NBA sensation Jeremy Lin, attending a news conference August in downtown Taipei, could be the next Steve Nash, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban told CBS this week. (Photo : Reuters)
The owner of the former NBA world champion Dallas Mavericks thinks that Jeremy Lin is the next Steve Nash. Or at least, that he could be.
It's a pretty bold statement, considering that Lin--the Houston Rockets' pricey new point guard--has been floundering this preseason, but Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has given his seal of approval to the Asian-American point guard that became a global phenomenon last February--"Linsanity," the media and NBA fans dubbed it-- with a sensational offensive style that saved the struggling New York Knicks' season.
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In an interview on Wednesday with CBS This Morning hosts Charlie Rose and Gayle King, Cuban, the $2.3 billionaire owner of the Mavericks and Landmark Theaters, gave his thoughts on Lin, the Dallas Morning News reported .
"The Mavs were the first team to sign him as a free agent, and we loved him," he told Rose Wednesday. "He's a kid that was fearless. He was obviously smart having got into Harvard. He was a lot more athletic than people expected. We really looked at him as a potential as another Steve Nash."
According to Cuban, he wanted to sign Lin for summer league with Dallas in 2010, but the Palo Alto, Calif., native wanted to go play close to home, prompting him sign with the Golden State Warriors.
As hoops fans remember, Lin signed a two-year deal with the Warriors, but was later waived by both Golden State and later Houston, before being claimed off waivers by the Knicks in December 2011.
Everyone knows what happened next.
When asked by Cuban if Lin could be "another Steve Nash," the billionaire owner replied without hesitation, "Yeah. Absolutely, he can."
"He's that good. He's got that type of talent," Cuban added. "But, part of what made Steve Nash great, when Nash went from the Mavericks to the Suns and became MVP, it was a system that he just excelled at. So, Jeremy has got to play in the right environment with the right players and he can be a star."
Video of the Cuban CBS interview can be seen here:
It's a pretty high bar to set for anyone to be compared to the Lakers' new point guard Nash, a likely future Hall of Famer with two league Most Valuable Player awards in 2005 and 2006 on his resume.
But Cuban certainly has the background to make that judgement. After Cuban bought a majority share of the Mavericks in 2000, the controversial owner turned the Mavericks around from a laughingstock into a basketball powerhouse--landing stars such as Jason Kidd, Tyson Chandler and Dirk Nowitzki--that appeared in two NBA Finals, including 2006, capped with the franchise winning its first NBA Championship against the Miami Heat in 2011.
But Lin has struggled in his six preseason games with only 6.3 points per game, 6.0 assists and 2.3 steals, and at times seems to have struggled to find his shot after coming off knee surgery in the offseason.
Lin did score 13 points in Friday's 108-92 Rockets victory over the Orlando Magic to end the preseason. But in order for a young, inexperienced Rockets team with very few stars to have any hope of reaching the postseason this year, Lin must recapture some of that explosive spark in his step that drove him while he was averaging over 22 points and 8 assists during the Linsanity run last year for the Knicks.
Whether or not he can do that will be a tough order, given that Lin's not-so-secret arsenal is now quite public and defenses are well aware of his talents, but if he can, Houston might be a dark horse emerging late season to steal a playoff seed in the always-tough Western Conference.
That, in itself, will be a feat, considering the low ranking that Sports Illustrated's NBA Preview has given the Rockets, at No. 14.
"No way they sniff the playoffs. You have to blow this team up in six months," a rival scout writes of the Rockets' playoff chances, while adding that Lin, while having good size and being a decent closer, was not quick, lacked ball-handling skills and "didn't show me he was very good at running a team."
But then again, if Lin does exceed expectations again this season, it wouldn't be the first time that this undrafted kid from Harvard proved doubters wrong.