There was no formula for Linsanity

Jeremy Lin #7 of the Houston Rockets gestures

Jeremy Lin #7 of the Houston Rockets gestures to his teammates as they play against the Knicks. (Dec. 17, 2012) (Credit: Jim McIsaac)

BOSTON -- Jeremy Lin was a Rocket for two weeks in December 2011, but the team let him go, only to see him flourish with the Knicks. By the time Houston signed him back last summer, it cost the team more than $25 million.

How could a famously analytics-friendly general manager such as the Rockets' Daryl Morey have miscalculated him so badly in the first place?

"He's a really interesting case study," Morey said of the former Harvard star. "He was very hard to forecast because he looks so different from anyone who's come before. There aren't a lot of Ivy League guys who make the league, so it's very hard, or even small-college guys who make it. So it's very hard to separate out the signal and noise.

"We liked him. I think everyone's model said he was going to be great. The problem was at the small-college level, there are 20 to 30 guys every year who look like they're going to be great. How do you separate that out? We brought him in and liked him, but we had no inkling he could be as good as he is."

By Feb. 9, 2012, in the early stages of Linsanity, Morey was publicly expressing regrets via Twitter. He got his second chance in July, prying Lin from the Knicks. Lin has not been spectacular, but he has been a good fit for the playoff-contending Rockets.

"We were trying to find bets that could have a very high upside and Jeremy was absolutely that," Morey said. "We knew he could play at an All-Star level. We didn't sign him to a [dollar] number that he needed to play at an All-Star level. But we liked that no one knew what he was going to become and we believed it might be very good."

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