Linsanity Anniversary – Past, Present, and Future

A little over a year ago, this website was started as a dedication to Jeremy Lin and the Linsanity that he brought to the NBA. While the media hype and shock value of Jeremy’s game is a thing of the past (exacerbated by being in New York), the essence of Linsanity perseveres every time Jeremy steps onto the court and plays his style of basketball. Some sports analysts would argue that Linsanity is long gone simply by comparing statistics of then and now, but it was never about the numbers. Many all-stars past and present have put up better statistical streaks than Jeremy did during his breakout period, but what made Linsanity unique was it was a first glimpse at leadership and inspiration in what was supposed to be a hopeless situation.

On the day Jeremy had his breakout game against the Nets on February 4th, 2012, the Knicks had an 8-15 record, losing 11 of their last 13 games. All three of the point guards ahead of Jeremy on the Knicks roster were considered hopeless and even Coach D’antoni would show his frustration by subbing in an inexperienced player in the 1st quarter and letting him take over the team. While game winning shots and fancy passes would grace the highlight reel, it was his intangible ability to lead a makeshift team (while the stars were injured) to wins that would ultimately define Linsanity. Not only did he forge his own future, but redefined it for lesser known names like Landry Fields, Jared Jefferies, and Steve Novak. While Jeremy clearly over-performed as an individual, his presence made the entire team over-perform during that time.

What about now with the Rockets? Before the season began, the Rockets were considered one of the worst teams in the NBA, but somewhat forgiven since they were young and in a rebuilding phase. Even with the acquisition of James Harden, expectations were low since most of the Thunder’s success has been attributed to Durant and Westbrook, and a single young star rarely makes a successful team. Over half the season is over and the Rockets are well into a playoff push despite being the youngest team in the league, cheapest team in the league, and the head coach missing significant amounts of time due to personal issues. Harden has over-performed, Asik has over-performed, Parsons has over-performed, Patterson has over-performed, and even Toney Douglas has over-performed compared to the previous year and overall expectations. As for Jeremy, if you net his steals against his turnovers, he is currently 12th in the league in terms of Assists to Turnovers, which has largely been critiqued as his biggest weakness as a point guard. Jeremy may not be the #1 offensive option anymore, which leads to decreased numbers, but as the starting point guard, he’s currently leading the fastest and one of the most efficient offenses in the league, which has over-performed all expectations. Isn’t this the very essence of Linsanity?

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?

Rockets Early Numbers

15 games so far and a 7-8 record. Not bad for a team that is:

- The lowest paid roster in the entire league by far. At $48M, the Rockets are paid roughly 20% less than the second cheapest roster (the Phoenix Suns) and less than 50% of the most expensive (the LA Lakers).
- The youngest roster in the entire league. The oldest members of the team are Carlos Delfino (30), Toney Douglas (26), and Omer Asik (26).
- The least experienced roster in the entire league. Kobe Bryant has more NBA minutes than the entire Rockets team combined.
- Without their head coach for the past 11 games (RIP Alexandra “Shasha” McHale).

What was expected to be a very rough rebuilding season has turned into a potential playoff run (whether that’s good or not in the long term). Currently ranked 11th and 17th respectively by the Hollinger and Stein Power Rankings on ESPN, the Rockets have shown to be outperforming their record. In a comparison to other 30 teams, the Rockets actually run the fastest and 10th most effective offense in the league.

PACE AST TO REBR EFF FG% TS% OFF EFF DEF EFF
1st 17th 24th 8th 10th 9th 10th 20th

Individually, the Rockets have a wide breadth of skills that may not shine individually, but thus far balance out the team as a whole.

PLAYER GP MPG TS% AST TO USG REBR PER
Greg Smith 10 11.8 0.637 15.7 5.9 15.0 16.9 21.61
James Harden 15 38.8 0.574 17.2 13.1 27.1 6.0 20.90
Patrick Patterson 14 29.7 0.560 6.8 7.3 18.4 9.7 16.72
Chandler Parsons 14 38.1 0.596 18.6 11.4 16.8 10.2 15.98
Marcus Morris 15 21.4 0.552 7.5 6.8 16.8 11.2 15.46
Omer Asik 15 32.7 0.508 8.1 20.6 16.7 20.9 13.50
Jeremy Lin 15 34.4 0.456 31.2 14.2 18.5 7.2 12.64
Cole Aldrich 8 8.6 0.538 7.6 7.6 14.2 13.6 12.43
Daequan Cook 8 13.9 0.490 14.8 5.6 16.9 6.5 12.18
Carlos Delfino 8 23.6 0.467 15.9 10.6 17.6 9.0 10.59
Toney Douglas 14 15.6 0.455 19.0 16.7 20.3 4.3 7.70

Individual accolades for the starters:

Omer Asik – 3rd in the league for rebounds
James Harden – 5th in scoring, 15th in steals, 25th in assists
Jeremy Lin – 7th in steals and 14th in assists
Chandler Parsons – Top 50 in scoring, FG%, rebounds, and assists
Patrick Patterson – 19th in FG%

A very encouraging start for a team that should improve through experience and additions over the season(s).

Early Number Crunch

Jeremy has played 8 games into the season as a Houston Rocket, so we have some real world data to look at to where his game is going this season.

Here is a raw snapshot of his current Player Efficiency Rating (PER) numbers after 8 games:

PLAYER

MPG

TS%

AST

TO

REBR

USG

PER

Jeremy Lin

34.5

0.462

30

12.3

7.2

18.7

14.56

Keep in mind that the PER stat is normalized so that the league average is 15, which unfortunately, means that Jeremy is currently slightly below that (151 overall rank among all qualified players).

Interpreting these stats against all other point guards leads to the following:

  • 38th overall in PER
  • 49th in True Shooting Percentage
  • 26th in Assist Ratio
  • 27th in Turnover Ratio (lower the better)
  • 18th in Rebound Rate
  • 45th in Usage Rate

The positives are the rebound rate, the vast improvement in turnover ratio, and unlisted is the fact that Jeremy is currently tied for 3rd in the league for steals (2.5) per game. Usage rate is primarily due to the strength of James Harden handling the ball periodically and coordinating plays, which can be a good thing for the team, but often leaves Jeremy out of it.

The real problem is Jeremy’s shooting this season, as it’s the lowest of all the Rockets starters and is really starting to affect the outcome of games. At the end of last season, Jeremy’s TS% was around 55.2%, significantly higher than the current 46.2%. Not only is his shooting percentage getting lower, but the number of shot attempts seems to be lowering as well over the past few games. Jeremy started the first 3 games averaging 14 FG attempts, while the later 5 games dropped to 9 FG attempts. Those watching the games may realize that part of this is from the relatively fewer number of foul calls the referees are giving out this year for drives to the basket, which may be discouraging Jeremy from getting to the rim and settling for the outside shots he’s less adept at.

Still a lot of basketball to look forward to and realistically, the Rockets agenda is much more long term with such a young team, but Jeremy needs to keep working at it to solidify his role as the primary ball handler and 2nd/3rd option for scoring.

Full statistics per game in forums

The Preseason

First game of the preseason began against the Western Conference Champions, the Oklahoma City Thunder. Jeremy played for 20 minutes, attempting the least number of shots among the Rockets starters (1-3), but contributed primarily through 6 assists and 3 steals. Rockets bench would eventually take over and win the game 107-105.

Highlights:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0cVAXH_Y87U

Discussion thread on the forums