Does a Bad Performance vs. Heat Mean that Knicks' Jeremy Lin is Horrible Now?


The numbers were ugly: 1/11, 8 points. 8 turnovers.

Jeremy Lin had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad game against the Miami Heat last week. After this horror show Lin’s averages as a starter plummeted to a pedestrian 22.4 ppg, 8.8 assists, on 47.3% shooting, and yes, 6.1 turnovers per game. So let’s all throw him under the bus and conclude that he’s half-baked, or worse, some kind of sham. After all, wasn’t this the theme of TNT’s “Hype or Substance” broadcast right from the start?

None of us can legitimately claim to know what Jeremy Lin’s career will develop into. Some, like John Hollinger (Insider) (Isiah Thomas, Kevin Johnson, Russell Westbrook), Carl Bialik (John Stockton, Chris Paul, Steve Nash), and Jamie O’Grady (Jason Kidd) have attempted to carve comparisons based on statistical analyses of the early careers of players who have put up lofty numbers similar to Lin’s.

I don’t think one game changes those analyses. But the thirst for instant reaction that led to the unprecedented hype that Lin received is also responsible for a frothing desire to bring him down a peg or two. In the age of Twitter there is no “long view”. But I’ll attempt to forge one anyway by providing context to this frothing desire.

Here it is.

I ran a search using Basketball-Reference‘s Game Finder tool to find games played by players aged 18-22, as starters, in which the player compiled at least 5 turnovers and shot less than 25% from the field:

  • In his 42nd career start, Dwayne Wade shot 0/7 and had 5 turnovers.
  • In his 37th career start, Ray Allen shot 1/9 and had 5 turnovers.
  • In his 17th career start, Allen Iverson shot 2/17 and had 6 turnovers.
  • In his 44th career start, Mark Jackson shot 2/13 and had 7 turnovers.
  • In his 60th career start, Brandon Jennings shot 2/12 and had 6 turnovers.
  • In his 3rd career start, Chauncey Billups shot 1/5 and had 7 turnovers.
  • In his 24th career start, Jason Kidd shot 2/10 and had 6 turnovers.

In almost all of these examples, the player in question had even more experience running the show as a starter than Lin has now. These kinds of games happen to young players, especially young guards who are asked to handle the ball a lot (and Lin is 5th in the entire NBA in usage rate).

Believe me this won’t be Lin’s last bad game as a starter. In fact, even well into their careers, it’s not uncommon for young ball handling guards to have a stray bad game:

  • In his second year as a starter, Stephon Marbury had a 4/17, 8 TO game, and a 0/8, 7 TO game.
  • In his second year as a starter, Kidd had 4/16, 7 TO game, a 2/12, 7 TO game, and a 4/16, 6 TO game.
  • In his second year as a starter, Chris Paul had a 2/11, 5 TO game, and a 3/17, 5 TO game.

Should I even mention Russell Westbrook?

My point here is not to suggest that Lin has carved a career path that merits his being discussed with the luminaries I’ve used as examples here. My point is that the Knicks’ promising young point guard had a bad game against a historically good defense. Read into that what you will. I read into it nothing.

Get more great Knicks analysis over at KnicksFan.


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