CHICAGO, February 14, 2012 – Returning to the locker room after four grueling quarters against a tough Timberwolves team and a lanky Spanish legend by the name of Ricky Rubio, Jeremy Lin had just played his worst game in four starts. Lin shot 33 percent, going 8 for 24 from the field, missed all three of his three-point attempts and made only four of his seven free throws.
Wait a second, that was a Knicks point guard’s worst of five games? Pop the champagne New York, this kid’s for real!
The 23-year-old Lin put up 27 points and 8 assists per game in that stretch, the kind of production that the Knicks were craving prior to the arrival of Hurricane Lin. Granted, head coach Mike D’Antoni’s system allows the point guard to do pretty much anything they want, but those numbers are still impressive.
But what happens when superstars Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire come back from their time off? Everyone in the league is interest to see if Lin can mesh together well with the two of them.
No doubt he can.
The luckiest part for the Knicks fans is that everyone in the organization has reason to believe the Lin will only get better. Watching Lin live will reveal that his biggest weaknesses are his outside shooting and his turnovers, a general sign of a player that isn’t comfortable nor familiar in the offense he’s playing with.
But Lin is a Harvard graduate. He’s going to learn the offense. That leaves outside shooting as the major weakness, and the numbers from his incredible streak provide evidence to that fact: Lin is 3 for 17 from beyond the arc.
Now what could possibly remedy a young gunslinger’s ailing jump shot?
How about the Derrick Rose Plan: Take a young, agile point guard that can pass as well as anyone, put him into a gym, and practice the stupid thing until the ball can go into the basket at a respectable rate. If anyone has the work ethic to get it done, I’d definitely put my money on the Harvard graduate.
So Lin’s going to eliminate, or perhaps just mask his glaring weaknesses, but one problem still does exist for the team as a whole: the return of superstars Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire. Anthony injured his groin a week ago, while Stoudemire recently suffered the loss of his brother.
The biggest problem may be the one that will be faced by the Knicks management. Both Melo and Stoudemire are owed somewhere in the neighborhood of $80 million dollars in the next four years, and you’d better believe that the big brass didn’t pay that much money to watch the two of them play second fiddle to Mr. Linimum Wage.
Could this possibly end well for the Knicks?
The reason that Melo and Stoudemire had trouble getting the offense going earlier in the year is that they’re two players that like to go in the same areas of the court and do the exact same thing: score and play statue defense. These two stars are lazy on the other end of the court, nearly offsetting their offensive prowess, and that’s probably the reason that the Knicks were 8-15 before the first coming of Lin.
However, Lin offers a brilliant new dimension to an offense that had previously missed it sorely: a point guard that can play basketball. No longer will the Knicks have to announce Toney Douglas as a starter, and no longer will Iman Shumpert be asked to be a point guard.
Lin can play the pick-and-roll exponentially better than anyone else on the offense, and that kind of penetration will only lead to better openings for the incumbent superstars, even though there won’t be as many.
Jeremy Lin just singlehandedly saved the Knicks’ season, putting them into playoff position with a five game win streak when no one expected the Knicks to win any of games due to their absent stars. More importantly for the Knicks, this hard-nosed worker of a guard is only going to get better, putting the franchise into the category of “contender” for the next several seasons.
To contact Nick Goralka, see above to send him an e-mail containing a question, comment or scathing insult. His work appears in Alley-oops for Touchdowns! In the Communities at the Washington Times Online.
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