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: Jan 6, 2009
Posted on: February 12, 2012 3:14 pm

Let the great Lin debate begin

Frankly who cares,Lin has injected some energy,some charisma into a liveless,boring team.Jeffries,Fields,Chandler  play their butts off night in and night out Carmelo is a waste of talent,Amare is always hurt.Knicks shoild be smart .How about Howard and Anderson for Carmelo,Amare and a couple of late round picks. The Nba needs the New York Market.Since Reed,Frazier,Pearl,this has been one of the most boring teams in the NBA.....Enjoy Lin,even if it does not last...

Since: Dec 10, 2006
Posted on: February 12, 2012 2:55 pm

Let the great Lin debate begin

Time will tell.

It is a great story and Lin has been fantastic but let's see how he does once teams watch his film and adjust. Is he Nashlike or just a flash in the pan?

Time will tell.

Since: Apr 2, 2007
Posted on: February 12, 2012 2:52 pm

Let the great Lin debate begin

It wasn't a coincidence that the Nuggets got better last year when Mello got traded, and it's no coincidence that the Knicks got better when Mello got hurt. If the Knicks could trade him for a couple of good players they would be crazy not too. He makes everyone on the team worse with his ball stopping style. Sure he can score a lot of points, but he plays no D, and kills the flow of any offense. I think Amare will benefit greatly from playing with Lin. Lin draws so much attention from the defense that Amare should be able to get all kinds of dunks and put backs.

Since: Sep 4, 2006
Posted on: February 12, 2012 2:31 pm

Let the great Lin debate begin

I am not a Knicks' fan by any stretch of the emagination, but Jeremy Lin has the "IT" factor all over him. He understands that being talented without selfishness can work on a dysfunctional team. 'Melo' is one of the most talented scorers in the NBA and the most selfish. Trade 'Melo' as soon as possible and you rid yourself of a cancer. The team can survive Stoudemire, he doesn't mind playing Robin. Lin is the glue, or chemistry, that the Knicks need. His unselfish play permeates throughout the team and the players like his attitude. He will be a legitimate star in this league because he improves the play of his team. Quit thinking that any superstar can greatly improve a team. A true point guard is what improves a team, not a great scorer. Let's see how intelligent the top brass is in the Knicks' organization over the next couple of weeks. A blockbuster trade is within reach if they trade 'Melo' and get another complimentary star player. 

Since: Nov 20, 2007
Posted on: February 12, 2012 2:23 pm

Let the great Lin debate begin

This still seems like a lot of hype. I think any NBA player can have a really good stretch of games. Lin is having that stretch in his first few starts, which is not typical. It'll average out in time. 

Since: Feb 6, 2007
Posted on: February 12, 2012 2:21 pm

Let the great Lin debate begin

In the comparison to the Nash/Amare led Suns that were very successful, if you chose to call Lin at this point a poor man's
Steve Nash, I would call Carmelo Anthony a rich man's Shawn Marion, who also excelled in D' Antoni's system back then. I really feel that Anthony will pick his spots to help carry the scoring load, while still playing well in the system and disrupting their current offensive chemistry...

I think the emergence of Lin has also helped Shumpert, who no longer has to worry about running the offense from the point nearly as much. Also, I think Steve Novak has carved out a role for this team as a quality catch-and shoot perimeter player for the rest of the season...

In reference to Baron Davis, I am hoping he can and will accept/thrive in a back-up pg role if/when he's healthy enough to return..

Since: Nov 1, 2010
Posted on: February 12, 2012 1:59 pm

Let the great Lin debate begin

Give me break dude, anyone with a decent NBA IQ knows the Knicks are much better than their record, they were underachieving and you know it!

Since: Nov 1, 2010
Posted on: February 12, 2012 1:58 pm

Let the great Lin debate begin

Not giving up this kid for Nash, he's 23 with a ton of upside. He's impressive but raw right now. Will only get better. I would focus on other areas.

Since: Nov 12, 2011
Posted on: February 12, 2012 1:55 pm

Let the great Lin debate begin

Pretty sure the Knicks are the most talked about 13-15 team ever.

Since: Nov 19, 2006
Posted on: February 12, 2012 1:13 pm

Let the great Lin debate begin

your nuts    give up give up 3 useful pieces for nash who can u get next yr if needed as afree agent ?      its the carmelo trade all over again     

make a trade when team is cohesive and give away your entire depth     
I'm nuts?.......The Knicks are the ones who made the Carmello trade not me. You say it as if the Knicks are above making another trade just like it.Steve Nash has been the only one to run a Mike D'antoni coached team the way it's supposed to be you really think that you'll get past the likes of the Heat and the Bulls with an inexperienced free agent point gaurd who has yet to play with the actual starting five or with any playoff experience?....Lin is not Derrick Rose. FYI.....your team is NOT cohesive dude, what will it look like when Stat and Melo return with there 45 attempts per game? I'm just sayin teams that are cohesive don't have the Knicks record.

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