Jeremy Lin, James Harden Backcourt Not Compatible; Change Could Happen Soon

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By Lou Ramon Aguila | April 2, 2014 5:29 PM EST

Asian-American star Jeremy Lin is frustrated with his play. In the all-important Western Conference matchup between Houston Rockets and the Los Angeles Clippers, Lin only came up with 10 points on 1-for-10 shooting - a lackadaisical performance that sent a warning to the entire Rockets nation.

Reuters
Jeremy Lin is featured in the latest "This is SportsCenter" commercial.

With Patrick Beverley expected to miss the remainder of the regular season, the Rockets will lean heavily on Lin as their primary ball handler. The former Harvard hot shot is having his most efficient season since arriving in Houston as he's averaging at least 12 points and 4 dimes per game. However, it doesn't look like Lin is ready to carry a big load on his shoulder, again.

Lin might have the ability to dictate tempo and score bunch of points at will, but the presence of James Harden in the backcourt makes everything complicated.

Two years ago, Lin was signed by the Rockets to a three-year, $25 million pact. He was supposed to be the face of the franchise following the retirement of another Asian star - Yao Ming. Unfortunately, General Manager Daryl Morey pulled off a late offseason deal that put a halt in his booming career.

Harden, coming off a Sixth Man of the Year campaign for then Western Conference champ Oklahoma City Thunder, arrived in Houston and quickly dislodged Lin as the man for the Rockets. There's no doubt that Harden has better skills set than Lin, but his tendency to take the ball game in his own hands disrupts the chemistry needed in every team's backcourt.

A concrete example is the Rockets' loss to the Clippers. In this game, Harden put up another impressive stats line with 32 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists, though he turned the ball six times. Head coach Kevin McHale has tendency to let Harden do the ball-handling duties, even with Lin on the court.

Sportige believed Harden's habit to ball hog the ball instead of giving the ball to a true point guard in Lin makes the Rockets a less efficient team on the offensive end and a lot susceptible to opponent's defense.

"Instead of spreading the floor and making it about quick ball movement, it once again became the James Harden show, which means the ball goes through him and stays in hands way longer than it should," according to Sportige.

The article also put the blame on McHale and his coaching staff for implementing a disorganized system in the backcourt, in which Lin usually waits for a pass from Harden, rather than controlling the ball in his hands in every ball possession.

"For yet another example of how skewed the Rockets are in how they approach their offensive game, Lin was depending on Harden to get him the ball. He could have done a better job with his shooting, no doubt, but Lin in the lineup and wasting away all those minutes by looking at Harden try and play point guard is simply an embarrassment to coaching," Sportige reported.

Clearly, there's something wrong in the Rockets backcourt, and it's not Lin's fault. Harden is not expected to change his game anytime soon. It's a bad thing for Lin, who wants to prove that he can be the ideal point guard for a title-contending team like the Rockets. Apparently, Lin has no option right now but to wait and wait for a pass from the Bearded One. Patience is a virtue, sort of.

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(Photo: Reuters / )
Jeremy Lin is featured in the latest "This is SportsCenter" commercial.
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