Jeremy Lin Looks Great in First Scrimmage Footage

Check out the first scrimmage footage by ClutchFans!

Jeremy Lin looks really impressive. I would say that he was the best player on the court during this scrimmage. He played aggressively and had so many assists in a very short amount of time. Brooks was also impressive. TJones and DMo looked good. Howard was solid and so was Harden. Parsons was the most disappointing. I’m concerned that Parsons is letting his new found fame get to his head. This is a bold prediction by me, but I think Parsons is going to struggle early in the season, unfortunately. His shot doesn’t look as good as it did last season. However, if he does struggle I think it’ll be very short lived. I’m confident that he’ll be back in form after a dozen or so regular season games. Hopefully, he’ll get in gear in the preseason. Parsons has always been very mentally tough to me. So I’m counting on his mental toughness to not let his new found fame get to his head.

Even More Important for Lin to be THE Floor General this Season

Last season I wrote a post about how Rockets are more dangerous with the ball starting out in Lin’s hands during end of game situations. Well, this season, with the addition of Dwight Howard and the emergence of Parsons as a near All-Star, it is even more critical for the ball to start out in Lin’s hands not just in end-of-game situations, but for the majority of the game. The reasons I gave in the post I referred to last year become magnified even more now that we have two superstars and a near All-Star in Parsons.

Harden is an elite scorer, but Lin is still a better floor general. Lin is all about the ball finding the optimal scoring situation, whereas Harden is more about scoring the ball himself. But the Rockets are no longer a one-man team (not that I thought it was last season). Now we have four great scorers in our starting lineup (Harden, Howard, Lin, Parsons), so we need to have the ball in the hands of the guy who’s all about the ball finding the optimal scoring situation, Lin. Lin was like this even back in high school. This is the creed that Lin lives by as a baller. Also, as the season progresses, I’m sure Howard is going to figure out that he’ll have more opportunities to score if the does PnRs with Lin vs. Harden, since Lin is an even more willing passer than Harden is. So if McHale wants to make Howard happy, he should let Lin be the main distributor. I just hope McHale figures all of this out. If not, then Rockets won’t be as good as everyone expects them to be this year. But if they do figure this out and Lin’s usage rate surpasses Harden’s then Rockets will be in the Western conference finals and I wouldn’t be surprised if they end up winning the whole thing this year. It always takes time to gel, of course, but they’ll gel much quicker if Lin is allowed to be THE floor general. I just have very little confidence that McHale will let Lin do what Lin does best. I think it’s more likely that McHale will decrease Lin’s role even more and let Beverly take away even more minutes from Lin this season. Let’s hope McHale wakes up.

A recent article, pointed out to me by one of our readers CH, speaks to the importance of letting Lin be the main distributor on the team. I have written about many of the points that this writer makes in his article, so just wanted to highlight it for you all who may have not seen the article. I’m glad to see someone in the somewhat mainstream media echoing a lot of things that I’ve been writing about here.

Morey Finally Gets the Pretty Girl, Lets Hope She Doesn’t Turn into a Dwightmare

Dwight Howard officially became a Rocket on Saturday. It came as no surprise to me. What is surprising is that I’m actually quite happy about the Howard signing now that I’ve gotten to see more of Howard and have a better understanding of the issues that he faced in the past. I think Howard is finally with a team where he belongs. L.A. was the wrong place for Howard. D’Antoni was the wrong coach (for anybody ;-)) and Bryant was the wrong teammate (for anybody). Howard is perhaps the best pick-n-roll big, but didn’t want to do pick-n-rolls with Bryant, because Bryant would end up scoring most of the time, rather than feeding Howard out of pick-n-rolls. In Houston, I think Howard will be more willing to play pick-n-rolls, because he’ll get more chances to score–especially if he does pick-n-rolls with Lin.

Since I’m sure you’ve all listened to and read the news about the Howard signing, I won’t rehash everything that’s been written. From some of the interviews that I’ve seen of Howard, he doesn’t seem like a bad guy. So I’m having a change of heart about Howard. My biggest concern about Howard in the past is that he’d disrupt the chemistry of the team, because I thought he was a selfish player and person. But I think I felt that way, because I never really looked into his situation and so I bought into the media hype about him. Now that I’ve gotten to know him a little more, I don’t think he’ll disrupt the team chemistry–especially since most of the guys want him on the team.

As I’ve said in the past, even though playing in the NBA is a tremendous privilege, it is still a job for these guys, at the end of the day. And, like any job, when you’re not happy, you’re not performing at your best. Howard has not been very happy with his job for several seasons and that’s why he’s had a few rough seasons. But I think he finally does feel like he’s exactly where he belongs in Houston and will start having fun again on the court. I expect Howard to have one of his best seasons in this upcoming season, if he’s 100% healthy. I think he’ll thrive in a team that will do everything they can to make him successful. The most recent example is the fact that they’re working to hire Hakeem Olajuwon to coach Houston’s big men. So I don’t expect to see the Dwightmare in Houston.

I think Rockets will do exceptionally well with Howard. Of course, the big question for us LOFs is what happens to Lin? Well, there were a lot of Lin trade talks leading up to the Howard signing. I’m sure most of you have watched Paul’s videos from Conservative New Media. If not, go and check them out, because I completely agree with Paul’s analysis/speculations of what the Lin trade talks were all about. Rockets shopped Lin (and Asik) around mostly for Howard’s benefit. And now that they have Howard, Lin is very likely to remain with the Rockets. I think another big reason Lin will stay is that Lin’s stock has gone down due to everything that happened in the playoffs, so Morey can’t get the value he wants for Lin. I’m not as confident that Asik will stay, although I think Asik should stay. Even with Howard, Rockets still need a solid backup center and now Rockets have the luxury of having a premiere center as a backup. The only way I trade Asik is if we can get a good backup center and another pretty high caliber player. But I think it would be a mistake to trade Asik for an all-star level Power Forward and not have a solid backup center. I’m one of the rare people who don’t think we need a star Power Forward, because I have a lot of confidence that Terrence Jones will fill that role. He may not be an all-star, but he’ll be good enough for what we need at that spot in this upcoming season.

Anyway, I’m getting a little off topic. Back to Lin. From a purely basketball standpoint, Howard is perfect for Lin. I mean, you’ve got two of the best pick-n-roll players in the game, so their skill sets are very complementary. Lin lost out on tons of assists, because Asik wasn’t a good with catches and finishes. Also, Rockets didn’t do enough pick-n-rolls–especially early in the season–because they didn’t have any big men who were comfortable with setting picks. We all know that Lin thrives in the pick-n-roll, so that was a big reason for Lin’s slow start in Houston. So from a purely basketball standpoint, having Howard is great for Lin.

Of course, there are other factors involved for Lin. The biggest factor is that now that the Rockets have another big star, will McHale sacrifice Lin’s game even more? If McHale focuses purely on X’s and O’s then Lin’s game shouldn’t be sacrificed and should actually be emphasized even more. But I don’t have much confidence that that’s going to happen. We’ll see, though. At the end of the day, a lot of it will depend on Lin and how well Lin’s shot improves. He’s been working hard on his shot all summer and it was already improving very steadily last season. So I do expect Lin to shoot much better this season.

So, overall, I’m a lot happier than I expected I would be about the Howard signing. I see big things for Houston and for Howard. And I potentially see big things for Lin, too, unless McHale screws it up. The Lin situation will have to be monitored during training camp and such. Hopefully, Lin stays with the team, but, like Paul from Conservative New Media, I wouldn’t freak out if Lin got traded. We’ll follow him wherever he goes.