is the right result.”

Forum Discussion Thread

Jeremy Lin added to All-Star Weekend Rising Stars Challenge

*Updated*
Jeremy will be a part of All-Star weekend
 in multiple ways, with his recent inclusion into the Rising Stars Challenge (Rookie-Sophomore game), as a helper to Iman Shumpert for the dunk contest, and possibly as part of the Shooting Stars competition.

“The New York Knicks point guard was added Thursday to the roster of players for the Feb. 24 game at All-Star Weekend in Orlando, just before Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley began drafting for their teams.

Sources with knowledge of the league’s plans told ESPN.com that Knicks rookie Iman Shumpert — one of four dunk-contest entrants — will be enlisting Lin to “assist” him in a manner similar to the help 2011 champion Blake Griffin got from then-Los Angeles Clippers teammate Baron Davis.

A league source Thursday confirmed a New York Daily News report that the NBA will make Lin part of the field for the Haier Shooting Stars competition during All-Star Saturday night. That would enable Lin to join Shumpert’s dunk routine as well.

Player of the Week

NBA.com: Jeremy Lin named Player of the Week for Eastern Conference

NEW YORK – The New York Knicks’ Jeremy Lin and the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Russell Westbrook today were named the Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week, respectively, for games played Monday, Feb. 6, through Sunday, Feb. 12.

Lin led the Knicks to a 4-0 week, averaging 27.3 points, 8.3 assists and 2.0 steals. His 109 points over his first four career starts are the most by any player since 1976-77, and he became the first player in NBA history to tally at least 20 points and seven assists in each of his first four starts. Lin scored a career-high 38 points on Feb. 10, in a 92-85 win over the Lakers.

Just a bit of official recognition from the league, nothing surprising to anybody that’s been following Jeremy Lin Mania.