The new Jeremy Lin
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Last February, Jeremy Lin, then of the New York Knicks, became an icon. In fact, the man who started the worldwide "Linsanity" movement was the most Googled athlete on the planet during 2012.

Top that, Tim Tebow.

You probably heard the stories about Lin sleeping on Landry Fields' couch. And the rumors about him dating Kim Kardashian (I guess that didn't work out. Now Kim is having a baby with Kanye West.).

Heck, the guy was on the cover of Sports Illustrated two weeks in a row. Magic Johnson's never done that. Neither has Larry Bird.

But, just like Toyotathon and Blockbuster video stores, all good things must come to an end.

Linsanity in New York came and went. But will the movement catch on in Houston?

So far it hasn't.

That's not to say Lin is having a bad year. He's scoring a decent if unspectacular 12 ppg while also playing well on the defensive side of the ball (he's eighth in the NBA with 1.8 steals per game).

After getting off to a rough start (10.2 ppg on 37.3 percent shooting in November), Lin picked up the pace in December, finishing the month with an average of 13.8 ppg. His field goal percentage was much improved (48.9 percent) while his assist (6.3 apg) and turnover (2.9 turnovers per game) numbers stayed pretty much the same (6.4 apg, 2.9 turnovers per game in November).

That's pretty good for a guy who was playing for the D-League's Erie BayHawks 12 months ago.

Still, I don't think "pretty good" is exactly what Lin's fantasy owners had in mind. Most of us figured Lin's stats would be through the roof in 2012-13 with a new team and a healthy knee.

So far, the knee hasn't been the issue. Lin has played in all 32 of Houston's games this season including Wednesday night's 104-92 victory over the New Orleans Hornets (nine points, seven assists, six rebounds, two turnovers in 42 minutes).

The problem has been Lin's bearded backcourt mate James Harden. After being confined to a bench role in Oklahoma City for three seasons, Harden has become the go-to scorer most fantasy owners were hoping Lin would be.

Harden's scoring average (26.3 ppg) this season is the fifth-highest in the NBA. Only eight players have taken more shots per game than Harden has in 2012-13 (17.4).

Lin, meanwhile, is averaging just 10.6 field goal attempts per game. That'd be fine for some players (Chris Bosh averages 18 ppg on just 12.3 attempts per game while Chris Paul boasts a 16.3 ppg average on only 11.8 shots per contest) but Lin doesn't operate that way. He's a volume scorer.

Lin demonstrated this tendency earlier in the season in a game against San Antonio. During that game, which Harden sat out because of a sprained ankle, Lin broke loose for 38 points on 11-of-21 shooting. When Harden returned two nights later, Lin was limited to just 10 points on eight shot attempts.

During the height of Linsanity, a 10-game stretch that lasted from February 4 to February 20, Lin averaged 24.6 ppg, 9.2 apg and 4.1 rpg while shooting 35.3 percent on three-pointers and 49.7 percent overall. Lin played an exhausting 38.6 minutes per game over that span while heaving up nearly 18 field goal attempts per contest.

Many believe Lin's massive workload during that stretch is what led to his season-ending knee injury. So maybe Lin, who is averaging 33 minutes per game in 2012-13, will be better off in the long run with Harden doing most of the heavy lifting on offense. But for now, fantasy owners will have to settle for the watered-down, less prolific version of Lin (19th among point guards in fantasy points per game).

You can't really blame Houston for using Lin the way it has. With Harden leading the way and Lin playing second banana, the Rockets are sixth in the Western Conference and poised to make the postseason for the first time since 2008-09.

It just makes you wonder what could have been.




Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Jesse Pantuosco at jpantuosco@sportsnetwork.com.

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