The climb to playoff contender is a long one for Jeremy Lin and the Houston Rockets. That doesn't mean it is impossible though. How can the two sides work together to reach that goal of an NBA championship?
Lin focused on correcting the mistakes he made with New York Knicks
Any pro will say that the best way for a player to improve is hard work. Lin has never lacked that. It was work that turned him into the best basketball player to come out of the Ivy Leagues in decades and that same effort turned him into the overnight sensation known as Linsanity. Still even the best players have holes in their game. The difference between the good and great ones is how hard they work to correct those problems. Looking at the game of Lin one sees many pluses and minuses. No one doubts he can score, especially in a half court offense that features the pick-and-roll. The bigger issue for Houston coaches is helping the young point guard work on his transition game. Part of what makes good teams is an ability to score on the fast break. The world champions Miami Heat were the best at it last season. One thing Lin struggled with as a member of the New York Knicks was avoiding turnovers in transition. He ranked near the top in turnovers per transition at 26%. Another issue is his questionable defense. Whenever Lin faced an athletic player one-on-one he ranked near the bottom in stops. Those two categories will have to improve if Lin wants to take over the team as many of his fans expect. Another question is how the team itself can help make that easier?
Rockets must learn from Los Angeles Lakers via Dwight Howard failure
The Houston Rockets did what they could to improve their roster in 2012 but in the end the Los Angeles Lakers got the big prize in All-Star center Dwight Howard. Some might see that as failure but a good general manager would take a step back and look at it as a learning experience. A big reason L.A. constantly finds ways to keep their roster so stacked with talent is an ability to draft well. After all it was their powerful young center Andrew Bynum who helped the trade happen. Houston has had modest draft success but they have slowly built their roster into something interesting. Aside from Lin their starting rotation will likely feature a unit built on defense with new center Omer Asik and forward Chandler Parson. Moving on from there the focus for the Rockets will center on getting more athletic and finding scorers. Drafting them is preferable but big names like Tyreke Evans and Monta Ellis will become available in free agency next year. Either way Houston will strengthen their roster.
Jeremy Lin has work to do as does the Rockets franchise. The pieces aren't in place yet like the New York Knicks or Los Angeles Lakers. However they do have a steady foundation. That is a good first step.