NBA: Will Houston Rockets' Jeremy Lin's Resurgence Be Stopped With Return of James Harden and Chandler Parsons?
After sitting out two games with a sore right foot, All-Star James Harden is back.
That's good news for Houston Rockets fans as the team looks to make one last push for the No.6 seed owned by the Golden State Warriors for the NBA Playoffs as the season wraps up in two weeks. Harden was in practice on Wednesday and returned for a Wednesday night game against the Sacramento Kings, the Houston Chronicle reported.
But what does this news mean for Jeremy Lin?
About midway through what was Lin's best month as a Houston Rocket, where he averaged 16.8 points, 5.4 assists and more than 30 minutes a night in the first nine games of the month for Houston, Rockets coach Kevin McHale reduced his minutes over a course of four games.
During that time, Lin saw his numbers drop on offense and his shooting fluctuate between good and bad through that stretch. And that trend didn't show like it had any signs of stopping until injury struck Harden's foot, forcing him to sit on the sidelines for two games. A case of food poisoning that put Chandler Parsons, the Rockets' second leading scorer, out of action, left McHale with no other alternative but to go to Lin.
And Lin appears to have risen to the occasion, scoring 15 points against the Clippers in a Houston win on Saturday and 19 points to lead the Rockets to a 111-103 win over Orlando on Monday. In both games, Lin played at least 30 minutes with 10 or more possessions, averaging 17 points for those combined games.
But that was without Harden. With the re-insertion of the dynamic, bearded superstar into the Rockets' offense, and the return of Chandler, as well, the game changes drastically. It's Harden's team and all roads on offense go through him.
Lin, meanwhile, has shown that he could thrive in the first nine games of March and having shown that he could rise to the occasion on offense. But now with Harden coming back, the questions inevitably have to come to mind: what exactly will Lin's roles be?
Will he continue to play regular minutes as he has for the last two games? Will McHale go back to cutting Lin's minutes down in favor of backup point guard Patrick Beverley? Can Lin still find a way to get his shots and thrive with Harden as they have for certain stretches of the season? Or will he struggle as he re-adapts to his previous role of playing off the ball with limited possessions?
Lin has shown the capacity to play well with Harden on the floor, as his nine-game stretch in March and his run in late December showed. However, he has also gone through his struggles in a statistically rollercoaster-like season as his role has changed from offensive focal point in New York to another cog in the machine.
He has been learning to make an impact in other ways such as hustle plays and keeping Houston in their offensive sets--essentially, being the mechanic for the engine of Houston's high-octane offense as the point guard and floor general for Houston. However, with Lin starting to show that he can count for solid production on offense, it can be conceived that Houston is sitting on a third offensive option heading into the playoffs that they aren't using effectively as of late.
It will be interesting to see whether Lin's recent play will mean he gets to get a few more shots with Harden and Parsons back. Having their Big Three back in the lineup will mean big things for the Rockets down the stretch. What it will all mean for Lin, however, remains to be seen.