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Enjoying the Jeremy Lin ride, which may get bumpy

Feb 9, 2012, 1:58 PM EDT

Jeremy Lin AP

We need to be honest — the three defenses that Jeremy Lin has carved up as the starting point guard for the Knicks are three terrible defenses. All three are in the bottom 10 in the league in defensive efficiency, and the best one (Utah) has slow bigs who are awful against quick guards — the pick-and-roll ball handler has burned them all season (29th in the league).

But so what?

You have to beat the team in front of you and Lin has done just that. He exploited his opponents’ weaknesses — that is how you win games in the NBA. The fact is Lin has gotten the Knicks three victories in a season where the Knicks drop these kinds of games by playing without passion.

Lin has passion, and that has made him fun to watch. Linsanity has ignited New York.

If you love the game, it’s hard not to have a smile on your face when you watch him play.

He is a cold beer on a hot day to Knicks fans — it doesn’t matter that he’s not a finely brewed, artisanal craft beer; he’s what the Knicks needed right now. He’s the first point guard they have that fits the Mike D’Antoni system. He plays smart and aggressively off the strong high pick that Tyson Chandler sets — Lin has a little Chris Paul-like hesitation off the pick then changes speeds as he gets to the elbow or into the lane. He reads the play incredibly well, and roll guys like Chandler are benefiting. Spot up guys are getting the ball with space and in rhythm.

In basketball circles, people keep expecting teams to figure Lin out soon. Check out this note from Michael Lee of the Washington Post talking about Wizards coach Randy Wittman.

After Lin finished with 23 points and a career-high 10 assists, Wizards Coach Randy Wittman had to absorb an equally painful text message from his son, Ryan, who played against Lin for four years in the Ivy League at Cornell.

“He told me that they did a much better job guarding him than we did tonight,” Wittman said with an uncomfortable chuckle. “Makes Dad feel good.”

Lin has been entertaining, but the book on him is growing and he is going to have to grow himself to keep this going. Pretty soon teams are going to go under those picks and give him an outside shot — he is shooting 9 percent from three this season and is not steady outside 16 feat. Lin doesn’t finish well with his left hand, smart teams will force him that way (although how long have we said Lamar Odom and Corey Maggette are one handed and they stuck).

It’s about adjustments and improvements. You see this in baseball — a young pitcher comes up from the minors midseason and has a handful of great games, until hitters have seen him a few times and they adjust and start smacking him around. Then it’s on the pitcher to adjust again.

Soon that will be on Lin. Defenses will adjust. What’s more, he’s going to have to adjust with the team on the floor when Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony return and start taking up possessions and shots.

Friday night against the Lakers is going to be fun — Derek Fisher isn’t going to stop him (or anyone else), but under Mike Brown the Lakers big men have been very aggressive showing out on pick-and-roll ball handlers. Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol are long and athletic (Gasol is a particularly good big in that situation) so this will be by far Lin’s biggest test.

That’s not to say that the ride is over (after Los Angeles it’s Minnesota then three more teams under .500), just that the road is about to get a lot bumpier.

Fasten your seatbelts Knicks fans, it’s going to be a bumpy night. And those can be the best rides of all.

  1. cakemixa - Feb 9, 2012 at 2:01 PM

    How many articles per day would you have about him if this guy didn’t play for NY?

    • redbullenergydrink - Feb 9, 2012 at 3:27 PM

      LOL. You bring up a very good question and the answer is NONE.

  2. niv21 - Feb 9, 2012 at 2:07 PM

    Lets be honest. He is our best penetrating point guard. He has speed, Athletism and court vision you can’t teach. He will be fine.

  3. SOBEIT - Feb 9, 2012 at 2:21 PM

    Lin might actually be better when Amare and Melo are on the floor consistently because he can focus on what he does best…dish the ball after he breaks down the D and opens lanes for his key offensive teammates to slash and score. And when defenders over commit to his passing lanes, Lin can just take the rock to the hole. Old school discipline and technique can still produce in this league. At the end of the day, this kid is having fun and savoring the opportunity. He appreciates the unique situation he has been given.

    Remember Nash and Amar’es pick and rolls…Lin could play that role with his style.

    • bknowledge - Feb 11, 2012 at 12:20 AM

      When 3 guys in starting line-up have an effective shooting range of 17 feet or less, the defense will have 3 guys within 15 feet of the basket. You can’t dribble penetrate when 3 defenders are surrounding the paint. And its almost impossible to get 2nd shots when the defense has 3 rebounders in the paint.

      Knicks offense is gonna get worse when Carmelo and Amare get back. We should trade one of them.

  4. makjak2 - Feb 9, 2012 at 2:35 PM

    I’m interested to see how he does against the Lakers with two 7 footers sitting in the middle. I liked the baseball analogy. Teams will start to force him to beat him from outside. He’s been fun as hell to watch as a Knicks fan but if he has a solid game against the Lakers I’ll be very impressed. However, I think he’s a smart enough player to continue contributing at a good clip. I was at the game last night, Wizards and knicks fans were both cheering for this guy. I definitely wish him the best

  5. ihatetoneydouglas - Feb 9, 2012 at 2:35 PM

    I like the kid.With that being said,I don’t care about his stats,I just want the Knicks to win.That certainly seems possible w/o Toney Douglas running the point

    • LPad - Feb 9, 2012 at 4:31 PM

      truer words have never been spoken

      still can’t believe they picked up his option

      • angryyankee - Feb 9, 2012 at 5:59 PM

        Stop, if nothing else, they could use the depth.

  6. metalhead65 - Feb 9, 2012 at 3:21 PM

    I don’t care about the knicks but how many times are you going to write the same article about Lin? every game he plays and they win it is followed by a article explaining how he can’t play or won’t last very long. who cares as long as they are winning? as has been pointed out they were not results before he started and if he flames out later so what? let him enjoy the ride while it lasts.

  7. leearmon - Feb 9, 2012 at 3:38 PM

    I actually somewhat agree with your overall point. Its too early to declare Jeremy Lin the next Steve Nash, however can we also take a look at what the young man has done?

    In consecutive games he’s outplayed Deron WIlliams, Devin Harris and John Wall. Say what you will about their interior defenses, the kid produced in the boxscore and in the win column. Do you think Jimmer Fredette or Brandon Knight would do the same? They’re lottery picks. And I find it quite funny that all of the so-called “experts” continue to bring up the defense argument, when they clearly have no idea about NBA defenses because they still say the Knicks defense is awful (BTW they’re 10th in defensive eff.)

    Finally, the notion that Lin’s numbers may drop with the return of STAT and Melo is a bit much. Melo could affect Lin’s play, but Stat? Lets be serious. Take a look at Raymond Felton. Before Ray made his move to NYC his career numbers were awful at best. Only hitting 15 TS% once, and having an AST% in the low 30’s. However in the 54 games with the Knicks Felton’s PER 17.3, and AST% 37.3. Yet once he left Mr. Pringles offense and STAT his numbers went back to the toilet. Overall what Im saying is the Jazz are a playoff team, and the Knicks beat them. John Wall is a #1 overall pick, Lin dominated him. Maybe Lin is the next John Starks, or maybe hes just the next flash in the pan. Lets just not rush to judgement either way.

  8. icu84bs - Feb 9, 2012 at 3:44 PM

    I remember pundits having reservations about about Steve Nash when he first entered the league and he has managed to hang around for a few years…

  9. LPad - Feb 9, 2012 at 4:30 PM

    Don’t get the he won’t play well with Melo and Amare mainly because he already played with them (1st half vs. the Celtics). In fact, he played so well that Van Gundy was wondering why he didn’t get any PT in the second half.

    Also, having Melo on one wing and Amare on the other will probably make things easier for him. There’s no way a defense is going to gear towards the Lin Chandler pick n roll with those two on the floor. And Lin will actually make things easier for Melo since he won’t have to play point forward and for Amare because he will get ball in his sweet spots on the floor and on the move.

    Yes, Lin probably won’t continue to put up HOF numbers, but he will probably shoot better than 9 pct from 3. Don’t understand why it’s hard to recognize he belongs in the league and probably be a good player.

    • bknowledge - Feb 11, 2012 at 12:11 AM

      Lin experiment is in trouble once Carmelo and Amare get back.
      When 3 players in the starting line-up have effective shooting range of 17 feet or less, the defense will have 3 defenders in paint/15 feet from basket (free throw line is 15 feet from backboard). Know what happens when 3 defenders are in paint?

      1) No dribble penetration in the paint. There’s no room.
      2) No second chance points. Offensive rebounds are very difficult to come by when the defense has 2 rebounders in paint.

      Amare and Carmelo are too similar. They are both virtually unstoppable from the elbow (Amare like the left elbow, and Carmelo prefers the right, but that doesn’t matter. They are still too similar). These two guys on the same team is like owning a ferrari and trying to make it faster by putting a lamborgini engine in the back seat.

      You might not believe me now, but a month from now when the offense is floundering, lets please trade Carmelo or Amare.

      I am a Knicks fan….

      • bknowledge - Feb 11, 2012 at 12:13 AM

        typos…ooops…
        Lin experiment is in trouble once Carmelo and Amare get back.
        When 3 players in the starting line-up have effective shooting range of 17 feet or less, the defense will have 3 defenders in paint/15 feet from basket (free throw line is 15 feet from backboard). Know what happens when 3 defenders are in paint?

        1) No dribble penetration in the paint. There’s no room.
        2) No second chance points. Offensive rebounds are very difficult to come by when the defense has 3 rebounders in paint.

        Amare and Carmelo are too similar. They are both virtually unstoppable from the elbow (Amare likes the left elbow, and Carmelo prefers the right, but that doesn’t matter. They are still too similar). These two guys on the same team is like owning a ferrari and trying to make it faster by putting a lamborgini engine in the back seat.

        You might not believe me now, but a month from now when the offense is floundering, lets please trade Carmelo or Amare.

        I am a Knicks fan….

  10. professoressadiesel - Feb 9, 2012 at 4:39 PM

    Wasn’t Shumpert the next big thing a short month ago??

    • clifford84 - Feb 9, 2012 at 6:00 PM

      Yup and guess what? Kid is really good.

      Don’t be jealous that whatever fan base you’re a part of doesn’t have 1/10th of the enthusiasm of the MSG crowd.

      • professoressadiesel - Feb 9, 2012 at 6:14 PM

        In case you don’t know how the game is played…the crowd doesn’t play or win the games.

        Who cares about the crowds enthusiam anyway? How many games has the MSG crowd won this year?

  11. cadub49er - Feb 9, 2012 at 5:10 PM

    If Kurt Helin doesn’t continue to write halfway decent articles, should we consider him a flash-in-the-pan blog writer?

    As one other person stated, Lin has gone up against Deron Williams, Devin Harris and John Wall and performed very well. He has also done it without Melo and Stoudamire.

    And since when did we care if Lin’s STATS would be worse when those guys came back? As an so-called expert, Kurt, shouldn’t it matter about winning? And if the Knicks start losing when Anthony and Stoudamire return, is it Lin’s fault, or is it that those guys aren’t good team players? A good point guard makes his team better as the floor general. He doesn’t need 20 points and 10 helpers each night to be a great guard. Lin’s stats are definitely going to go down upon the others’ return but it may be that Anthony and Stoudamire could use a little decrease in their stats to help the team overall.

    The knock on Lin when he did not get drafted was he wasn’t flashy enough, may be a step slow at the NBA level and needs to work on his outside shot. As his previous coaches said, so much of what Lin does is not in the box score. Court vision and making the right play at the right time are all part of that word, intangibles. Put Lin in a one on one matchup or three on three and he would probably not look as spectacular. But it’s five guys on the court and having a guy who can expose the other team’s weaknesses is what counts.

    Kurt, he probably won’t live up to what you want as an NBA star but so far, so good, and that is all you can ask.

    BTW, Kurt, did you see the Tim Hardaway crossover and slam against J. Wall…did you?

    • Kurt Helin - Feb 10, 2012 at 1:01 AM

      We ran the video of that slam. I saw that. I also saw no defender turn and stop him.

      • cadub49er - Feb 11, 2012 at 6:58 PM

        Kurt, that was probably because of Lin’s court awareness, quickness and vision that he had that play available to him. The court was pretty spread out with the pick coming way past the three point line. Though Lin is more of a team player, it was just a great individual move in that instance.

  12. jr9901 - Feb 9, 2012 at 5:11 PM

    It’s amazing to me how so many people can’t believe what their own eyes see. How some people need to keep hedging their conclusions. Are you that afraid of looking foolish? Too scared to say what’s actually obvious, just because it’s a little hard to believe? Ugh.

    Yeah, we know Lin will have to grow. Who doesn’t? We know there will be tougher times. Aren’t there always? Tell us something that is NOT extremely obvious, willya?

    What I see is yet another writer without the courage to say what his eyes are seeing. Lin has proven himself to be the real thing. And we don’t need a whole season or even better opponents to know that. He did it with his FIRST big game… if you were really looking. The skills he has shown in EACH of his last 3 games cannot be part of any fluke. I liken it to seeing a great painter, or a surgeon, working just ONCE. How many times do you need to see the same thing to understand that the painter can paint, the surgeon can do surgery? Once. Because some things are SO DIFFICULT to do well, that only an expert can do them. Even once.

    You talk about his passion like that’s the only thing he brings to the team. Amazing. Anybody can be passionate. Any decent player can have a great shooting night and score 30-40 points. Then fall off a cliff. But for a player to RUN A WHOLE TEAM, have the vision, the ball-handling, and the decision-making that Lin has displayed ever since Saturday’s game… that cannot be a 1-, 2-, or 3-hitter. It’s impossible.

    Bottom line: the kid has real, top-flight skills. He plays at the highest level, because that’s who he is. It’s obvious. Now let’s stop hemming and hawing and protecting our butts. And anyway… it’s safe now. The whole world already knows about Jeremy Lin. You can stop hiding.

  13. granadafan - Feb 9, 2012 at 6:17 PM

    I think the defenses are not taking him seriously because he’s a) a new guy and b) Asian. They jsut don’t get the respect of people on the court. I followed his career since high school and played with him in gyms a few times and he was telling people that guys always wanted to “cover the Asian guy”. Well, they looked quite foolish when he was smoking them as he continues to do right now at the highest level. We’ll see how consistent he is the next month or the rest of the season.

  14. ezwriter69 - Feb 9, 2012 at 9:54 PM

    As leearmon pointed out above:
    Devin Harris, John Wall, Deron Williams. Lin outplayed them all, head to head. ‘Nuff said.

  15. irvness21 - Feb 9, 2012 at 10:11 PM

    Leave the man alone… Whats your obsession with Lin?? He’s pretty good and if another PG has a better game than him on a certain night who cares… Whats the real deal? Did he turn u down for an interview or something?

  16. lemfax - Feb 10, 2012 at 4:00 AM

    I’m not a Knicks fan. But I love the new story. In basketball everything is constant and repeated. I really like to see this guy continually excel along with their team victory in his/their own passion…

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