Days from being released by the New York Knicks, young point guard Jeremy Lin was given what appeared to be his last chance in the National Basketball Association. By now, most everyone has learned (and forgotten) the story of Jeremy Lin. How he was sleeping on the couch. How he didn’t have a car to drive. How he brought the visiting crowd to their feet in Toronto with a game-winning three just before the buzzer. Linsanity started, and ended, in a flash.
Following a small bout with injuries and a tumultuous season for the Knicks as a whole, Jeremy Lin entered free agency where he signed a rather large contract with the Houston Rockets. After two years in Houston, he was shipped off to play for the Lakers. Now after just one season with the Lakers his Linsane contract was up and he entered free agency as a player not relying on hype, but his actual skill.
Playing with the likes of a superstar everywhere he has gone, Lin’s actual effect on the court has often been overshadowed by what has gone around him. In New York, he had a hot few weeks, but was just as much at the center of attention for what would happen when Carmelo Anthony came back. The next two years he was behind the rising superstar James Harden, and things only got worse when Dwight Howard came into the picture. This last season, the Lakers have been highlighted by Kobe Bryant, the attitude of friend Nick Young, and the overall future of the franchise. What people fail to see is what Jeremy Lin has accomplished over these last three and a half years when he has essentially been behind the scenes.
- Lin has improved his 3PT% every season since 2012-13
- His scoring per 100 possessions has increased in each of the past three years
- Defensive rating has improved per 100 possessions each of the past three years
- His PER is comparable to those of Khris Middleton, Victor Oladipo, Wes Matthews, Manu Ginobili, and Paul Pierce.
Adding weight and coming off a season where it seemed Byron Scott did everything possible to make his life difficult, Lin had career highs (for 100 possessions) in scoring, blocks, 3PT%, and rebounds (also nearing his career high for steals and assists in games). The fact of the matter is that Jeremy Lin is not worth the 8-9 million he received from that Houston contract, but he is a more than capable NBA point guard. In fact, he is closer to a starting role than many would think. All in all, Jeremy Lin has not been in a situation where he was able to succeed. He was playing for his life in New York and that mentality simply does not last. It is too hectic, too unreliable. He was forced to draw it back in Houston so that James Harden would be able to shoot 17 times a game. Add in the touches that Dwight Howard would command and Lin was left in no-man’s land. Moving to Los Angeles, Kobe was going to demand the ball. Once Kobe went down, they had already lost Julius Randle, the team really had nowhere to turn. As young point guard Jordan Clarkson looked to take over the team, Lin moved from 31 minutes per game to just 23. All the while Clarkson moved up to average 36 minutes per game, despite having worse numbers (per 100 possessions) than Lin in assists, steals, blocks, and 3PT%. Regardless of the season, it was clear that Lin would not be back the next season.
Now, Jeremy Lin has agreed to a two-year deal with the Charlotte Hornets. Lin spoke out on Facebook about how he feels the Hornets are not only going to give him an
opportunity, but believe he can succeed. To me, Lin is still being under-valued, but his ability to come in off the bench when Kemba Walker needs a break, and fill in as the starter when Walker misses 15-20 games will be a huge addition to the Hornets. An organization that has remained stagnant for the past few years does not need a superstar to move this team forward, rather a concentrated effort from a number of strong role players. Jeremy Lin is not a superstar. Jeremy Lin is however, a player that needs to be watched as next season comes around.
Images from USA Today, Lin’s Instagram Account, and Hoopshabitat.com