It’s hard being both a sports fan while not being a Jeremy Lin fan. As sports lovers, whether it be basketball, football, tennis, whatever, we cheer on the underdog. The guy no one saw coming, one who was given an opportunity many questioned, and killed it. Last year Lin personified the underdog story, and how monumental it can be. That’s old news though, so I won’t go over it again. This season, Lin has shared the reigns of a youthful but talented Houston Rockets squad with Playoff aspirations alongside superstar James Harden. He’s done a decent job of it, but certain issues from last season are reoccurring, more specifically one that ended ‘Linsanity’ about a year ago.
Lin is averaging 13 points, 3.2 rebounds, 6.1 assists, 2.9 turnovers in 32.5 minutes per contest. His shooting percentages are shaky, 44.2% from the field, 33.3% from range and 78.3% from the line. This equates to just the 29th best True-Shooting percentage (shooting percentage adjusting for the value of free throws and 3-pointers) for qualified point guards in the league. In that same category, his PER of 15.07 is only good for 34th best, and his TO% (percentage of possessions ending in a turnover) ranks him 65th best.
As pedestrian as those numbers are, the majority of Lin’s season has still been affected by a partially torn meniscus which he needed surgery for last April. Meniscus tears can happen in one of two ways, either on a single event or over an amount of time. Considering Lin’s former squad, the New York Knicks, never pinpointed what play produced the tear, it’s safe to assume wear-and-tear was the cause. Lin went from rarely-played benchwarmer to starting point guard after all, playing 34 minutes a night since his initial breakout game against the New Jersey Nets. From that game on through the end of the month, Lin played 37 minutes a game before his minutes declined with the firing of Mike D’Antoni and signing of point guard Baron Davis.
Lin’s TS% last season as a starter was 55.1%, however when playing a game after 0 days of rest that percentage dropped to 51.2%. His AST% (percentage of possessions ending in an assist) also took a dip, from 37.5% to 33.2% when playing without a night off. This season, Lin is still struggling in games played without rest. In 18 games his 53.7% TS% plummets to 46.7% when playing in the second game of a back-to-back. His AST% also suffers a decrease, from 28.6% to 27.4%. Meanwhile his TO% rises from 13.6% to 16.1%, showcasing how sloppy Lin is without a night off.
Luckily, he won’t have to play any back-to-backs come Playoffs time, but these struggles could be a red light. Not saying another injury is on it’s way, but with the Rockets having to play another 15 games in a tight Western Conference Playoffs race and Jeremy Lin’s minutes per night not decreasing noticeably since the opening month of the season, the grueling length of this NBA season could eventually catch up with Lin.
On top of all of this, Jeremy Lin hasn’t had any viable backup option either, with the Rockets other point guards this season being Toney Douglas and Patrick Beverley. Douglas shot less than 40% from the field with Houston, and was traded the day before the trade deadline to Sacramento. In his place was left Beverley, who’s playing his first season in the NBA after playing in Ukraine, Greece, and Russia following his being drafted in the second round of the 2009 NBA Draft. He performed no better than Douglas, and has been recently demoted to the third string on the team with Houston signing Aaron Brooks. Brooks is actually a very solid point guard, who should take some of the load off of Lin’s back.
Although it hasn’t yet, Jeremy Lin’s past and current bouts with fatigue is certainly something to keep in mind as Lin enters his first Playoffs series in his career a month from now.