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Jeremy Lin profile: Could the maligned guard find new life with the Mavericks?

After rough seasons in Houston and with the Lakers, Jeremy Lin has fallen off most GMs' radars. If Ellis is out, the Mavs should still give him a call.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The name Jeremy Lin is a bit taboo in the NBA these days. As with most unfulfilled promise, there is a bit of misdirected anger at Lin for him not being able to consistently be the player that saved (television coverage of) basketball in New York City and won the hearts of NBA fans across the country.

Everyone fell in love with Lin, not just Knicks fans. He was the first Asian American to play in the NBA in decades. He slept on his brother's couch while being the best player in the world for a few weeks. He, somehow, had grumpy old basketball writers petitioning for him to be in the All-Star Game on the basis of about 12 pre-All Star break games.

"Linsanity" was real and it was amazing. It didn't hurt that Lin had swagger, posing after game-winning shots like he knew it was going it. It also didn't hurt that he signed every autograph, did every interview, and has a delightful personality. For a two-week span, Jeremy Lin was basically operating on what we now know as "Step Curry levels". There were movies made, there were Sports Illustrated covers, and then there was the coaching change (Woodson for D'Antoni) and the drop in Lin's play, before Lin injured his knee and his season was over. Linsanity was dead.

This past offseason, Lin signed a big-money contract for the Houston Rockets, who were starved to retain their Chinese audience after the retirement of Yao Ming: three years for roughly $25 million for a guy coming off knee surgery, who had previously been a nobody and who fell apart after D'Antoni was fired. It worked out about as well as you'd expect -- with Lin spending the third year of the contract on the bench for the Lakers.

The name "Jeremy Lin" is going to be bandied about in free agency this offseason, and just about every fan of every team will recoil in horror when they hear it. He'll be called overrated. People will say his only value was getting hot for a few weeks in 2011 for a bad Knicks team. However, Mavs fans may want to consider embracing Lin -- if Monta Ellis isn't back, he might be exactly what the team needs.

The numbers

Just how good was Lin in 2011, and just how bad has he been since? I'm glad you asked!

Here are his per-36 stat lines for his Knicks' year, his two years with the Rockets, and last year (as a bench player) with the Lakers:

NYK: 19.6 points (55.2 percent TS%), 8.3 assists (6.9 turnovers), 2.1 steals, 4.1 rebounds
HOU: 15.2 points (55.2 percent TS%), 6.1 assists (3.2 turnovers), 1.5 steals 3.3 rebounds
LAL: 15.7 points (53.9 percent TS%), 6.4 assists (3.1 turnovers), 1.5 steals, 3.7 rebounds

I know, I know. You want a baseline. To you, it seems like that's not so bad. As Harden's second-banana in Houston, Lin did everything a little less (including turning the ball over), but he didn't play poorly...right? Let's compare to some Mavs guards from 2014-15.

Ellis: 20.2 points (50.9 percent TS%), 4.4 assists (2.6 turnovers), 2.0 steals, 2.5 rebounds
Barea: 15.3 points (50.2 percent TS%), 7.0 assists (1.9 turnovers), 0.9 steals, 3.5 rebounds
Harris: 14.2 points (55.9 percent TS%), 5.1 assists (1.8 turnovers), 1.7 steals, 2.9 rebounds

It's worth noting that Lin, like the guys above, has a reputation for being terrible on defense. It's not unearned, but you also have to remember who he has played with for the last three seasons. Lin was actually an okay defender in New York, where he wasn't being forced to cover for James Harden or Kobe Bryant or Carlos Boozer get the idea.

Going back to the offensive numbers above, Lin seems to fit in nicely with that group, no? It's not as if his stats would stand out like a sore thumb. You could even argue that, in the right offense, Lin could improve his game (like all three of the above guys have done in Dallas) and become the best of the bunch.

Fit with the Mavs

At 6'3" and 200 pounds, Lin has prototypical size for an NBA point guard. Somewhere along the line, probably when he was hitting game-winners for the Knicks, someone decided that Lin is a one-on-one player. This is wrong.

Jeremy Lin is a smart basketball player. He's not a great shooter, but he has a good mid-range shot (especially from the left side) and he has a few spots where he can be a dangerous 3-point shooter as well (he shot over 40 percent from dead-center and the right elbow this last season). This explains his decent True Shooting Percentage shown above.

On any other NBA team, Jeremy Lin makes for a solid backup PG. He may even be able to fill in if the starter is injured. However, there are enough flaws in his game (he doesn't handle traps well, his defense is atrocious, he can't create his own shot, etc.) that you could argue he shouldn't be starting. In Houston, he lost his starting job to Patrick Beverley faster than you can sing "Deep in the Heart of Texas."

For the Dallas Mavericks, who seem to thrive with adopting "flawed" players (Charlie Villanueva, Monta Ellis, J.J. Barea) and have tended to disagree with well-rounded "stars" (Lamar Odom, Rajon Rondo)...Jeremy Lin might just be perfect.

If Monta Ellis is not around next season to be the facilitator of the team's pass-heavy, movement-based pick-and-roll offense (the one that worked before and after Rondo), the team could do a lot worse than Lin.

For one thing, Lin is nowhere near a finished product. There are exactly three players on last year's Mavs' roster younger than Lin (who is 26 years old): Al-Farouq Aminu, Greg Smith, and Dwight Powell. If Lin were to find a home as the latest addition to the Mavs' roster of misfit toys, he and Parsons could ride out the prime of their careers together.

Secondly, as previously mentioned, many have already given up on Lin. Fans don't like him after seeing him in Mike Woodson's offense in New York (which...come on...), in Houston (where he played more of a SG role next to Harden, despite the fact that he is ill-fitted for that spot), and in Los Angeles (where he was basically asked to win one-on-one matchups off the bench because Byron Scott doesn't know what he's doing). It's not just fans, either. Most GMs no longer view him as anything more than a backup, which means Lin will be awful cheap this offseason (but probably look for a short-term contract with a run-and-gun team).

If they're looking for a player to fill in for Ellis, someone who has had success in this style of offense in the past and has plenty of room to grow, the Mavs should be targeting Jeremy Lin. Add in the fact that they could likely add him without breaking the bank, and he only becomes more attractive.