NBA Saturday: Will Lin Be An All-Star Starter?


Will Jeremy Lin Be An All-Star Starter?

The Western Conference is loaded with star-caliber guards such as Chris Paul, Stephen Curry, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Kobe Bryant, Damian Lillard and Tony Parker. Even the guards in the next tier are very talented, including Goran Dragic, Ty Lawson, Mike Conley, Jrue Holiday and Ricky Rubio among others.

However, even with so many talented point guards and shooting guards in the conference, don’t be surprised if Jeremy Lin ends up being a starter for the West All-Star team come February.

Before you do a spit take and call me crazy, hear me out. With the combined support of Los Angeles Lakers fans and international followers, Lin will certainly be in the mix for an All-Star nod.

In 2013 (his last season as a full-time starter with the Houston Rockets), Lin racked up 883,809 votes, which was third among West guards (trailing only Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul). In fact, only 45,346 votes separated Lin and Paul, which isn’t much. The next highest guard in the West, James Harden, had 397,823 fewer votes than Lin.

Last year, even with Lin on the bench behind Patrick Beverley in Houston, he remained in the top four, finishing behind only Stephen Curry, Bryant and Paul. For the second straight year, he finished ahead of guards like Harden, Damian Lillard and Tony Parker (all of whom were eventually selected to the team by coaches).

Now, entering the 2014-15 season, not only will Lin continue to have a ton of support overseas, he’ll also be playing for one of the most popular teams in the NBA and should be a starting point guard once again. Players who don the purple and gold always get a boost in voting since the team has an enormous fan base. Also, it doesn’t hurt that the Lakers get a ton of exposure since they are constantly on national television (they’ll be on national TV at least 28 times this season). The fact that Lin is a household name will also help him, since many casual fans fill out ballots just to support one team or player, and then fill out the remaining spots with players they have heard of or like and not necessarily based on who is playing the best. All of those factors combined make an All-Star selection for Lin conceivable.

This wouldn’t be the first time that an NBA player with a big international following was surprisingly selected as an All-Star. Remember, Yao Ming was voted as the starting center for the 2011 NBA All-Star game despite the fact that he had only played in five games and was out for the season due to a stress fracture in his left ankle. Also, before the injury he had posted career-lows across the board (10.2 points and 5.4 rebounds) and was clearly limited in what would be his final NBA season. Even still, he garnered 1,146,426 votes and easily won the starting job for the West (with Kevin Love serving as his injury replacement).

The point is, never underestimate international voters. If Yao can receive over a million votes and earn a starting spot with what ended up being a career-ending injury, don’t be shocked if Lin is starting for the West in this year’s All-Star game despite putting up worse numbers than his peers.

Last season, Lin averaged 12.5 points and 4.1 assists in 71 games for the Rockets. He came off of the bench for much of the season, but was serviceable when put in the starting lineup, averaging 14.2 points and 4.5 assists in 33 starts.

Lin did have several dominant games that had fans dreaming of Linsanity 2.0. In November, he had 31 points on 10-17 shooting against the Toronto Raptors, and then in the following game against the Philadelphia 76ers he had 34 points, 11 assists and five rebounds. If he can have some more performances like these, which is certainly possible if he gets a lot of touches and minutes in Los Angeles, fans will be even more likely to vote for him.

Lakers Nation and the international audience will certainly help Lin get a ton of All-Star votes this season. The question is, will he get enough to be the West’s starter?

Basketball Insiders caught up with Lin earlier this summer to discuss his trade to the Lakers, the high expectations that have followed him since Linsanity and much more. Check out the interview here.

Rajon Rondo to Miss 6-8 Weeks After Surgery

The Boston Celtics announced today that guard Rajon Rondo underwent successful surgical fixation of a left metacarpal fracture this morning at New England Baptist Hospital.

The injury was a result of a fall at his home last night. According to reports, Rondo fell when he was getting out of the shower.

The surgery was performed by Dr. Hervey Kimball and Celtics Team Physician Dr. Brian McKeon and the estimated timetable for return is six to eight weeks.

This is an unfortunate setback for Rondo and the Celtics, since he was supposed to be back to full strength this season after being somewhat limited last year as he returned from a torn ACL. Now, he’ll miss training camp and the early part of the 2014-15 season.

The other reason this is unfortunate for Boston is because it could hurt Rondo’s trade value and give them less time to showcase him and prove he’s at full strength. There have been plenty of rumors surrounding Rondo lately, since he’ll be an unrestricted free agent after the season and it may make more sense for the Celtics to move him before the trade deadline rather than hold onto him and risk losing him for nothing next offseason. Now, this setback could affect Boston’s plans.

While Rondo recovers, Marcus Smart will be the team’s starting point guard. He’ll get the starting point guard reps in training camp and likely begin the season in the starting five, which is a great opportunity for the lottery pick.

Last season, Rondo only played in 30 games (all starts) and averaged 11.7 points, 5.5 rebounds, 9.8 assists and 1.33 steals in 33.3 minutes per game. Rondo recorded a season-high 22 points against Atlanta on February 26, a season-high 11 rebounds against Philadelphia on April 4. On March 9 against Detroit, Rondo recorded 18 assists and zero turnovers, passing Bill Russell for fifth highest assist total in Celtic franchise history.