A day after the anniversary of his emergence, Jeremy Lin ’10 had a banner night against the Golden State Warriors. Lin scored 28 points on just 16 shots and made a career-high five threes on the day, part of Houston’s 23 from beyond the arc. That mark tied an NBA record and was in large part due to Lin’s nine assists, which led the team.
On February 4, 2012, Lin—starting his first game for the New York Knicks—registered career highs in points, rebounds, and assists with a 25-5-7 line against the New Jersey Nets. Lin got the best of All-Star point guard Deron Williams and led the struggling Knicks to a 99-92 victory. His performance spurred of the beginning of Linsanity, a string of seven straight wins that culminated with Lin winning Eastern Conference Player of the Week after his first four starts and playing in the Rising Stars Challenge of the NBA’s All-Star Weekend before getting injured later in the season and missing the playoffs.
Lin, who was waived by both the Rockets and the Warriors before the 2011 season, famously lived on his cousin’s couch when he first got to New York—not expecting to stay in the city long enough to need an apartment. After star Carmelo Anthony urged coach Mike D’Antoni to play the Harvard graduate, he became an instant sensation in D’Antoni’s wide-open offense—which caters well to Lin’s specific skill set and allowed him to flourish.
After the season, restricted free agent Lin was encouraged by the Knicks to seek other offers but was expected to resign with the team. Nate Silver wrote in the New York Times that Lin had been worth nearly $600 million to the team since his emergence but after Houston Rockets general manager offered Lin a hefty contract that would have cost the Knicks a sizable amount in luxury tax payments, they chose to let Lin go and replaced him with a combination of Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd.
Lin has struggled in Houston to adapt to a new offense in which he is playing off the ball. The team’s trade for James Harden right before the season meant that Lin could not dominate the ball as he did in New York. Lin had adjusted as a spot-up shooter and is rebounding and assisting at roughly the same rate as last year and cut his turnovers at the same time. He leads a surprising Rockets team that currently holds a playoff spot in the ultra-competitive West. His three-point percentage is down overall but has increased by at least thirty points each month and this month he is shooting 5-10 from behind the arc.
At the age of 24, Lin has vanished from the limelight that pursued him in New York. The storylines are abundant—as a Harvard graduate and the first Asian-American star since Yao Ming, he has generated a lot of publicity (and controversy, with racially insensitive remarks after his emergence)—but he has a long way to grow. Lin was +37 in plus/minus on Tuesday, his best performance of the year in that category and a sign of future growth. His story is only a year old, but it is far from over.