I was bashed a bit last night on this same topic. Being the glutton for punishment I am as a writer, I figured why not let it continue or even add to the fire. Let me clarify one thing though, I am not writing this just to create buzz like some talking heads do. I undoubtedly believe my point, and simply want fans to realize the same.
If the Knicks want to succeed long term with Jeremy Lin at point, Lin needs to improve. What? “How the heck can he get better?” you ask. It’s because there is more to basketball than scoring or rooting for the underdog. A major factor in team success and winning championships is controlling the ball. That means players need to keep turnovers to a minimum.
In Lin’s five starts, he is averaging a jaw-dropping 6.0 turnovers per game. Even with his 44 assists in those games, Lin has 30 turnovers equating to a 1.47:1 assist to turnover ratio. As fun as watching Lin is, the turnovers will hinder the team’s chances to make a run at and in the playoffs. Don’t get me wrong, as a fan, I am enjoying the excitement and fun every night Lin plays. We just need to realize the impact of turnovers.
Since turnovers became a recordable statistic (1977-78 season), only six champions had a point guard with an assist to turnover ratio under 2.0. The lowest ever was Tony Parker with a 1.41:1 in the 2005 Finals, but which was also uncharacteristic of Parker as he had a 2.28:1 ratio in the regular season. Even with his rough playoff performance, Parker’s 3.09 turnovers per game was only the fourth worst all time with Isiah Thomas’ 3.60 per game leading the way in 1989-90.
That’s right; the all-time highest turnover rate is nearly half of what Lin is averaging as a starter. And not to further discount his rapid ascension to superstardom, but in the five starts, the opponents have yet to provide a true challenge. The Lakers are the only team over .500, and they have a point guard duo that would struggle to defend Isiah Thomas today. The five-game streak also included two of the worst teams in the league: Toronto and Washington. To put it plainly, the strength of opponent has been on the weak side and it’s going to get much tougher once New York plays the top teams in the East. Plus, as teams get more tape on Lin (Kobe Bryant wasn’t even aware of his success when LA played New York), the turnover issue will be a target for opposing teams.
Again, the “Linsanity” is fun, entertaining and a great story about a “kid from nowhere” finding success. However, a level of “sanity” needs to come to the table about the future potential of Lin and the Knicks.
In addition to covering the NFL, MLB, NBA, and College Football for RotoExperts, Jake Ciely (a.k.a "All In Kid") is also a poker fiend and a Maharishi in the world of sports wagering. Jake was a finalist for the FSWA's 2010 Newcomer of the Year award. You may email Jake @ firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @JakeAllinCiely