Jeremy Lin plays in an exhibition game in Guangzhou on Sept. 4. (File photo/Xinhua)
Jeremy Lin, the first NBA player of Taiwanese descent, expressed surprise and excitement Friday at a big jump in his ranking by the sports channel ESPN.
Lin was ranked as the 78th best player in the league for the coming season, up from 467th in the ESPN's previous rankings.
"Anything above 467 would have been sweet, but 78?? wow... blessed and thankful," Lin tweeted.
The former New York Knicks point guard sparked a craze known as "Linsanity" in his breakthrough season this year with a series of spectacular performances after coming off the bench as a unknown with his team decimated by injury.
Dubbed "NBA Rank," the ESPN rankings were based on the votes of 104 voters made up of senior ESPN writers and TrueHoop Bloggers, who rated players on a scale of 1-10.
The prominent sports channel said Lin's ranking could be arguably the most debated on the internet, with his loyal fans thinking he should be higher than 78th. But given that the whole Linsanity run only lasted 25 games, ESPN said, a good case could be made that his ranking is perhaps too high.
In his 35 games with the Knicks in the 2011-2012 season, Lin averaged 14.6 points, 6.2 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 1.6 steals.
When the new NBA season begins in late October, Lin will hit the court for the Houston Rockets, as the Knicks failed to match the Rockets' three-year, US$25.1 million contract offer in July.
Lin's stint with the Rockets won't be his first, but his return to the team is seen as ushering in a new era for both himself and the franchise. Lin was on the Rockets team briefly before being waived at the start of the 2011-2012 season.
Some critics have argued that Lin's NBA record — starting in 25 of the only 64 games he played on court — does not justify the lucrative Rockets deal, but many other sports commentators have said they have high expectations of him. They said his performance in Houston in the new season could give an indication of how the rest of his career will go.
Despite having only played around half a season as a regular starter, Lin will somewhat bizarrely be among the veteran leaders on a team filled with youth and inexperience, sports commentators said, adding that it will say a lot about Lin's ability to lead if the Rockets can sneak into the playoffs as a result.
Lin missed last season's playoff run with the Knicks because of a knee injury.
In the first four starts of his career from Feb. 6 to Feb. 11, the Harvard economics graduate led the injury-depleted Knicks to wins over the Utah Jazz, Washington Wizards, Los Angeles Lakers and Minnesota Timberwolves.
During the run, Lin averaged 27.3 points and 8.3 assists a game and became the first player in NBA history to put up at least 20 points and seven assists in each of his first four starts.