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?

Linsanity When it Counts

Blog post on ESPN that looks at Jeremy’s stats during the final minutes of a game. Not only is he relying on himself to take more shots and control the fate of the final few minutes, but he’s also shooting better than ever then:

Ever since he waved off a coach, a teammate and a playcall before hitting the biggest bucket of his life — that game-winning 3 in isolation in Toronto — it has struck me that in terms of crunch-time temperament, Lin is as much like [Kobe] Bryant as anyone…

Just to test the idea that Lin and Bryant are similarly ball dominant in crunch time, I fired up NBA.com’s fancy secret new stats tool, and found Lin does like to have the ball in his hands in crunch time, almost as much as Bryant, who is an all-timer in that regard.

In the final five minutes of games within five points, Bryant’s usage rate is a high 42.4. Lin’s is close behind, at 36.6 — higher than, say, Chris Paul’s 33.9, and in the same range as Kevin Durant (40.1) and Carmelo Anthony (43.5). You might say that’s heady stuff for a player whose coach keeps reminding people is effectively a rookie.

But also worth noting is that in these short minutes — Lin has played just 39 that qualify — he has had the best true shooting percentage of the bunch. He has taken 24 shots in 39 crunch time minutes, and hit only nine of them. The secret to his efficiency has been that he has made three of his five 3-pointers, while getting to the line an impressive 18 times, while missing just two. The result is a true shooting percentage (a measure that accounts for 3s and free throws) of 58, compared to Paul’s 57.2, Durant’s 53.8, Anthony’s 43.5 and Bryant’s 42.7.

Forum Discussion Thread

Clutch

Down by as much as 15 points at multiple points throughout the game, the Knicks had a comeback victory by taking the lead through a clutch 3-pointer by Jeremy in the final half second of the game against the Raptors. In the final two minutes of the game, the Knicks were down by 5, but quickly converted on a steal and dunk by Iman Shumpert, followed by an and-1 layup to tie the game by Jeremy, capped by his game winning 3-pointer. The Raptors were better than the Knicks in FG% (50.7% vs. 41.3%), rebounds (40 vs. 34), and blocks (11 vs. 2), but the Knicks were relentless on defense in the 4th quarter and clawed their way back for the win.

Jeremy finishes the game with his second double-double, scoring 27 points and dishing out 11 assists.

Game Discussion on the Forums