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: Sep 7, 2006
Posted on: February 13, 2012 9:19 am

Let the great Lin debate begin

GoldenBoy- Gee, let's see...somebody who unnecessarily compares Jeremy Lin to George Bush and Tim Tebow in an attempt to undercut him.  Let me take a gigantic leap also love Hybrid cars, Universal Health Insurance, Wealth Redistribution.  Furthermore, you hate Christmas, Corporations and Private Schools.   Way to stay objective, clown.

Since: Aug 9, 2009
Posted on: February 13, 2012 8:18 am

Let the great Lin debate begin

You know a large majority of the public hate feel good stories if the guy wasn't a former criminal or something.  Most can accept if he's a better athlete but if he's a better person and athlete they cannot stomach to root for him out of jealousy.

Since: Nov 9, 2011
Posted on: February 13, 2012 7:30 am

Let the great Lin debate begin

@JustGottaSay.... Umm George W. Bush graduated Yale and Havard business school and nobody confuses him with a brilliant academic. Tebow and Lin's sucess have to do with the systems their in and in Tebow's case the defense improving their play late in the season. Timmy is a great athlete, nobody questions that it's his ability to be a QB that is. BTW there are numerous stories about guys overcoming great odds to live out their dreams. Let's settle down gentlemen

Since: Feb 11, 2012
Posted on: February 13, 2012 4:53 am
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Since: Dec 20, 2008
Posted on: February 13, 2012 1:50 am

Let the great Lin debate begin

Not only does Melo have absolutely NO transition game whatsoever, but he's not even really that good at his so called specialty, as an iso scorer. Even when you let him have the ball and play his way, he still shoots at an aweful % most of the time and needs 2-3 more shot attempts than anyone else on the court to get a high point total. The guy is a fraud and it's truly shocking the media has gotten away with this fake Melo hype for so long. 

Since: Jan 4, 2011
Posted on: February 13, 2012 1:37 am

Let the great Lin debate begin

Cool story. But let's wait maybe 20 games before we make it into something cosmic.

Since: Sep 4, 2006
Posted on: February 13, 2012 1:15 am

Let the great Lin debate begin

First debate question, Lin who? Five decent games in a row, and only one great one against the Lakers and this is the next Michael Jordan? In three of those games he had 20 turnovers.  I didn't know who Lin was until he played my Timberwolves, and I still don't know who Lin is.  Never heard so much hype for a guy that will probably average 20 points, 3 rebounds, 7 assists and 6 turnovers a game.

Since: Oct 1, 2006
Posted on: February 13, 2012 12:23 am

Let the great Lin debate begin

100% CORRECT!  These "reporters" are simply trying to stir the pot.  Can we wait to see how they play first!Undecided

Since: Sep 7, 2006
Posted on: February 13, 2012 12:16 am


I hear all this Lebron bashing and Kobe bashing.  It's ridiculous. Those guys have earned respect. Carmelo has done essentially nothing. He ruins the entire flow of the game by holding the ball. He dominates every aspect of the game and turns it into his personal one on one struggle. He's about as selfish as one could be on the basketball court...yet nobody ever seems to badmouth Melo.

He will ruin this nice story about Jeremy Lin and the Knicks.  He's like Iverson.  You can't play with him. He has to dominate the ball. He doesn't make others around him better.  He may be a fantastic individual talent, but you can't win with guys like Carmelo.  I think Amare can mesh...but Carmelo, no chance.

Since: Dec 30, 2009
Posted on: February 12, 2012 11:12 pm
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