The Houston Rockets and general manager Daryl Morey already had a good idea of what Jeremy Lin was capable of before the 2010 NBA draft.
Morey opened up about their scouting report on Lin on Michael Lewis’ 2016 book titled “The Undoing Project.” On the book, Morey claimed their model told them that Lin belongs in the top 15 of the draft. However, during this time, Morey still didn’t trust their model completely and passed on him, via Reddit (u/shoot_your_shot).
“He lit up our model,” said Morey. “Our model said take him with, like, the 15th pick in the draft.”
Lin went undrafted in 2010 and spent the 2010-11 season as a fringe player for the Golden State Warriors.
A year later after passing on Lin, the Rockets began measuring the first two steps of basketball players. The result: Lin’s first step was faster than any other basketball player measured. Morey wrestled with the thought on why they passed on Lin.
“He’s incredibly athletic,” said Morey. “But the reality is that every fucking person, including me, thought he was unathletic. And I can’t think of any reason for it other than he was Asian.”
The Rockets, however, would eventually get Lin from 2012 to 2014. This was after the Harvard graduate jumped from team to team — both in the G League and in the NBA, and right after the Linsanity phenomenon with the New York Knicks. During his time with the Knickerbockers, Lin did display his athletic prowess and lightning-quick first step.
Lin wasn’t just going up against mediocre teams. He went up against top players like Deron Williams, then rising star John Wall, as well as the championship squad of Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers. If there’s one thing that Morey and the Rockets have learned, it’s they should have trusted their model and their instinct.