Okay, lower you voice…I ain’t hatin’ on Jeremy Lin. The words “incredible” and “unbelievable” are thrown around way too much in sports, but in this case they’re dead on…well, almost. The almost you ask? when you peel away all the numbers, the highlights, and the hype at Madison Square Garden…you’ll see that ’Linsanity’ is really a glorified example of being in the right place at the right time. Plus, if it was happening in any other city than New York (or L.A.) this story wouldn’t be getting nearly the national attention it has. But none of that is Jeremy’s fault. He’s grabbed the bulls by the horns and isn’t letting go anytime soon.L
Lin is a quick and smart point guard who is really poised for a guy with his limited game experience. Most NBA fans don’t know, but the other night wasn’t the first time he lit up John Wall. In the Las Vegas Summer League in 2010, the ‘Harvard Baller’ stole the show and had people talking about him, not Mr. Wall. The following training camp, Phil Jackson tried desperately tried to get Lin in L.A. only to be outbid by the increased playing time offered in Golden State. Then coach, Don Nelson ran a similar system as Mike D’Antoni does now in New York. Nellie saw the potential for ‘Linsanity’.
I love what I’m seeing in the ‘Big Apple’ these days, but Jeremy’s success should still be taken with a grain of salt. Mike D’Antoni’s system is a point guard’s dream. I’m not even talking about the back-to-back MVP seasons of Steve Nash in Phoenix, which coincidentally followed Nellie’s offense in Dallas. Raymond Felton, before his stint in N.Y., was known as ‘the guy who was drafted behind CP3 & D-Will. Now he’s thought of as an All-Star caliber player…though his numbers aren’t nearly as good in Nate McMillan‘s system these days. Oh, and how about when D’Antoni got Chris Duhon to actually be a full-time starter for an entire season. That alone should’ve won him the Coach of the Year Award.
Timing is everything in life. The New York Knicks up until a week ago were a struggling team with a system that didn’t fit its players. The offense of D’Antoni is all about free-flowing ball movement. Carmelo Anthony and, at times, Amar’e Stoudemire are all about ball-holding. Both of these stars have missed most of the games of this ‘Lin-credible’ run by the Knicks…and it’s no coincidence. Jeremy has been allowed to handle the ball and run the show, free from the ego’s and selfishness of his big name teammates.
More than anything else, the Knicks had been missing leadership. Combo guard Toney Douglas…rookie swingman Iman Shumpert…fossil Mike Bibby…cripple Baron Davis. Not a good look at the point. Carmelo and Amar’e have played leader at times in New York, but we all know that’s not their strength. Denver and Phoenix were run by Chauncey Billups and Steve Nash, respectively. Without those two guys Anthony and Stoudemire would have been just glorified J.R. Smith‘s all these years. Thanks to their veteran PG’s, they were allowed to just focus on scoring and rebounding.
Jeremy Lin is a true NBA point guard…it’s in his basketball DNA. He’s one of the better pick n’ roll players in the league and also great at directing traffic on a team of veterans. But if you ask him to walk the ball downcourt and go stand in the corner for spot-ups…then he’ll be forgotten as quickly as Flip Murray n’ Soulja Boy. As great as Jeremy Lin is playing basketball right now, it’s an even greater basketball fit in New York. No one’s trying to diminish what he’s doing, but you have to acknowledge that what’s happening in N.Y. is a perfect storm for both Lin and the Knicks.
This week will define head coach Mike D’Antoni. When Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire return to the lineup, will he have the authority…nay, the balls to to force his stars to follow an undrafted young PG out of Harvard for the rest of the season?
His job and the future of Jeremy Lin weigh in the balance.
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