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: Dec 7, 2011
Posted on: February 12, 2012 10:12 pm

Let the great Lin debate begin

lin was a ray of hope for the knicks. when the selfish stars  get back, they will probably reaent lin shoot long jump shots, and the knicks will lose again. coach cant bench them.

Since: Dec 20, 2008
Posted on: February 12, 2012 9:44 pm

Let the great Lin debate begin

Anyone who's grouping or accusing Amare of being a Melo type player doesn't have a clue. Melo is the ballhog, Amare is a pleayer who's always thrived in a run and gun teamwork offense especially off the pick and roll. He was fine until Melo arrived and slowed down the ball.  

Melo is the big problem still, the jerk needs to be traded while he still has some value.  The difference between Lin and Melo as far as who is the better ball handler, just look at who shoots at a better %, who plays smarter, who's quicker, who passes... etc.  Lin wins all around.  

Since: Feb 12, 2012
Posted on: February 12, 2012 9:42 pm
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator

Since: Sep 24, 2006
Posted on: February 12, 2012 9:34 pm

Let the great Lin debate begin

Wow Ed you are an idiot

Since: Feb 6, 2007
Posted on: February 12, 2012 9:32 pm

Let the great Lin debate begin

I know it's a small sample (of an even smaller sample), but the first game that Lin got significant minutes, playing against the Nets, he scored 25 pts with most of them coming late in the game. That was with Melo and Stat in the game, and letting him do his thing with crowd chanting either "Jeremy" or "MVP". Pretty sure Melo and Stat heard that as they seemed more than willing to let Lin continue his forays to the basket, as many of his pts came in the paint...

Seeing in the Laker game him finally make some jumpers, it does look like Lin has a decent rotation on shot which may also mean he could move around the court and set up for some catch and shoot opportunities when a guy like Melo is doing the driving or running a play from the top of the key. I know people have reservations about Lin, Melo, and Stat having offensive chemistry to allow this work, but honestly I'm more worried about the team finding a functional replacement at PG to give Lin some minutes on the bench to avoid a possible injury or a drop off in overall play as he's been run ragged, lately...

Since: Dec 18, 2006
Posted on: February 12, 2012 9:32 pm

Let the great Lin debate begin

What I worry about in regards to Jeremy Lin (as an avid Knicks fan) is that if he continues to play this well he is going to earn himself a hefty contract, one that the Knicks will not be able to afford going forward. Maybe that's me looking way too far ahead but I hope he gives the Knicks a discount for giving him this opportunity.

I hope they can keep this going once Melo and Amare return and hopefully Carmelo learns to play off the ball so that the offense continues to to thrive the way it has the last 5 games. What a difference one week makes. Afetr the Knicks lost in Boston last week and fell to 8-15 I thought they were toast. Now after 5 straight wins since then, they have re-claimed a playoff spot. Let's keep it going Knicks!

Since: Sep 24, 2006
Posted on: February 12, 2012 9:31 pm

Let the great Lin debate begin

It's sad that people just post crap when they don't have a clue---Amara is not like that at all---remember he played with Nash and worked out just great---Carmelo yes he is like that

Since: Nov 13, 2008
Posted on: February 12, 2012 8:53 pm

Let the great Lin debate begin

It doesn't matter after Carmelo and Amare come back because he will be told to just give them the ball. Neither one of them know team basketball and all of these players finally getting minutes and helping the team are just going to ride the bench again.  You're linsane if you think this kid is going to run the offense when jock 1 and 2 come back.

Since: Feb 12, 2012
Posted on: February 12, 2012 8:29 pm

Let the great Lin debate begin

Is there a need for a debate? Knicks are 5-0 since he has been inserted into the lineup. The team is playing with energy and passion. They are winning and competitive! That is all the fans and the coaches will care about. I am not a Knicks fan but am cheering for him! Go Linsanity!

Since: Feb 18, 2011
Posted on: February 12, 2012 8:15 pm

Let the great Lin debate begin

If you fire D'Antoni, you might as well cut Lin. He seems to work perfectly in this offense.

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