Enough “Linsanity” Already!

by

 Norris Cole #30 Of The Miami Heat Guards

It was fun while it lasted.

The Jeremy Lin story, which has captivated the sports media, the Twittersphere and the Worldwide Web over the past several weeks, came to a screeching halt last night as the Miami Heat gave “Linsanity” and his followers a much-needed dose of reality.

Lin’s final line – 8 points on 1-11 shooting, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 8 turnovers in a 102-88 loss by the New York Knicks to the Miami Heat in a game that was much more lopsided than the score indicates.

As has been well-documented during his rags-to-riches story, Lin overcame long odds to even make an NBA squad this season.  He’s Asian-American, an Ivy-Leaguer and by all accounts a very articulate, engaging young player in a “me-first” league… an NBA marketing dream for both domestic and international basketball markets.  To his credit, Lin was given an opportunity to play at the highest level and he seized his moment on an incredible run, turning his team from a pretender into a potential contender in under a month.  What’s not to love here?

The reality is – similar to rookie pitchers in Major League Baseball – it was only a matter of time before the book was written on how to stop Jeremy Lin.  Don’t get me wrong – Jeremy Lin is a nice player who will carve out a niche in the NBA as a score-first option at guard.  As we learned last night, the second coming of Isiah Thomas he is not.       

Miami recognized going into this game that Lin is not a natural point guard.  Miami chose to pressure Lin end-to-end last night with their own point guards – Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole – which resulted in Lin’s pocket getting picked several times as he tried bringing the ball up the court, leading to easy buckets for Miami.

Also, for a starting point guard in the best basketball league on the planet, Lin has a lot of trouble dribbling with his left hand and tried masking his ball handling deficiencies by bringing the ball up the majority of the time on the left half of the floor, leaving lots of room on the right for driving to the basket. Miami recognized this early and began trapping Lin on the left half of the floor as he crossed the half-court line, forcing more turnovers and creating more easy buckets for the Heat.

In the NBA, against some of the best athletes in the world, point guards need to possess at least one of three skills in order to be successful – size, quickness or dribbling ability, often referred to as “handle”.  Lin – who is just shy of 6’3” – has average size and quickness and a below-average handle for an NBA point guard.

Lin played two-guard (or “shooting guard”) at Harvard so the point guard position is one he is still learning.  Unfortunately, he has been pigeonholed at the point simply because he doesn’t have the size to play the two-guard in the NBA against the likes of other two-guards like Dwayne Wade (6’4”) and Kobe Bryant (6’6”) where Lin’s lack of size and defensive shortcomings would be easily exploited.

As we’ve seen over these past few weeks, turnovers have been a major problem for Lin since he began receiving starter’s minutes at the point.  However, this has been largely been overshadowed by Lin’s scoring ability and the Knickerbockers winning games.

I don’t care if you’re Isiah Thomas or Isiah Rider – when you’re averaging nearly 6 turnovers a game playing the point, it’s not a recipe for successful teams in the NBA and normally doesn’t lead to job security as a starting point guard.

While Lin has some major deficiencies to his game, he also has plenty of skill.  Along with his ability to score the rock, Lin is blessed with exceptional court vision – Lin is averaging 8.6 assists per game since he began receiving starter’s minutes with most coming while the Knicks two best scorers (Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire) were inactive with injuries.

For all the faults Lin currently has as a point guard, he is a very young player and there is still plenty of time for him to develop his talents and become, in my view, a middle-of-the-road starting point guard in the NBA.  As we’ve seen, your team can win in the NBA with Lin as your starting point guard.  It’s been the #1 story of the 2012 NBA season going into All-Star Weekend; but if you’re looking for this story to end with “Linsanity” becoming an all-time great… that’s insanity.

Photo courtesy of Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

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8 Responses to “Enough “Linsanity” Already!”

  1. Trev Says:

    Excellent analysis JB. Couple things though: although he does have avg quickness, his first step is above-avg; and he played both guard spots in college.

    I think he will be a bit better than middle of the road PG. I’m glad you didnt call him a system player, bc thats horseshit. Dude can play.

  2. JM Says:

    I am sick of it as well but I will say the number one skill to be a PG at any level including the NBA is court vision and the kid as that. The best two pg of this generation, Stockton and Kidd, where neither supper big, super quick or did they have handles like “Skip to my Lou”. But they both could see the court and I think that is LIn strength.

  3. Mojah Fukweh Says:

    Great way to end it

  4. Christopher Says:

    The head coach of the Knicks is D’Antoni. Who made D’Antoni important in the NBA??? Steve Nash, our South-African/Candien friend.
    Hang 10? or Hang Lin?

    Similar situation, but Lin is smarter, less talented with a team that D’Antoni is running, relying on a guard to run the team. Only difference is Lin is smarter than the Canadien Nash. Not as experienced, and not as talented yet–but the world is his NY Slice of Pie.

    Can’t root against him. He is making the NBA relevant again. Unlike a Tebow, Lin is relevant with race, religion, and the biggest city in the USA.

  5. Trev Says:

    JM I would take the Glove over Stockton

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