Jeremy Lin burst onto the scene with the New York Knicks last season, in what was dubbed “Linsanity.”
The point guard came out of nowhere to become a Knicks starter. He helped to lead them from a losing record to the playoffs.
Lin was more than an adequate player for New York. Before his season-ending injury, he had some of the most impressive individual performances of last season, most notably his 38-point game against the Los Angeles Lakers. He played like an All-Star for much of his time on the court, and Knicks fans were irate when the organization let him go.
In the 2012-2013 season, however, Lin has been nothing more than an average point guard.
Through his first 21 games with the Houston Rockets, Lin has struggled to return to the form that made him a star in New York. He’s averaging 11.3 points, 6.1 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game. Along with his 40 percent field goal shooting, Lin ranks 18th in efficiency rating among all point guards.
After Lin became the biggest story of the sports world in the early part of 2012, it only made sense that his production would slip, somewhat. Still, he showed that he could play like a top 10 point guard, and was paid to do so in Houston.
The early season struggles of Lin might be explained by his new teammates.
The Rockets traded for James Harden from the Oklahoma City Thunder, right before the season began. He’s become Houston’s No.1 target on offense, averaging 25 points per game.
According to Ric Bucher, NBA analytics suggest that Harden and Lin are not a “good fit.” The guards make up the starting backcourt for the Rockets, but both players perform much better when the other one is on the bench.
Lin has shown that he has the ability to play like an upper echelon point guard when the offense runs through him. His greatest success with the Knicks came when both Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire were out with injuries. Lin proved the same thing when Harden recently went down with an injury.
On Monday night, the San Antonio Spurs, the team with the league’s best record, needed overtime to beat Houston. The Rockets came dangerously close to pulling off the upset without Harden on the floor. He missed the game with a sprained right ankle, and Lin stepped up to be the Rockets top option. He scored 38 points on 11 of 21 shooting, and dished out seven assists in the loss.
Immediately after Lin’s breakout game, he scored just 10 points in Harden’s return.
Lin’s struggles in Houston have caused some people to call his run last year a “fluke.” Perhaps, Lin’s play this season is the aberration, and he could be an All-Star if put in the right situation.
The Rockets still have the final three quarters of the 2012-2013 season to see if a backcourt of Lin and Harden can be a winning combination, but they may be finding out that the two just don’t work well together.