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While Knicks struggle, back-up Jeremy Lin messes around and gets a triple-double in the D-League

Jan 21, 2012, 10:00 AM EDT

Jeremy Lin Reuters

The New York Knicks have been dealing with quite a few issues this season, some of which are related to injury, but it was succinctly summed up on Friday night when Knicks blog Posting and Toasting wrote that they would “rather eat a cactus than watch these Knicks.” If fans aren’t quite ready to start eating desert plantlife, the intermediary between the two is probably tuning in to watch the Knicks’ NBA Development League affiliate Erie BayHawks play. And, if and when that happens, the New York faithful might be treated to some surprising performances a la the one back-up point guard Jeremy Lin turned in on Friday night.

The Asian-American Lin has shown in limited minutes this season that  he probably isn’t the answer to the problems at the point guard position for the Knicks — and there are problems, Iman Shumpert fans — but that doesn’t mean the 23-year-old Harvard grad doesn’t have potential to someday be a rotational player at Madison Square Garden. In fact, Lin may have shown off a bit of that potential while making his Erie BayHawks debut on Friday night.

Lin messed around and got a triple-double while helping lead the Knicks-operated BayHawks to a victory over Morris Almond and the Maine Red Claws. The Knicks guard, on assignment with fellow end-of-the-bench Knickerbocker Jerome Jordan, played took full advantage of his 44 minutes and 22 seconds of playing time by scoring 28 points to go along with 12 assists and 11 rebounds in the 122-113 victory.

It wasn’t the stiffest competition, as most are wont to point out as soon as they see mention of the D-League, but consider the level of play around the D-League this season: the team Lin was facing, the Maine Red Claws, cut former 20-point-per-game-in-the-NBA scorer Ricky Davis earlier in the day after the 32-year-old averaged just eight points on 39 percent shooting through the first 11 games of his comeback season; Lin’s triple-double came on the same night that Sacramento Kings assignee struggled to a five-point, two-assist effort off the bench for the Reno Bighorns; and Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey recently said the talent of play in the D-League is the highest he’s ever witnessed.

Anyway, now that it’s clear that Lin isn’t going to put up a triple-double for the Knicks anytime soon and that he also wasn’t playing against the level of competition that I play with at the Bismarck YMCA, there are some bright spots that could come into play once Lin is called back up to the Knicks.

  • Jeremy Lin is better than Mike Bibby. This isn’t going out on much of a limb, but there has to be an advanced statistic available to prove that it’s true. Bibby is small, doesn’t rebound and has lost his shooting touch (the veteran point guard is shooting less than 40 percent from the field this season). If nothing else, the allure of potential being cooler than reality should be worth playing Lin over Bibby … right?
  • Lin’s out to prove that he’s more than a marketing tool. There was quite an uproar last season when Lin, an undrafted free agent, was given guaranteed money by the Golden State Warriors last season largely because he out-dueled John Wall in a Summer League game (and it didn’t hurt the marketing department that he had the large Asian-American population in the Bay Area hanging on his every move). The second-year pro was unable to stick with the Warriors out of training camp this season, however, and is now looking to prove that he has the game to back up the hype that surrounded him last season.
  • The kid can play. He was matched up against a vastly undersized Jerome Randle on Friday night, sure, but Randle was a prospect the experts at Draft Express fawned over prior to the 2010 NBA Draft. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Lin showed a quicker first step than his looks would indicate and an understanding of how to run the pick-and-roll (he and Jordan ran it beautifully a few times Friday night) on his way to the triple-double. He seems to have room for development, too, considering his basketball IQ and age are both acting in his favor.

If Lin’s able to keep building his confidence on Sunday afternoon — Maine moved the game from 5 p.m. to noon to avoid any conflicts with the New England Patriots’ playoff game, apparently — it would seem that the second-year pro deserves another shot at Mike D’Antoni’s rotation. Considering the Knicks are riding a five-game losing streak and have their fans wanting to eat cacti, it couldn’t hurt to infuse a bit of new blood — even if it is only to decide whether Lin is stuck right in the middle of ‘too good for the D-League but not good enough for the NBA’ or whether there’s actually a bit of ridiculous upside in his future.

  1. edmazeing1 - Jan 21, 2012 at 10:06 AM

    Hey scott you listen to Ice Cube? Good stuff man!!!

    • raidmagic - Jan 21, 2012 at 11:04 AM

      no doubt!! Loved the Ice Cube reference, today was a good

    • willardj - Jan 21, 2012 at 4:48 PM

      Literally every time someone gets a triple double, Stu Scott on ESPN will make that reference on SportsCenter

  2. dysraw1 - Jan 21, 2012 at 10:47 AM

    Weill thats the knicks for you. Ive seen some talented young people come through here ei. Nate Robinson , Anthony Randolph . an so on. but i dont remember the organization taking the time to make these guys game ready. in fact they still have not developed their starting two guard,and if Tony Douglas is not able to run things out there by now then he needs to go to the d-league to figure somethings out. By the way been watching Nate lately, and it really seems that Doc Rivers taught him to play lead. and i am sure that under coach Jackson he will only get better.

  3. boondocksaint224 - Jan 21, 2012 at 11:04 AM

    Get him on the court and he’s trouble.

    Some would also say that he freaked brothers every way like M.J.

    Good day.

    • bossmangunny - Jan 21, 2012 at 6:53 PM

      lol.Another good reference..The only way Jeremy Lin would get a triple double in the NBA was if he was playing against my beloved defensively challenged Knicks

  4. Art Rondeau - Jan 27, 2012 at 4:25 PM

    Great read, Scott. Lots of plusses to giving Lin some minutes. On top of everything you wrote, he’s great at stealing the ball, something that the Knicks can use more of. See “Quick Fix for Sick Knicks” (Roman numeral II) for additional ideas.

  5. jonnycknicks - Jan 29, 2012 at 1:49 AM

    Lin played 20 minutes tonight vs. Houston and led the Knicks in assists.

    Hey Knicks time to wake up and smell the freakin coffee. Notice that Toney Douglas and Iman Shumpert never run any of the plays to completion or fruition. After the 1st option (ie. 1st pass to post or wing) and if that doesn’t work out, they will inevitably designate themselves either the time of the 2nd or 3rd pass, these guys will designate themselves to finish the play or shoot the ball.

    LIN HAD 6 ASSISTS AND THIS IS THE FIRST GAME WITH ANY reasonable amount of playing time. Look Toney Douglas and Shumpert cannot play point guard. Mike Bibby can’t defend, can’t penetrate at all. Then Baron Davis plays no D. Your best point guard options are either Lin or Landry Fields. Fields has not lateral quickness.

    Lin has lots of lateral quickness. Notice he gets by people and yet he has a high dribble and does not have that super quick low to the ground power dribble ala Tim Hardaway and Stephon Marbury.

    Anyways, Lin if he can back this up with a few other games, he’s your only choice for PG if you really want a PG to play the position. Otherwise trade some pieces and get someone with more experience. But for now, they should see if he can get the job done. Maybe he can! I don’t want to be a Lin homer, or n… thugger.

    But Baron Davis plays no D! How can basketball, NBA basketball be a science with all these supposed gurus and you pay millions for people who play no D and that is half the game.

    Then, even my grandmother can watch Shumpert and Toney Douglas and figure out that they never run plays to complete. These two and Bibby too, they are designating themselves either the 2nd or 3rd option, by the time of the 2nd or 3rd pass.

    You essentially have a Knicks team that is not running any plays. They set up to run certain sets but they never do it. YOU CAN’T WIN BALL GAMES LIKE.

    At the very least if you play Lin 30 min per game, you always get defense, and you will get 8 assists per game and maybe 12 points per game. 8-12 assists is alot better than totally poisoned team chemistry with Shumpert and Fields.

    Remember the Marvin Gaye song, Mercy Mercy me, fish full of mercury… That is your team chemistry now. And you are waiting for Baron Davis?

    • hyca7316 - May 24, 2012 at 8:13 PM

      jonnycknicks: I’ve just come here by following a link posted on Wow, you are really a person with great vision. You seem to have seen it coming before the whole Linsanity thing exploded.

  6. jonnycknicks - Jan 30, 2012 at 2:45 PM

    In the previous comment, I didn’t mean Landry Fields, Fields is a team player all the way. I meant Shumpert and Toney Douglas.

  7. granadafan - Feb 15, 2012 at 2:14 PM

    Nice article. If only the Knicks would recognize what this kid, Jeremy Lin can do and give him a chance…. #Linsanity!

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