After his outburst in the last three games for the Knicks , averaging nearly 25 points and 8 assists per contest one would ask how did teams miss on him? The NBA is a tough nut to crack when you don’t have a big reputation as a player especially coming from the Ivy League. It’s a league that is covered by the NBA , but not heavily invested with resources to break down. The NBA has in the neighborhood of 435 players in it, comprised of about 70 players that you could take or leave from season to season. You see a lot of turnover from spots 11-15 on an NBA roster as teams want to fill those spots with either young prospects, or veterans that can play sparingly in a pinch when injury or trades occur. Jeremy like a lot of players that never get their shot in the NBA just needed an opportunity and a coach that would instill confidence in him by letting him play through his mistakes. Just like a lot of players, Jeremy was very lucky. For the most part he wasted away on the Warriors bench as a rookie, although did average 18 points and 4 assists a game when assigned to their D League affiliate Reno in the 2010-2011 season.
I think many were waiting for Jeremy to be given his pink slip in Golden State, but hung on for the season averaging 2.9 points a game in 29 games of action for a very bad team. His D League stats in my opinion justified his existence on the end of an NBA bench. Even though the D League doesn’t give you the experience of playing against NBA players every night, the competition is at an above average level and he more than held his own. He wasn’t overmatched physically or athletically and put up great numbers, but most importantly he was a factor. So many players, especially young ones never can be a factor in games that count.
After watching him on film you can tell that Jeremy Lin is a very smart basketball player. He has a very high basketball IQ at the point guard position and understands how to break defenses down. Point guards come and go in the NBA year in and year out. The ones that stick are usually the ones that can run a team, score, or really guard people. Jeremy just understands where and when to give the ball to his teammates, a lost art with young players at his position. He plays the game slow and can change speeds enabling him to get in the lane when needed. The ability to change speeds is one of his best assets that allows him to open up the floor and find cutters, spot up players, and big men rolling to the rim. Defensively he holds his own. His 6’3 long armed frame enables him to take away space and get deflections. His understanding of the game plays to his advantage as he can anticipate off of the ball where opponents will throw lazy passes and get a hand on the ball. His biggest skill that he possesses is that he doesn’t fear anyone. The reality is he needs to differentiate himself and playing scared is not an option.
With all of his current success what level of player is he? There is a lot of Tim Tebow cult hype around Lin. I mean how couldn’t there be he is putting up huge numbers in one of the toughest cities in the world to play professional sports in. Ok now its time for a reality check I don’t think that Lin is an all star, and he is taking advantage of a few things. First off the Knicks are not a very good team right now. Besides Mike Bibby they really don’t have another player that can run their team besides maybe Toney Douglas but he’s not a point guard. Barron Davis is behind schedule on his rehab, making Jeremy really the only option. The Knicks play a system where they roll their big man to the rim on every pick and roll, sometimes running multiple pick and rolls in a possession. Jeremy’s ability to change speeds on pick and rolls and effectively use Tyson Chandlers ability to finish at the rim on lobs and pocket passes is a very big advantage. Many times he will have spot up shooters like Billy Walker and Steve Novak anxiously waiting for shots when their men help off of them to rotate to Lin. I think things will get better for him when Amare and Carmelo come back to the lineup giving him another energetic big that can roll hard on screen and rolls as well as another big-time scorer. Just another example of Lin being a victim of his situation, this time he will be on the good side of it and not the bad.
What can players at all levels learn about Lin’s current success? The first is the most important and that’s to actually learn how to play basketball. There are a million athletic players that can jump to the moon in basketball that never make it. Stop trying to be in And 1 Mix Tapes and start to understand how to actually run your team. Learn how to force 2 defenders to guard you with direct drives to the paint and find open teammates. Don’t play in one speed, you need to learn how to change speeds. The list goes on and on, but there is such a lack of smart basketball players in the game today and its sad. Understand there are probably 50 point guards that aren’t in the NBA that are more talented than Jeremy Lin. The problem is they have no idea how to play the game at his level. They lack the leadership and commitment to playing solid fundamental basketball to run a team. Lin understands what it takes mentally to work hard and prepare for every game. His work ethic is unmatched and he is a student of the game.
How good do I think Jeremy Lin is? I think he is very comparable to Goran Dragic from Houston. He is a big point guard that can run his team, get in the lane, and score . I think Jeremy is a smarter player than Goran, but I don’t think he can finish as well as Goran can. There are many players that never get an opportunity to be scouted and hyped to play in the NBA player. Jeremy won’t be the first or the last. Look at Jose Barea, Ramon Sessions, and even Ronnie Price. All players that scouts knocked for different reasons of what they couldn’t do. They continued to out work people and never paid attention to rankings and beat the system. Two have gone on to sign lucrative contracts in the NBA and the other has hung on for 6 years, which is 8 years longer than anyone ever thought he’d make the NBA. The most important thing that we all can learn from Jeremy Lin is never count anyone out, and never underestimate players with a high basketball IQ.
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