Just when you thought the New York Knicks’ season was about to tank…
My hometown team has been one of basketball’s biggest disappointments in this lockout-shortened season. Although their defensive intensity has picked up tremendously (we can thank Tyson Chandler for that,) they’ve looked lost on offense. A team with as many offensive weapons as the Knicks have should be spacing the floor better, getting more open looks, and scoring more points. We can blame a good chunk of that on the team not having a proper, “A” or “B” grade point guard. Chauncey Billups was given up at the beginning of the season (and in light of Billups’ injury, that seems like it was a good move,) and Baron Davis is still recovering from injuries. So we’ve been left with Toney Douglas (ugh), Iman Shumpert (who was injured for the first several weeks of the season and is really a 2-guard anyway) and a radically faded Mike Bibby.
…and then came Jeremy Lin.
The undrafted point guard was claimed of waivers after the Houston Rockets let him go in December. Placed into a game against the New Jersey Nets, Lin went on to score 25 points, dished out seven assists and grabbed five boards. Coach Mike D’antoni immediately placed Lin in the starting lineup, and Lin put up 28 points and dished out eight assists in his first game as a starter. In the three games since, Lin has put up at least 20 points, including a 38 point effort in a gutsy win against the Los Angeles Lakers. Unsurprisingly, the Knicks have gone 5-0 during this stretch. Surprisingly, they’ve done this without Carmelo Anthony (who is out due to injury) and largely without Amar’e Stoudamire, who has missed several games due to bereavement. It’s been a huge shot in the arm for the struggling team, and has got to be the feel good story of the season.
As a Knicks fan dating back to the late Eighties, I’m excited to see the emergence of a bright new talent, particularly during a season that’s been pretty disappointing so far. In a post-”I’m taking my talents to South Beach” era in which most basketball players (hell, most professional athletes) are seen as selfish and entitled, it’s also heartwarming to see the likes of Kobe being shown up by an unassuming, humble dude who’s sleeping on his brother’s couch (I hope that’s a big couch). Living outside of New York (and not being rich enough to afford NBATV or League Pass or anything like that,) I have only seen bits and pieces of this phenomenon, but it’s also great to see how much his teammates appear to enjoy playing with him.
…and let’s face it, the fact that he appears to be the second Asian basketball player worth a damn has something to do with this hysteria as well, particularly in a market like New York…
Can Lin-sanity continue? Hard to say. The lineup will unquestionably be shaken up once Melo and Amar’e return to the lineup, and Lin’s starting spot will at the very least be challenged and will most likely be taken when Baron Davis returns. We don’t have very many fluke weeks in basketball, so it’s pretty likely that Lin will be the real deal, although folks will play him smarter as they get to know him and either his production will slow or he’ll figure out a way to adapt. He’s a Harvard grad-I’m thinking he can manage the latter.
What do you think the Knicks should do with their sudden embarrassment of riches?