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: May 1, 2009
Posted on: February 12, 2012 11:42 am

Let the great Lin debate begin

ALL players have those nights in the NBA.....heck, how many times does Bryant shoot 10 for 29, but end up with 25 - 30 points and everybody praises the guy. Hey....he didnt play well, but did enough to help the team win a game, on the porad, during a grueling stretch. Enough said.....and this is coming from a Celtic fan! 

Since: Feb 12, 2012
Posted on: February 12, 2012 11:41 am

Let the great Lin debate begin

Lin led the Knicks to their 5th win in a row without Melo and Amar'e, he has scored more than anbody in the history of the NBA in their first 5 starts, he is a huge underdog, had a rough game last night, but still got the win... sound like anybody?? i think he plays football for the Denver Broncos?? yeah Tim Tebow... If Lin can mesh well with Melo, Amar'e and Tyson when they're all healthy the Knicks are an explosive team.

Since: Oct 27, 2006
Posted on: February 12, 2012 11:40 am

Let the great Lin debate begin

is anyone going to ask the real question about jeremy lin?<br />that is how is it possible that a player that can burn kobe for 40 points and take a horrible knick team with no melo or amare a to a 5 game winning streak was riding the bench all year?  are we to believe he just became an above average nba player overnight?<br />  was he not showing the talent we have been seeing from him the past 2 weeks in practice? was d antoni watching him in practice ? or does lin only perform like an all star while playing the lakers and not the b squad during scrimmage.<br />there is alot more to this story and i feel it is larger than lin or the knicks. it is a racial divide in the nba where the black players  are assumex to be better players without earning their keep. and the white playees have to bust down doors or pray for an injury of family tradgedy as befell the knicks stars just to get a small oppurtunity.  its time we debate the reverse discriminarion in the nba. how many other jeremy lins are there that will never get an oppurtinity  becuase they are not black or do not have a tatoo on thier neck <br /><br />this should be a wakeup call to david stern<br /> 

Since: Dec 5, 2006
Posted on: February 12, 2012 11:40 am

Let the great Lin debate begin

There is no real debate here.  Jeremy Lin has worked his way into the starting PG position with his hard work and talent.  He has had a great week.  I would not expect that every week.  The most important thing is that the Knicks have found their guy at the position and when Amare Stoudamire and Carmelo Anthony return, that will do nothing but help him.  He has a great attitude and always puts the team first, even when reporters are trying to get him to talk about himself.  That is what you need at PG.  Not an elite player, but an unselfish and productive one.  He may be the glue that the Knicks needed to make a playoff run after an atrocious start to the season.  Other guys are coming up big in the absence of the Knicks two stars.  I have no doubt they will be a cohesive group once Melo and Amare return.  Thanks to Lin.

Since: Mar 17, 2008
Posted on: February 12, 2012 11:35 am

Let the great Lin debate begin

screw the metrics, it's whether you win or lose!

Since: Oct 18, 2007
Posted on: February 12, 2012 11:15 am

Let the great Lin debate begin

The Media should get the real blame here.  This isn't about Lin's stats or his 'rescue of a team' or being able to 'carry a team' for that matter.
It's about the underdog.

In a game filled with players who have15 year old IQ and tattoos covering their bodies, who drink and smoke and God knows what else, out of the shadows steps a clean cut, young and  focused young man who has embraced the critics in the largest city on the planet and arguably the toughest sports town to play in.
He talks about team, not himself.  He recognizes the fans and thanks them for their support.  Come on, even if you are not a NBA fan at heart, you have to like the kid and his fairy-tale story.

In a world where everything is so difficult and people struggle to get through every day, he's a ray a hope.

Time for the media to stop putting this type of spin on it and for the haters to recognize the story for what it's worth.  drink it up.  No one knows how long the story line will last, but given the negative stories through the years from brawls in stands with fans, to the lockout, to players being arrested for domestic battery and drug use, it's one of the most feel-good stories of the year.

Since: Jan 21, 2012
Posted on: February 12, 2012 11:07 am

Let the great Lin debate begin

Redsfan did you conduct an experiment to achieve those "numerical statistics" of yours? I didn't think so. Ok, the defensive intensity of some NBA teams is not at a high level all the time. We GET it. However, what does a bunch of tatoos, and a so called "gansta"( I guess you meant gangsta) vibe have to do with how Lin is evaluated. The TRUTH is, he has talent. It's kind of hard to make it to the NBA without it. I don't think a sample size of four starts is enough to make a concrete evaluation on ANY player. All I can say, without sounding biased, is Jeremy Lin is an exciting young player. I wish him continued sucess and prosperity in the NBA, no matter WHAT he LOOKS like. So, as far as him deserving a "shot"? As Clint Eastwood said in the movie Unforgiven, "Deserves got nothing to with it". But, I guess we BOTH want him to do well for very DIFFERENT reasons.

Since: Jan 3, 2008
Posted on: February 12, 2012 11:05 am

Let the great Lin debate begin

Give the kid a break. He's averaged nearly 40 minutes a game for 5 straight games and goes all out every minute he's on the court. He's young and full of energy and is going to make mistakes until he figures things out. All he needs is time and some guidance and he will be just fine. For all the naysayers out there, you and I have no idea what it takes to produce like he has every game and he is going to have an off game occasionally.

Since: Jan 31, 2008
Posted on: February 12, 2012 11:04 am

Let the great Lin debate begin, Shao Lin Master!

New York Basketball in now in the Hands of Our Shao Lin Master! See all these years , Ownership Thinks we needs a big name! but we just want to see Shao Lin Basketball! Which is team Basketball continuity among our players! Please Ownership build a winning team team and they will come! build a winning team and fans will pay! who the Master? Shao Lin! Please dont screw this up owners! Lin is playing like a SuperBowl Mvp with a 3 letter Name !

Since: Jan 16, 2009
Posted on: February 12, 2012 10:40 am

Let the great Lin debate begin

Some of the greatest players come from the most unexpected places. You already have the skills if you can make it to the NBA and it only takes the heart and drive to be the best from that point on.  I'm certainly not a Knicks fan but you have to be a fan of the way this is guy is playing.  He's like the Rudy of the NBA during a season marred by the greed of players and owners in the sports world today.  I hope this guy keeps delivering if not just to keep me interested in watching a great NBA story unfold this year.

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