The strike-shortened 2011-2012 season began with lots of optimism for the New York Knicks. Starting the season with the formidable tandem of Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire, the Knicks were expected to be serious contenders. The signing of Tyson Chandler, which would provide much-needed defense and rebounding, appeared to be the icing on the cake. Such was not the case. The Knicks labored to an 8-15 start and were not in the playoff picture. The touted D’Antoni offense looked stagnant and inefficient, fans were calling for New York Knicks Head Coach Mike D’Antoni’s head, and Carmelo Anthony was injured and playing below his capabilities. Amar’e Stoudemire’s production had declined from his all-star performance last year. Toney Douglas was not able to maintain the starting point guard spot, and the Knicks were desperate trying to find reliable guard play. Iman Shumpert showed promise, but is a rookie, and was playing out of position. Mike Bibby’s age had caught up with him, and was a shadow of his former self. The team was basically waiting for the tenured, injury prone Baron Davis to come and save the season. This did not look too promising. So what happens? An undrafted, Asian-American from Harvard, who had bounced around three teams, and the NBA Developmental League, and who was the last man on the bench, goes on a five-game tear, and has brought life and promise back to the franchise and fan base.
So who is Jeremy Lin?
In his first major action versus the New Jersey Nets, the former Harvard point guard from Palo Alto, California, went for 25 points, and 7 assists. In his first start the following game against the Utah Jazz he scored 28 points with 8 assists. Then against the Washington Wizards he goes for 23 points and 10 assists. After these three games he caught national attention and was set for his first real test: a Friday night showdown at Madison Square Garden versus Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers. Lin was not going to sneak up on his opponent this time, so there was a lot to be told by his performance here. All he did was go for a Knick season-high 38 points, along with 7 assists, and outplayed Kobe Bryant, leading the Knicks to their fourth-straight victory with a 92-85 win over the Lakers. In his next game, Lin would have his worst shooting night versus the Minnesota Timberwolves but still managed a line of 20 points, 8 assists, and 6 rebounds, and he hit a clutch free throw in the end to give the Knicks the lead in a 100-98 win over the Timberwolves.
Linsanity has taken the NBA by storm, and has come just in the “knick” of time to turn around the Knick’s season. Lin has set an NBA record for most points in his first 4 starts with 109. Passing Allen Iverson, Shaquille O’Neal, and Michael Jordan. Not too shabby. These five games were played without the two stars Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire, making it all the more improbable.
So what is it that makes Jeremy Lin so effective?
Many say that he is a young Steve Nash, which is an understandable comparison. He has a high basketball IQ and great floor vision, to go along with deceptive quickness and speed. He has also shown to be a capable shooter so far. Lin is very crafty using the pick and roll, and utilizes effective change of pace/stop and go moves. He plays with a humble confidence, and makes his teammates better.
The Knicks now have life because of this young point guard. Everyone is eagerly awaiting the return of Anthony and Stoudemire to see how the team will look with them on board, and with Jeremy Lin running the show. If these three can co-exist, there’s no reason not to believe that the Knicks will make a deep playoff run. Instead of Lin driving and dishing out to Jared Jeffries for a jump shot, he’ll be hitting Carmelo Anthony. Instead of Billy Walker or Steve Novak trailing on fast breaks, it will be Amar’e Stoudemire. The bench will be strong with Jeffries, Novak and Walker having confidence now, and with Iman Shumpert being able to play off the ball and be focused on scoring, instead of having to run the team. The team can now be considered “deep” with tons of potential.
Yes it has only been five games, but this does not appear to be a fluke. The remarkable story of Jeremy Lin is for real, and the Knicks and their fans should be very excited.