Why Jeremy Lin Is Primed to Have a Bounce-Back Season in 2013-14

From Bleacher Report - NBA
September 19, 2013 - 4:09pm

Houston Rockets guard Jeremy Lin is a player with a handful of flaws, but a lack of self-awareness is not one of them. And it's that quality—perhaps more than any other—that could lead to a banner year for Lin. See, he knows better than anyone that his 2013-14 season will go a long way toward defining his NBA career, and he also knows what he has to do to ensure that he performs better than he did in his first year with the Rockets. There may not be a more divisive NBA figure than Lin. But whether you love him, hate him or, as is the case with a rapidly increasing majority, are flat-out sick of talking about him, everyone can agree that last season was one in which Lin failed to reach his full potential. Part of that failure was attributable to his inexperience, while some of it owed to the weaknesses in his game. So in some sense, he's the one who has to answer for his underwhelming year. At the same time, there were a couple of negative factors that were totally beyond Lin's control. He wasn't the one who decided it'd be a good idea to play alongside another ball-dominant guard in James Harden. Nor was he responsible for an offensive role that featured far too many spot-up looks. The Rockets didn't use Lin in a way that maximized his talents last year, but don't expect the guard to pin the blame on his franchise's misguided decisions. Lin is focusing on himself this offseason, and he knows what has to happen for him to have a bounce back year. According to Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld, Lin acknowledged that he has to improve his left hand, his three-point shot and his defense. Considering that those are the areas of his game that need the most work, It's clear that Lin is taking the right steps to get better. See? There's that self-awareness. Rockets player development specialist Hakeem Olajuwon is extremely optimistic about Lin's potential, telling Mark Berman of Fox 26 in Houston that he saw real progress this past summer: So I went to him and I said 'I thought you can't shoot,' because the way he was shooting, I was very impressed. He was working on his shot. He was shooting tough shots and was making them..He really has been working on his shot and I love his work ethic. Preseason hype is nothing new, though. Especially for someone with a profile as high as Lin's. But the fact is that there really are reasons to believe Lin could be in for a much better year in 2013-14.   Out of the Spotlight It's been about 18 months since Lin could take a breath without blinding camera flashes and scoop-hungry reporters swarming him. Bursting onto the scene the way he did two seasons ago was an unequivocal hindrance on Lin's development. There was no way he could have maintained the level of play he showed during his stint with the New York Knicks, but Linsanity unfairly became his baseline. That meant anything falling short of that impossible standard was somehow disappointing. And with so much media attention glued to him, it became even harder for Lin to focus on his game. Now that a certain marquee free agent—one who actually creates and welcomes his own media circuses—is in Houston alongside Lin, it should be much easier for him to avoid the glare of the spotlight. Dwight Howard is going to be a nice complement to Lin on the court, but he might be even more valuable as a media magnet. Per Kennedy, Lin is over the moon about Howard's arrival:  “I think it’s going to help because there’s going to be less focus on me,” Lin said. “I think that’s going to give me some space to grow and develop as a player.” Lin was at his best when he played like he had nothing to lose. And while his hefty contract and international stardom will make it impossible for him to rediscover that carefree style, it'll certainly make things easier with Howard willingly absorbing all of the attention that would have otherwise spilled onto him. For the first time in a while, Lin is going to be able to breathe.   Comfort and Consistency Sometimes, a little unpredictability can help make the workplace more bearable. After all, monotony is the enemy of productivity...or something like that. At the same time, it's also really hard to do good work when you're getting acclimated to new surroundings, new workplace rules, new colleagues and new bosses. That's been Lin's plight in each year of his professional career, and the constant uncertainty has made it dif


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