Blog Entry

Let the great Lin debate begin

Posted on: February 12, 2012 12:51 am
Edited on: February 12, 2012 1:19 am
Jeremy Lin was just 8-24 from the field Saturday but still got the win. (Getty Images)
By Matt Moore 

And now the fun part begins. Jeremy Lin is no longer undeniable nor deniable after the Knicks100-98 win over the Timberwolves. Let me take you down the road of point/counterpoint that will be hashed and re-hashed over the next 48 hours.

"Lin got the win, that's all that matters."

"Lin was inefficient and missed 14 shots from the field."

"Lin managed to pull 20 points and 8 assists while playing a quality defensive team surrounded by Tyson Chandler, Steve Novak, and Landry Fields as his best weapons."

"A good story doesn't erase a poor game."

"It was the Knicks' third game in four nights, and a back-to-back. The kid has logged long minutes. Everyone gets tired this year."

"It was against the 13-15 Timberwolves." 

"The Wolves are 15th in efficiency differential (12th in defensive efficiency), were above .500 before the Kevin Love suspension. And didn't the win over the Lakers kill the 'strength of schedule' argument?"

"The defense figured him out in the second half."

"Not enough."

And both sides are correct. It was not a great performance by Lin, but it was enough to help the Knicks win. It was inefficient, but highly productive. Lin made some poor plays, and some brilliant ones. Lin is entering the next phase of what happens when you're a phenomenon. And while Lin is not worthy of being compared to the great players of this league, not even close, if we examine this five game stretch as a microcosm of how analysts, fans, and media react to polarizing players, this is the next evolution.

Good enough for the supporters to herald, poor enough for the backlash to begin. Did he win the game, even when he hit the game-winning free throw, or was it defense and poor execution by Minnesota late that kept the Knicks' Linning streak alive? Did he struggle because he was exhausted from hoisting a team without Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire, half their payroll, and on a back-to-back, third-in-four? Or was it Minnesota figuring him out?

The debate will rage. His supporters are validated by the simplified 20-8-6-3 line and a win, the backlash buoyed by his turnovers and shooting percentage. And the answer lies in the middle.

Lin was clearly exhausted, as the elevation on his second-half shots reveals. He would land and take longer to recover to his feet. He looked winded, he drifted to the edges at times, and admitted after the game everyone was tired.

But Lin also admitted that the Timberwolves did a good job defending him. And they did. It's been no secret since Lin's first explosive performance that the key is forcing him left. Lin is notably weaker with his left, and in fact, the Wolves shaded him constantly to his left. When Lin attempted to move right in the pick and roll, a second defender would pop to the elbow to drive him back left.

That said, Lin missed several very makeable shots going to his left, including a floater over Nikola Pekovic and a bank shot over Love. Pekovic may have been the biggest difference maker. Not only did he challenge Lin at the rim, but he managed to keep with him laterally without fouling. Most teams don't have a defender of that quality (speaking of players who came out of nowhere), but it does show that Lin is more than mortal.

And yet.

Lin also forced several possessions, often getting into the air and trying to finish with floaters over three defenders instead of passing out to a wide-open corner man, which he has done so much during this streak. Some of that is exhaustion wearing on his decision-making. Some of it is just forcing it.

Do we need to make excuses, though? Hasn't Lin already proved himself, especially since he had a poor game by the new established standards for him and still won the game with 20 points and 8 rebounds? Should we hold him to a higher standard, considering what should be lowered expectations?

It's too late for all that. This thing has taken on a life of its own. And you have to wonder if that was the real difference against Minnesota. The Knicks played well defensively. They got some breaks. Lin was productive but not efficient. But as much as I try and boil things down to metrics and plays and X's and O's, it's hard to watch this game and not walk away with a simple conclusion.

Some things can't be stopped. And while the rollercoaster has to end sometime, right now? Nothing has been able to stop Linsanity. Minnesota is just the latest to experience it.

Since: Feb 2, 2012
Posted on: February 12, 2012 6:26 am

Let the great Lin debate begin

Richy riches your not too smart are you boi? You mention Lin missed 14 shots and Kobe missed 18 the other night but no one talked about that etc etc and that it's a doube standard.... Rather misleading wouldn't you say? More accurate would be to point out they're percentages. Kobe missed 18 shots, but he had a better fg percentage than Lin did vs Minnesota. Your supposed to look at the percentage kid. What's more, kobe's missed shots weren't easy layups at point blank range. Nor were his made shots for that matter. Degree of difficulty can not be compared. Lin also had 6 or 7 turnovers (again). His turnovers and missed shots came at crucial moments and were unforced (no double teams). There's no double standard. Lin was mediocre last night, do not compare that performance to kobe's vs the Knicks.

Since: Oct 27, 2006
Posted on: February 12, 2012 5:27 am
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Since: Aug 19, 2006
Posted on: February 12, 2012 5:07 am

Let the great Lin debate begin

 Gotta love the double standard... With Lin people feel the need to mention he scored 20 points, but missed 14 shots. Look at Kobe, a good game for him is only missing 14 shots. He went 11-29 the other night, I dont recall people mentioning he missed 18 shots. Lin is converting 53% from the field, which is ridiculous. So he's entitled to an off night. Kobe has nights like that regularly, and Kobe fans seem to think theres always a legit reason for it.

Since: Feb 1, 2009
Posted on: February 12, 2012 4:16 am

Let the great Lin debate begin

Please don't do this. I realize that you love to fuel the debate about Lin, but this is not fair. The guy has had 20+ points and is 5-0 in the last 5 games. He played the most minutes on the team for most of those 5 games. You're really going to discredit what he has done after he has ***ONE*** subpar game?

If you see how he looks during the end of most games, you will see that he usually doesn't miss a free throw or get careless until the 4th quarter. The fact of the matter is he still won the game with 20 pts and 8 ASSISTS (not rebounds). Even if he didn't put up his usual, isn't getting the Lin (Win) the only thing that matters? He made the go ahead free throw too!

Haters gonna hate.

Since: Feb 6, 2012
Posted on: February 12, 2012 3:42 am
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Since: Aug 24, 2006
Posted on: February 12, 2012 3:19 am

Let the great Lin debate begin

Lin IS the real deal. Maybe not a star but still a heady player who makes outstanding passes. And the way this team is set up, they needed a scoring point guard to make it work. He still seems to be a pass first kind of player. With Melo and Amar'e out, of course he forced some shots. He is still so new he missed on some passes. But what point guard does not miss some passes? And what player that is forced to lead a team in scoring does not force some shots?

For all the nuts with that Tebow crap, Lin can really play his sport the way it needs to be played.

There should be nothing polarizing about what Lin has done if you watch the damn games. Sure, like anyone who is new, teams will learn how to defend him better. But the passes he makes and the jumpers he hits were not flukes or luck. He has very good vision for a PG. Is he a great player who will keep putting up numbers like this, I doubt anyone can be sure and I think he will fall off somewhat. Is he a starter in the NBA? Hard to doubt that.

Anyone from anywhere on the planet can see he is ready for the NBA and should play for a long time. Tyson played with Jason Kidd last year and Lin seems to find him with passes just as often, if not more. Don't go too far with that line but Lin is good right now.

Small sample for far: Irving is great, Rubio is special passer and Lin is real deal. He has a long way to go but I like watching him play.

Since: May 14, 2007
Posted on: February 12, 2012 3:03 am

Let the great Lin debate begin

Remember how great the pick and roll was with Amare Stoudemire and Steve Nash back when they were teammates at Phoenix? The Knicks didn't have a true point guard until Jeremy Lin was finally dressed and got on the court. Guards Iman Shumpert and Toney Douglas were given the chance to play point gurad and failed miserably. Lin is the right guy. Pick and roll "reads" come naturally to him.

He will have his ups and downs but will be more consistent, especially when Stoudemire and Anthony are back. Why? Because assists are higher when you have good shooters like Carmelo and pick and roll players like Amare. He can make a living out of averaging 14 points and getting 7 assists.
Melo and Amare are not going to screw up what Lin's doing. He will make them better by getting them the ball when they are open. Court vision is one of Lin's strengths. Baron Davis who? Everyone knows Baron Davis is made of glass. He will be a bench player when he's finally healthy.

Lin will be fine and have a successful career. You have to give Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni for giving Lin the chance.

Since: Feb 10, 2009
Posted on: February 12, 2012 2:59 am

Let the great Lin debate begin

Jeremy Lin has scored more points in his first 4 starts than any other NBA player in recent history. He is definitely on pace to become an all star if he keeps this up. Lin did not have a very good game on Saturday, but I've seen Kobe, Nowitzki, etc... have bad shooting games also. At the very least, Jeremy Lin has shown that he is good enough to play in the NBA.

Since: Feb 9, 2007
Posted on: February 12, 2012 2:24 am

Let the great Lin debate begin

Lin is the real deal.  The biggest obstacle to his success is.....


Let's see if Melo can put his ego in check and play the game the way it's supposed to be played, selflessly, moving the ball within the team concept. 

Since: Feb 4, 2009
Posted on: February 12, 2012 1:52 am

Let the great Lin debate begin

4 great games, followed by one mixed game played after long flight, in a back-to-back, on road, after having played big minutes 4 games on a row after never playing any minutes, on a team missing its 2 best scorers. I really don't think this game somehow places his prior games legitimacy in doubt. I think he will flourish with Stat who works great w/good pgs. The affect of Melo's return on Linn is less certain, but one could argue it will 1)put less burden on Lin; 2)not fully take away his impact as the pg does have the ball first; 3)give Linn a great player to kick it to; and 4)considering how great the offense is working, Melo can't suddenly try to come in and be a total ball-stopper, right...? 

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