Houston Rockets Stat Monkey Brief: Rockets/Lakers (12/4/12)

Jeremy Lin hasn't set the world on fire early in his time in Houston, and Christopher Lee isolates one key fact: Lin's mid-range jumper.

Los Angeles Lakers at Houston Rockets

Kobe Bryant and company make a visit to H-Town for the second meeting between the Lakers and the Rockets this season. Last month, Kobe dropped a triple-double in a 119-108 barnburner at the Staples Center that lacked much defense, with both teams shooting a combined 51.4% from the field. Expect more of the same this time around as the matchup features two of the highest scoring and fastest paced teams in the league.

The game will also pit Jeremy Lin against his former coach Mike D’Antoni, who is 3-4 since taking over for Mike Brown. Last season, under D’Antoni’s tutelage, Lin rocked Madison Square Garden with an electrifying 38-point performance against Los Angeles. However, in the teams’ most recent encounter, Lin shot just two for nine from the field. In this preview, I take a look at Lin’s biggest struggle this season: his jumper.

Jeremy Lin: Not A Great Catch and Shooter

The deterioration in Lin’s shooting percentage is hard to ignore: the once reliable mid-range jumper that was a key weapon in Lin’s offensive arsenal last season has eroded into an obvious Achilles heel thus far this year. Lin simply has not demonstrated the same confidence in his shot and at times, it’s just been… ugly. Take for instance the air ball he put up against the Heat with 15 seconds remaining that would have been a game winner.

Lin was ranked in the top ten among point guards in FG% last season when shooting from 10-15 feet and 16-23 feet. As HoopData notes, he was actually more accurate in the mid-range than the likes of Chris Paul and Deron Williams. This season, however, Lin is shooting jumpers at just a 27% clip.

So what gives? The numbers reveal an interesting difference: Lin is taking more catch-and-shoot jumpers rather than shots off the dribble this season. As he increasingly finds himself playing off the ball in the Rockets’ scheme, this is not a huge surprise. Two-thirds of Lin’s made jump shots have been assisted thus far, compared to just 27% when he was with Knicks. Here’s the problem: Lin is not a good catch-and-shooter. With the Knicks, he shot just 32.7% last season in catch-and-shoot situations. Unless Lin improves this aspect of his game, expect his struggles to continue.

There are positive signs, though. Lin has connected on 53% of jumpers in his last three games. He will need to build on this momentum if the Rockets want to avoid a second loss to the Lakeshow.