Jeremy Lin vs. Patrick Beverley: Which Houston Rockets Guard Is Better by NBA Stats, Intangibles, Fan Appeal
Jeremy Lin might be heading into training camp as the primary ball handler for the Houston Rockets, but the presence of Patrick Beverley is a clear reminder that he has competition for starting point guard.
Entering his fourth season in the league, Lin is facing enormous pressure next season following the Rockets' acquisition of free agent center Dwight Howard.
Lin, who signed a three-year, $25 million deal with the Rockets last summer, averaged 13.4 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 6.1 assists in 82 games last season. However, the Rockets point guard's production took a dramatic nosedive in the postseason, as a chest injury and inconsistent plays limited him to just 4.0 points, 2.0 rebounds, and 2.0 assists in his first playoff series.
Lin's struggles opened the door for Beverley to step up, which he did tremendously in the remainder of the series against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Beverley, who starred for Arkansas before he was drafted 42nd overall in 2009, produced 11.8 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 2.8 assists in the series and showed his poise against All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook on both ends of the floor.
Beverley was such a dominating presence last season he even became a target of death threats after accidentally bumping Westbrook's knee, which forced the Thunder guard to miss the rest of the playoffs with a torn right meniscus. The Rockets eventually lost to the Thunder in six games, but the series also delivered a message to Lin that his role as the team's starting point guard is far from safe.
In the upcoming training camp, Lin and Beverley will be pitted against each other as both guards try to make an impression on Rockets head coach Kevin McHale.
It will be Lin's court-vision against Beverley's athleticism and ruggedness. Lin is obviously a better passer, but the inconsistency in his jump shots, and questions on his ability to hold his ground against athletic guards, especially on the defensive end, are problems he needs to solve along the way. On the other hand, Beverley proves to be a solid rebounder at 6-foot-1-inches, and has the body to mix it up with larger, faster guards. The big challenge for him going forward is his capacity to facilitate the basketball, given that he won't get as many shots as he had in the postseason. Howard and James Harden are going to be the Rockets' main scorers next season, and it is the point guard's job to find them in their comfort zone.
As for fan appeal, Lin has easily established a huge fanbase in only his first year in Houston, helped in large part because of the point guard's rise to fame in New York and Houston's large Asian community. Moreover, the Rockets' affiliation with Yao Ming also made Lin a sensation in China, which is crucial to the team's marketing strategy outside the United States. Meanwhile, Beverley still has a lot of proving left to do for him to get the admiration of Rockets fans, but next season is a great opportunity for him to make a name for himself in Houston.
In the end, the Rockets point guard rotation looks pretty good with Lin and Beverley sharing playing time in the backcourt. Veteran point guard Aaron Brooks is another guard that could fill the role anytime, giving the Rockets perhaps the deepest position in their roster.