Jeremy Lin wax figure

Jeremy Lin feeling comfortable, even with new wax statue of himself


Jeremy Lin has a wax statue of himself now in San Francisco.

Consider it sign No. 1,573,892 that Jeremy Lin remains wildly popular beyond what he brings on the court. He’s still a guy breaking the mold that a large part of the world relates to.

But Jeremy Lin on the court is a solid NBA player. Overpaid? Sure, not going to argue that. And maybe his fame is bigger than his play, but that has been the way of sports since the ancient Greek Olympics.

But make no mistake, Lin can play. His production is good — 12.5 points a game on a well above average .572 true shooting percentage, plus 4.1 assists a game playing almost 29 minutes a game last season. He does some things very well, such as attack off the pick and roll then finish when he gets in the lane. His shot is improving as well, he shot 35.8 percent from three last year. He’s got flaws — he’s not much of a defender, for one — but like most NBA role players he has strengths and the more you play to that the more he helps you.

He’s a solid NBA guard.

Lin is more comfortable heading into his fifth NBA season, now with the Los Angeles Lakers, he told Marcus Thompson II of the Bay Area News Group.

“I am a lot more comfortable now than I was in the beginning. Going into my fifth year, I’m able to handle that now more than ever. I put more pressure on myself now than what I feel from the outside.”

He’s getting used to being a Laker.

“It’s very weird. At first I was like ‘Whoa,’ ” Lin, who learned of the trade while he was overseas. “A lot of my friends and family are diehard Warriors fans, as I was growing up. But I appreciate California so much more now that I’ve been everywhere else.”

Whatever Steve Nash’s health ends up being this season, Lin is going to get a lot of run for the Lakers. Then he’s going to get a new NBA contract next summer, one likely for a little less than he makes now, but he will get one.

He’s a comfortable, solid, NBA rotation player.

51Q: Does Ty Lawson vault the Rockets into the top tier of championship contenders?

DENVER, CO - MARCH 07:  James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets controls the ball against Ty Lawson #3 of the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center on March 7, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. The Rockets defeated the Nuggets 114-100. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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I see five clear upper-echelon championship contenders –  Warriors, Spurs, Clippers, Thunder and Cavaliers.

Do the Rockets belong in that group, or do they fill the next tier by themselves?

Ty Lawson – acquired for pennies on the dollar – could put Houston over the top.

But, really, this premise might not be fair to the Rockets. They earned the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference last season and reached the conference finals last season. James Harden finished second in MVP voting. Dwight Howard looked like a star during the playoffs. The supporting cast – Trevor Ariza, Terrence Jones, Donatas Motiejunas, Patrick Beverley, Corey Brewer and even Jason Terry – played better than anyone expected. Young players like Clint Capela, K.J. McDaniels, Sam Dekker and Montrezl Harrell could make a leap at any moment.

There’s a case to be made we should have taken Houston more seriously even before trading for Lawson.

I didn’t, though, and I don’t think many others did either.

I suspect one of the biggest reasons is the Rockets’ balance. Houston – 12th in points scored per possession, sixth in points allowed per possession – was one of only two teams to win more than 51 games last season without ranking top five in either category. Of the seven teams with so many victories, the Hawks – sixth, seventh – were the only other. Atlanta was a darling team, winning 60 games after going 38-44 the season prior. The Rockets’ modest win increase, from 54 to 56, drew less attention.

But balance shouldn’t be punished. Houston’s surprisingly strong defense should be celebrated. Lawson might push its middling offense over the top.

There are reasons to question that, though.

The biggest is Lawson’s sobriety. If he’s not focused and engaged, this all goes out the window. His comments about going to rehab only because it was court-ordered raise doubts, though they hardly foretell anything.

Let’s say Lawson’s off-court problems are behind him. How big of an upgrade is he? The Rockets already had a pretty good point guard who fit well with Harden in Beverley. Lawson is a clear offensive upgrade, but in the biggest moments, the ball will still run through Harden. At that point, would you rather have Beverley or Lawson on the floor? Beverley is a far superior defender, and his off-ball offensive game isn’t far from Lawson’s. Beverley is is a fine spot-up shooter, and Lawson’s strengths involve having the ball and creating. Lawson’s biggest boost could come when Harden sits, but that was fewer than 12 minutes per game last season.

Sure, a secondary ball-handler could ease pressure on Harden throughout a long regular season. Lawson and Harden can take turns running the attack.

But we’re talking about title contention, and in those high-leverage situations, it’s Harden’s show. How much does Lawson matter then?

The Rockets have a chance to win a championship. As good a chance as the NBA’s five best teams? I’m not so sure.

UNLV following Kentucky’s lead with combine for NBA scouts

Goodluck Okonoboh, Patrick McCaw
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Kentucky held a two-day combine last season for NBA scouts.

Now, LSU and UNLV are following suit.

Rob Dauster of NBC Sports:

The Runnin’ Rebels will hold their event on October 23rd and 24th at the Mendenhall Center, UNLV’s practice facility, sources told The expectation is that all 30 NBA teams will be in attendance.

LSU has potential No. 1 pick Ben Simmons and another first-round prospect in Tim Quarterman.

UNLV features lottery prospect Stephen Zimmerman.

This won’t replace scouts attending games and watching practices, but the fact that all 30 teams plan to attend shows how seriously the pro league takes these. No college team wanted John Calipari to have that competitive advantage in recruiting, so the smart ones are leveling the field with their own combines. Soon, more college teams will follow.

As the calendar gets packed, NBA teams might have to pick and choose which they attend. At that point, we might get little clues about which prospects they’re scouting hardest.