Now that the hype surrounding Linsanity is at a fevered pitch with the play of Jeremy Lin leading the Knicks to five straight victories it is time to move past the hype to see what this guy is really all about. Below is a breakdown of Lin’s strengths and weaknesses as an NBA point guard.
Point Guard Mentality - This is Lin’s biggest asset and the reason that the Knicks are once again a contender in the Eastern Conference. Lin thinks like a point guard and operates Mike D’Antoni’s offense with the patience and flow that is necessary to make it work. If you don’t believe me take a look at the numbers. Since Lin started playing big minutes five games ago the Knicks are averaging 99.4 points per game compared to about 95 points per game when Lin was a benchwarmer. This offensive production has occurred largely without both Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony on the court. Lin’s point guard mentality is a skill that can’t be taught and if all else fails going forward this will be the one part of his game that won’t abandon him.
Knack For Getting To The Rim - Lin is not lightening fast or quick as the likes of Ty Lawson or John Wall but he has an uncanny ability of getting to the rim and either finishing or getting fouled. Teams have started to adjust to this by throwing double teams at him or making him go to his left but he still gets into the paint when he wants more often than not.
Defense – This is easily the most overlooked part of Lin’s game. All the attention has been focused on his offensive exploits but he is actually a good defender. He is averaging two steals per game over his last five games and has held his own against the likes of Deron Williams, Ricky Rubio and Wall.
Turnovers – Lin is a good passer but sometimes he tries to be too cute with his dishes, especially in the paint or off the pick and roll. As Lin gets more comfortable with his teammates he should get a better understanding of their capabilities and limitations. Expect the turnovers per game to drop from 4.6 to around three per game in the near future. This is still not great but palatable for the point guard position.
Athleticism – This is probably the biggest reason why Lin didn’t get a chance at the NBA level until Super Bowl weekend. He is not a great jumper and doesn’t wow you with his speed. You don’t need to be super athletic, however, to be successful in the NBA. Larry Bird and John Stockton couldn’t jump over a phone book but they are both considered all time greats.
Jump Shot – It’s not Rajon Rondo bad but it needs some work. While Lin actually has nice arc and good rotation on his shot, his form is not great and it takes him forever to release the ball. Luckily, a jump shot can be improved through practice. Given the fact that Lin was prepared to take the court despite having little hope of getting a chance to play I have no doubt that he will put the work in to make himself a better shooter.
The 76ers and Spurs have both started off great this season, each posting a 19-9 record through 28 games. Despite their hot starts I don’t consider either team a serious threat in the playoffs. The problem with the 76ers is that they are a great regular season team but a lousy playoff squad. They have the depth and young legs to make it through the 66 game grind but lack the go to guy to lean on in close, defensive minded playoff games. As for the Spurs, their problem is similar to the Sixers minus the young legs. In addition, they set a precedent last year as a fraud regular season team with a six game ouster in the first round against the Grizzlies despite winning 61 games and grabbing the top seed in the Western Conference.
Why has LeBron James become such an efficient scorer this year from the field? The answer is simple; he isn’t bailing out the defense by jacking up threes. James is shooting a sparkling 54.2 percent from the field this season while also attempting a career low 1.8 threes per game. Now getting the King to take the ball to the hole at the end of a tight playoff game is another story but if there ever was a year James dominates in the playoffs this will be it.
It’s too bad that this isn’t a regular 82 game season because if it was the Bobcats would have a great chance of winning less than nine games and setting the record for worst regular season record in NBA history currently held by the 1972-73 76ers. Charlotte is 3-24, has lost 14 in a row and is being outscored by a whopping 14.6 points per game. They also have one of the worst offensive teams ever assembled. They have scored more than 100 points exactly three times this year while failing to put up 80 points eight times. Isaiah Thomas gets a lot of flack for his regime as Knicks GM and rightfully so but Michael Jordan has been equally bad as an owner and “Managing Member of Basketball Operations” for the Bobcats since 2006. It doesn’t look like he’ll be getting better anytime soon.