What would Lin mean to the Rockets?
The impact surely extends off the court with marketing and ticket sales. But Lin’s on-the-court impact can’t be denied. First, consider what’s currently on Houston’s roster.
With Goran Dragic, Kyle Lowry and Samuel Dalembert all departing, the Rockets will be without their top three players in PER (player efficiency rating) from last season. That leaves Kevin Martin as the top returning player. He finished 94th in the NBA in PER last season, right behind Mike Dunleavy Jr.
If he winds up in Houston, Lin catapults to the top of their point guard depth chart, a spot currently occupied by former teammate Toney Douglas.
Houston received strong production for the point guard position in 2011-12. The now-departed point guards combined to average 16.8 ppg and 7.7 apg last season, both in the top seven in the NBA. However, there’s reason to believe Lin would still be an improvement. His 19.6 points per 36 minutes and 8.3 assists per 36 minutes were better than both Lowry and Dragic.
Notable Point Guards
Per 36 Minutes Last Season
Lin’s starting stretch for the Knicks provides a hint of his potential production. From February 6 to March 24 (the period one might call “Linsanity”), he averaged 18.2 ppg and 7.7 apg. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the only NBA player who matched him in both total points and assists over that period was Chris Paul.
Isolations are where Lin excels. He scored the 3rd-most points-per-play of the 91 players with at least 75 isolation plays last season. Only Chris Paul and James Harden were more effective in isolation.
Given the wholesale roster changes, it’s difficult to project Houston’s offensive style. But last season, the Rockets had one of the better transition offenses in the league. They shot 58.7 percent in transition (9th in the NBA) and averaged 1.16 points per play (8th in the NBA).
Jeremy Lin Transition Offense
Lin struggled in transition last year. Out of 130 players with at least 75 plays in transition. he ranked 129 in turnover percentage and tied for 197th in points per play.
Lin’s biggest impact could be close to the basket. Houston ranked 24th in the NBA with only 41 of its made field goals coming from within five feet of the basket.
While Lin was on the court last season, 57 percent of the Knicks' made field goals came from within five feet of the basket.