Ah, youth. I've probably written that before about the Rockets, but it bear repeating. The same team that can take the San Antonio Spurs to overtime and beat the Lakers can be crushed by the same teams and lose to the abysmal Toronto Raptors. They squeaked out a win over the Washington Wizards, a historically bad team, and won fairly comfortably over the Boston Celtics two nights later.
This is what the Rockets get on a team saturated with youth. Players will go to the D-League and return. Some nights will be exciting and be loaded with no look passes and athletic plays at the rim. Others will be excruciatingly ugly and lack any form of cohesion. It's the curse of youth. Of course, if you are rookie Royce White, while the team is getting beaten in Toronto, you'll tweet about sushi and movies. Youth.
Tonight, Jeremy Lin returns to Madison Square Garden, ground zero for Linsanity last season. Unfortunately, he's not playing Lin-sane at the moment, more like Lin-thargic. Ok, that was terrible, but the young point guard has struggled to find his place in an offense designed to create ball movement and highlight fellow guard James Harden.
The game Harden was out, Lin went off recording a season high in scoring and looking particularly aggressive, which begs the question: can they co-exist? My guess is that they can, but it will take an adjustment from Lin who thrived under the free flowing system of Mike D'Antoni in New York. Learning to pick his spots and stay aggressive even when he doesn't have the ball and even when his outside shot isn't falling -- no one will confuse Lin with Steve Nash as a shooter -- will take time.
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The learning curve for younger players is frustrating, but worth the effort. That doesn't mean I believe Lin will ultimately be a perennial all-star, even with the help of Asian voters, but I do think he can be a solid complement on a team that will have to learn on the fly. The oldest guy in their rotation is Carlos Delfino at 30. After that, it drops all the way off to 23. Fans seemed to want a youth movement and they got it. Now, we'll all have to be patient -- not a strong suit for most fans.