Why It's Time to Pump the Brakes on Criticizing Jeremy Lin

Ethan Sherwood Strauss@SherwoodStraussNBA Lead WriterNovember 27, 2012

HOUSTON, TX - NOVEMBER 23:  Jeremy Lin #7 of the Houston Rockets drives past Carmelo Anthony #7 of the New York Knicks at the Toyota Center on November 23, 2012 in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, bagainst the Newy downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
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There's an odd phenomenon with Jeremy Lin where many people want to see him fail. I can't tell you how often I peruse my Twitter feed, only to find someone exclaiming that they knew he couldn't play all along.

The backlash is Lin's unearned burden. He didn't ask for the month of "Linsanity!" and he didn't leave New York in an unprofessional manner. But some way, somehow, the guy became the focus of a lot of jealous resentment. 

People don't like to look foolish, and Jeremy Lin's success would make this happen. The teams that passed on him, the draftniks who dismissed him, the Knicks fans who became convinced that they didn't need him, all of these groups are looking for a reason to say, "Ah-ha! I told you he wasn't any good!" 

@sherwoodstrauss I think you can divide them up into groups. The scouts/media who don't want to proven wrong about him. And there's the fans

— Daniel M (@NewYorkDanm) November 27, 2012

These various groups are cheering the current Lin state of things. Jeremy's shooting terribly, .348 from the field by last measure. The anti-Lin pundits and fans are cheering that which they "always" knew. Jeremy's a fraud, a farce, a flash in the plan. 

Those people might want to hold up, as the Jeremy Lin story could take another turn. From HoopData, via a Joe Kaiser ESPN piece.   

"Last season, Lin ranked in the NBA's top seven among point guards in field goal percentage from 10 to 15 feet and 16 to 23 feet. He was more accurate from these distances than many household names, such as Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Tony Parker, Derrick Rose, and Russell Westbrook. He demonstrated a jump shot that deserved to be respected, and teams adjusted accordingly.

Kaiser's piece goes on to add:

"Through the Rockets' first 12 games this season, Lin is shooting 16.7 percent from shots in the 10- to 15-foot range, and 29.4 percent on attempts from the 16- to 23-foot range. Those numbers are, to put it mildly, not good."

While Lin's decline in shooting is concerning, I would point out that the other elements of his game are in place. Despite the woeful shooting slump, Jeremy is averaging 7.2 assists per 40 minutes while sharing distribution duties with James Harden. His 7.6 rebound rate is also tops in his career so far.

Now, to say, "He just needs to shoot better," is a bit simplistic, as shooting is a huge aspect of basketball. But Lin's numbers are so radically different from last year's production, that they almost have to swing back in the other direction. 

Right now, at a .348 shooting percentage, Jeremy Lin is not a helpful player for Houston. But if he can just manage to get that shooting mark somewhere north of 40 percent, his ability to pass and rebound should carry the day.

It would also help if Jeremy Lin accepted the Houston Rocket offensive model and stopped taking so many long two-point shots. He's getting to the rim enough, averaging nearly half his attempts from that area (via HoopData). 

His shooting percentage is mainly getting dragged down on account of long two pointers and an errant three-point shot. He probably can't avoid all outside shots, but cutting back should be a consideration. 

Also, from my subjective assessment, Lin takes far too many jumpers off the dribble. It's far easier for a shooter—especially a shaky shooter—to hit jumpers off the catch. By taking off-balance attempts off the dribble, Lin is making a shooting slump even worse.

Should Lin's shooting woes concern his fans? Of course. Can Jeremy Lin bounce back? Yes he can. The rest of Lin's game is waiting for the shooting to catch up. Fortunately, shooting is something that players tend to improve on over a career. It would not be shocking to see Lin follow in that tradition.