Per 36 Minutes:
There’s been plenty of ink on Jeremy Lin’s tremendous story. His rags to riches transformation. His Asian-American identity. His game winning magic. His national star power. His “demise”. His season-ending injury. And finally his contract debacle and exodus from New York. Heck even yours truly, along with a bunch of other Knickeristas, wrote a book on the dramatic aspects of Lin & the 2012 Knicks (coming soon).
So what else is left to write? How about a look into Lin the player? What does his 2012 season say about him & what can we expect from him as a player in the future? You know, analysis.
The first area to check out is his shooting. Lin’s 55.2% ts% was quite impressive given his youth and inexperience. Yet, shooting efficiency between seasons, especially ones just under a 1000 minutes, can be volatile. However, it’s probably just as likely that he hits that number again as much as he drops to 52.5% (which coincidentally would tie a season high for Raymond Felton). Lin’s three point shooting (32.0%) is sub-par, but that’s never bothered me as an analyst. Players can seemingly improve on their downtown rate, with a few exceptions.
A look at his shooting chart reveals that Lin took nearly a third of his shots from point blank, and a quarter from within 9 feet. That’s a good sign for his growth since it will persist for as long as he has his athleticism. Another element of his true shooting percentage that isn’t likely to drop precipitously is his ability to get quiet time with the basket. Lin averaged one free throw for every two attempts. It’s a phenomenal rate that was best on the team. His stats affirm what our eyes already suspect about Lin: he’s best at breaking down defenders, slashing towards the basket, finishing at the cup, and drawing a whistle along the way.
Being a point guard, Lin’s 8.3 ast/36 shows he’s able to find the open man and get everyone involved. On the other hand his 4.8 to/36 reveals he’s a bit sloppy with the ball. It’s hard to be successful with upwards of 4 oopsies per 3 quarters. And if anything holds Lin back as a player it’ll likely be this weakness.
I always thought Lin to a pretty good defender at his position. He’s agile and has the size to handle larger guards. Even if Lin is merely average at keeping his guy in front of him & fighting through screens, his 2.1 stl/36 should make up for some of those deficiencies. Throw in his 4.1 reb/36 and I think he contributes more on defense than the average point guard.
Put it all together and what do you get?
If you assume that Lin will improve a bit on his turnovers and three point shooting, and retain the rest of his attributes, then he’s a top 10 point guard. If he does that and tosses a few more baskets through nets, then he’s an All Star by the last season of his current contract. If 2012 was just a fluke, and his shooting drops while his turnovers remain a problem, then he’s just another point guard that got hot for a dozen or so games.
Of those three options the one I find hardest to envision is the last. Lin is only 24 years old, and just about everything in his history supports him being successful in the N.B.A. His college career. His dismantling of John Wall in summer league. His strong D-League play. And of course Linsanity. Usually I’m the pessimistic kind when it comes to athletes with “potential” (like this stud-muffin). However with #17 I feel like we have been burned enough betting against him, that it’s time to put some chips on the other side of the line.
J-Lin may be gone to Houston, and he’s not likely to turn that team around single-handedly, which in turn might lead to some backlash given the media hysterics that may follow him there. I won’t root for him because I want it to be an “I told you so” to James Dolan’s bass-ackwards thought process. I won’t root for him because he turned my kids onto basketball so much that they would recognize him or his jersey wherever they went. I won’t root for him because I want the stat guy to get one over on the rest of the league. I’ll root for him because as an analyst I think he’ll succeed, beyond what the fearful part of my brain is saying.
Fare thee well, Jeremy. Can’t wait to have you back on the 2027 Knicks.
Grades (5 point scale):
Rootability: Chesley Sullenberger
Performance/Expectations: Menage a Trois
Final Grade: God Particle