For the last few days I've grappled over which NBA topic to write about for my first entry at Sportsideo. This was quickly put to rest after watching everyone's new favorite Knick Jeremy Lin, or "Super Lintendo" (this is my favorite nickname so far), hang 38 points on the Los Angeles Lakers at Madison Square Garden Friday night.
Having grown up a Knicks fan - yes I'm admitting to homerism for my first story - I can't recall this much excitement around a Knicks player since David Stern rigged the ol' lottery ball in 1984 to land us a certain center from Georgetown. The fervor and excitement is that palpable. Every time he makes a play its pandomonium.
The question I keep asking though is does he deserve all the accolades being bestowed? Will Clyde Frazier break his own record of saying "swishing and dishing to the paint" 87 times a night? These are questions that need to be examined.
There's no disputing that as a starter Mr. Lin has scored more points, 89, than anyone has in their first 3 games since Isiah Thomas in 1983. Even if you acknowledge that the 3 opponents he faced prior to last night ranked 24th, 26th, and 29th in defensive efficiency, this is still a herculean effort from someone who had about as much prior success in the NBA as Madonna had with her acrobatic dancing at the Super Bowl halftime show.
Besides scoring, there are other things he does quite well. In Mike D'Anonti's offensive system, an effective pick-and-roll is imperative. Watching him run the high screen with Tyson Chandler is something that was sorely missing with Carmelo. He can split the defense with the best of them and also is very adept at hitting the curl man off of baseline screens. His pin-down screens, or soon to be known as "lin-downs", (yes I'm patenting that term) have helped free up sharpshooter Steve Novak on multiple occasions. These are all positives that are essential to a point guard's success.
His shot is a bit suspect, but watching him these last few nights has shown me the most important thing. He will not be Rondo-ed into submission. I expected his defenders to start staying under the screen on the pick-and-roll and force him to shoot a la a certain point guard from Boston. So far the results have been more than adequate, as he is shooting an insane 58% from the field.
Even with all the above, here is where a major doubt emerges. In about two weeks, a certain Knick whose name rhymes with Porcello will return to the lineup. I won't go into my scorn for this player, but needless to say he's not known for sharing the ball. What happens when this superstar returns and starts hoisting 25 footers 6 seconds into the shot clock? Will Lin and his 4 games of experience be able to reign him in and get Amare going at the same time? If this team resorts back to the motionless offense of yesteryear then Lin will become as expendable as Demi Moore's workout tapes.
Lin-Sanity may have taken over New York, and as a player I see a lot of great things to build upon. Obviously no one expects 25 points a night, but he can be an effective starter for a mid-level playoff team. However, the true test of his skill has yet to come. And for that reason alone, I'm holding off on my patent of "Lin-Down" until further notice....