Houston Rockets Rookie Isaiah Canaan Makes Jeremy Lin Expendable This Summer

Isaiah Canaan Houston Rockets

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Rockets are extremely pleased with the way rookie point guard Isaiah Canaan has played since he was thrust into the rotation after Patrick Beverley tore his meniscus. With Houston’s second-round investment paying off, Jeremy Lin could be the most expendable part of the Rockets’ rotation heading into the offseason.

Canaan was the 34th overall selection of the 2013 NBA Draft — a draft in which Daryl Morey begrudgingly only owned one pick (Houston’s first-round pick went to the  Oklahoma City Thunder as part of the James Harden trade). As a whole, the 2013 draft pool was weak, but several point guards have proven to be effective in their rookie campaigns.

Michael Carter-Williams (11th overall to the Philadelphia 76ers), Victor Oladipo (second overall to the Orlando Magic) and Trey Burke (ninth overall to the Utah Jazz) will almost certainly be 1-2-3 in the Rookie of the Year voting (probably in that order). Meanwhile, C.J McCollum (10th overall to the Portland Trail Blazers), Dennis Schroder (17th overall to the Atlanta Hawks) and Nate Walters (38th overall to the Washington Wizards, traded to the Milwaukee Bucks) have all displayed promise in their rookie years, with Schroder looking like a future starter (although he’s still incredibly raw) and McCollum and Walters looking like future effective second-string floor generals.

Canaan definitely hasn’t put up the kind of numbers that MCW, Burke and Oly have, but if he were put their shoes this season, I believe he’d be a Rookie of the Year candidate as well.

The most surprising parts of Canaan’s game are his confidence and on-ball defense. Canaan played four years at Murray State before making the jump to the NBA, and it’s clear that he’s far more polished than most of 2013 rookie class. From the minute Canaan stepped on an NBA court, he’s looked comfortable, possessing great body language and constant aggression.

Defensively, Canaan is much more evolved than most youngsters, with the strength to go chest to chest with stronger guards and the foot speed to stay in front of quicker ones. Canaan has turned the ball over at a very high rate (11 turnovers in the last six games in under 20 minutes a night), but that’s something I feel he’ll get better with as he adjusts to the speed of the game. In regards to shooting, he’s already displayed the ability to launch off the dribble and off the catch with a quick trigger — something that’s important since he lacks size at barely six-feet tall.

Canaan had his unofficial coming-out party Apr. 6 against the Denver Nuggets, draining four three-point shots and finishing with 15 points in less than 19 minutes of action. Once again the rookie’s confidence was in full swing, as he launched from all angles without a second’s hesitation.

While Canaan has been displaying confidence, Lin has been disappointing. Yes, Lin is still a much better starting option for this season’s Rockets (which he reinforced against the Nuggets, scoring 19 points and coming up with a clutch steal in crunch time to help Houston finish a comeback), but given Canaan’s youth and the size of Lin’s contract (due to make $15 million next season, $8.3 million against the cap), it seems very likely that Morey moves Lin and keeps Canaan as Beverley’s backup.

Morey has been very effective in his ability to replace more expensive, older players with younger, cheaper players who possess more upside. Of course, the possibility still exists that Houston scores an upgrade at the one this summer (a guy like Jeff Teague comes to mind) and the move could lead to either backup point guard hitting the road.

One thing is for certain in all of this: Morey sure knows how to draft in the second round.

Mike De Moor is an NBA writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @MikeDeMoor, “like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google

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  • a z

    Another baseless Lin bashing article from De Moron. During Linsanity, De Moron would say it was too few games to reach any conclusion. How many games has Canaan played? Please warn the public that these articles are written by De Moron, then we would never click them. I did not use the word “read” because as soon as I saw it was from De Moron, I knew it would be stupid. Wait, De Moron is Rant’s NBA writer? Don’t bother warning the public, would not read Rant again.

  • mma_ko

    You beat me to it. I said to myself, who writes this junk … must be a Lin hating troll … sounds like De Moor. And then I look up at the author and was right! I do hope Lin gets traded so he can get away from that coach, those “fans”, those writers ….

  • John Smith

    lol De Moor… just how low could this guy get

    Now Lin critics are implying Canaan is better than Lin??!! lmao!!!!!

  • EnoughXQZs

    WTF They made a big mistake for trading Aaron Brooks.They say Tony Douglas is the answer then it was Beverley and now Canaan?Give me a break!!!!!These Haters praise all point guard Houston have including Rookie except Jeremy.Smush Parker>Jeremy Lin you happy now?These type of people i swear^Damn!!!

  • wdj abacus

    Your statement that “The Houston Rockets are extremely pleased with the way rookie point guard Isaiah Canaan has played since he was thrust into the rotation after Patrick Beverley tore his meniscus.” has as much truth as: Mike De Moor’s mother is extremely embarrassed by her son’s total lack of integrity. Come to think of it, I mean less truth.

  • pwizo

    oh its this writer again. hes just a Lin hater. nothing to see here.

  • EnoughXQZs

    We almost lose the game because of McFail letting Canaan played in 4th quarter Aaron Brooks came up strong and schooling him thanks to Jeremy huge steal FT and Harden 3 tied the send it to overtime that’s the whole story not this kind of bullcrap!

  • Rosh Smith

    No wonder why this guy been kick in bleachers report.

    • Intrep1d

      He lashed out at his readers. No credible writer does that.

    • Paradigm

      He was fired by yahoo as well.

  • 671citizen

    I like the new De Moron name. It couldn’t fit any better. This Mike De Moron dedicates his time to write anything bad about Lin, every single garbage article he ever wrote was about Jeremy Lin. He uses baseless stats, arguements to make his point. However, if you read his garbage( I wasted my time to read), you would notice the obivous moronic and contradiction about how he assess the rocket players.

    I have told him many time in Bleacher report, yahoo, hoophabits, and rantsports to stop writing about Lin, write something else or someone else. But he won’t quit, Mike De Moron has a personal vendetta against Lin since he got kicked out from bleacher report which he wrote some controversial racist article.

    This Mike de Moron would even use different alias on yahoo during game to comment something stupid, nonsense stuffs. He would use Mike, Mirror, or other alias at yahoo to bashing Lin whenever chance he got.

    Go bash andrea bargnani or Jason richardson making all those money and not playing.

    There is no medicine for this De Moron’s stupidity.

    And you know the sad part about that is he has no clue what he is writing about.

  • Intrep1d

    De Moor needs to stop pretending this was actually about basketball, since his articles are trying to stick it to Lin fans more than anything else. His post history even complains that Lin is still getting too much love. All this junk does is take up room in Rockets News feeds.

  • Will

    It’s funny that with a small such a small sample size, he’s already crowning the kid as the new king of basketball… Oh yeah he ain’t asian

    • Dan Cohen

      Funny thing is that when lin had his ‘linsanity’ run.. people was wondering if he was fluke..but a kid has 2 good games and then they say he is good? Hypocrite!

  • Paradigm

    So a rookie who has barely played in the NBA is now better than Lin? Canaan has not played enough NBA games to prove that he is the better option. I could see Canaan be Houston’s backup after Lin’s contract expires, not now.

  • Dan Cohen

    Funny thing is that when lin had his ‘linsanity’ run for 25 games.. people was wondering if he was fluke..but a kid has 2 good games and then they say he is good and better? Hypocrite!

  • Cber Cop

    3 matches later IC is not even in the games having thrown bricks. Makes this writer looked like a complete idiot.. if he has any NBA sense, he would not rant and rave after a small sample of 2 games.. I think this writer is better sticking to writing fantasy stories for girly magazines