Linsanity in LA: Jeremy Lin begins life with the Los Angeles Lakers
If you aren't living under a rock, then you've probably heard that the Los Angeles Lakers acquired Jeremy Lin in a trade with the Houston Rockets . In addition, the Lakers also received a first round pick and future draft considerations in exchange for cash and rights to an unnamed overseas player.
That's right folks, Linsanity has arrived in Los Angeles! If you remember two years ago during the peak of Linsanity, Jeremy went off for 38 points against Kobe Bryant and the Lakers in Madison Square Garden en route to a resounding win. After that game, which I will never forget, all eyes were focused on the young Asian American phenom from Harvard. Next season things will come full circle and the Asian hope for the NBA will play for the team which helped catapult him into worldwide stardom.
On the Court Impact
So what exactly does Jeremy bring to the Lakers on the court? Last season, he averaged 12.5 points, 4.1 assists and 1.2 threes with the Houston Rockets. These numbers were slightly down from his previous season, but part of that was due to the reduction in his minutes and the emergence of Patrick Beverley. If we take a look at advanced stats, Lin shot 57.9 percent off drives last season, second only to LeBron James who shot 63.8 percent (minimum seven drives per game). That's proof that Lin is a stellar dribble-drive player.
During the playoffs, Lin also led the Rockets in assist percentage (he assisted on 22.8% of his team's field goals) and assist ratio (24.3 assists per 100 possession). He did that while only ranking fourth on his team in usage percentage at 19%. All that to say is Lin is a clutch playmaker who will definitely find his teammate's good looks.
A quick look at his shot chart and one can see that Lin is most effective near the rim and from beyond the three-point arc. He hit 57.7 percent of his shots within five feet of the basket and also drained 35.8 percent of his three-pointers. The Lakers are getting an intelligent playmaker who can pass, drive, and connect from deep. One question that the Lakers will need to answer is how often will they let Jeremy handle the ball? He clearly is most effective when he is the primary ball handler, but as we all know the Lakers already have a ball-dominant superstar in Kobe Bryant. This will be an important wrinkle to pay attention to early on next season. Whoever ends up coaching the Lakers will have to figure out a the ball handling balance between Kobe and Lin.
As soon as the news of Jeremy Lin-to-LA hit Twitter, my text messages and Facebook feeds blew up with overjoyed Lakers fans. I'd wager that the entire San Gabriel Valley area was swept up in pandemonium and Asian American churches throughout the Southern California area leapt for joy (pun intended see: Luke 6:23).
Los Angeles and its surrounding metropolitan areas have an enormous Asian American population. Most of these Asian Americans are also basketball fans and I wouldn't be surprised if Lin's jersey sales outpace Kobe's early next season. Lin will have an huge impact on the fans in Los Angeles and he'll be loved from the moment he sets foot there. Every Asian mother will be harping on her son to be like Jeremy and badgering her daughter to woo him.
No one has any illusions that the Lakers will compete for a championship next season, but at least they'll be a fun team to watch. Hopefully Lin can deliver some memorable moments for the fans next season.