Just over two years ago, an unknown point guard from Harvard stepped on the NBA scene and became an instant superstar. Two years later, that star is now being cast aside as another unknown NBA player is starting make a name for himself. The former is Jeremy Lin, also known to most as “Linsanity” and the latter is Troy Daniels, an unknown rookie from VCU.
Before going into Daniels’ emergence, it is important to delve into Lin’s past. With the New York Knicks, Lin became an instant celebrity as the starting point guard under coach Mike D’Antoni, who is now with the Los Angeles Lakers. In 2012-13, the Houston Rockets wanted to have some of Lin’s magic and gave him a three-year, $25 million deal.
During the postseason run a year ago against Oklahoma City, the first seeds of doubt came into play for Lin and the Rockets. The Rockets trailed that series 0-3 when Lin started, and the Rockets won two straight when Lin was benched before losing Game 6, yet another game that Lin did not start. This past season, Lin even lost his starting job to another undrafted player in Patrick Beverley.
For Daniels, his road to NBA stardom has been similar to that of Lin’s. Despite playing on what is now an elite college basketball team in VCU under coach Shaka Smart, the point guard was barely noticed when it came to the NBA Draft and was an undrafted free agent in 2013. Daniels was waived by both the Charlotte Bobcats and the Rockets, similar to when Lin was waived by multiple teams before his rise to stardom.
Daniels finally signed for good with the Rockets on March 5 and was added to the Rockets’ playoff roster.
Now to compare what each has done this postseason for the Rockets. Lin, facing a more athletic and quicker Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers star point guard, has been severely outplayed on both ends of the floor and even worse, he has been outplayed off the bench by a more experienced Mo Williams. Lin’s turnover at the end of Game 4 gave the Trail Blazers a chance to tie the game, and he was on the bench for all of the overtime period, replaced by Daniels.
On the other hand, Daniels has been a hero for the Rockets, making clutch basket after clutch basket. Without his game-winning 3-pointer at the end of regulation, the series would have already been a sweep. Game 4 was turning into an easy Blazers win in overtime until Daniels hit some crucial 3-pointers to keep the Rockets’ hopes alive. In the past two games, Daniels has scored nine and 17 points respectively while Lin has scored only 13 and four respectively.
Given all of the evidence presented, not only is Daniels a better option than Lin right now, but frankly, Daniels’ performance should be forcing people to think that Lin’s contract was one of the worst in NBA history.