Posted by Andrew Shi
It has now been over a week and a half since Jeremy Lin started for the New York Knicks and Linsanity has swept New York and the rest of the nation. Eight games after a win against the Nets, with only a small road bump against the New Orleans Hornets, Linspiration— (couldn't help myself)— is still on the rise.
The Knicks' Lin jerseys are selling out in high demand, and his face is on the front page of every website, and magazine. Since Lin started for the Knicks he has averaged 25 points, and 9.2 assists per game. He has become the face of the team and only with his help has it broke even with its win-loss record. The announcers at Knicks home games in Madison Square Garden are drowned out as the stadium roars "Lin" and "MVP," both in the same sentence. In the past nine games Lin has gone from zero to hero, from an unknown to a serious contender for the All-Star games.
It was Lin who carried the team to victory when Knicks' All-Star Carmelo Anthony left early in the Nets game with a groin injury and All-Star Amar'e Stoudemire was forced to go home soon afterward due to family matters.
However, critics of Lin have pointed to the fact that out of the first eight games he has started in, seven of them were against teams below .500, and the was other against the Los Angeles Lakers, a team that is not in its golden age anymore.
Sunday's game against the reigning champions, the Dallas Mavericks, put all of that doubt to rest though. An early Knicks lead faltered into a 10 point deficit until the fourth quarter when the Knicks rallied behind Lin. With a little over two minutes left into the fourth Lin drained a long shot over reigning Championship MVP Dirk Nowitzki to give the Knicks a five point lead. The Knicks went on to defeat the Mavericks 104-97 with Lin leading the Knicks with 28 points and 14 assists.
With this paramount win, what critic could now doubt the serious playoff Knick contention led by the 6 foot-'1 inch guard? And winning eight out of the past nine games, who could doubt the pattern that shows Lin continuing to dominate the courts? Apparently still a lot of people.
Critics now claim that Lin's Linfluence— (my apologies again)— was only a result of the absence of powerhouse small forward Carmelo Anthony, and that may be true. But when Anthony is expected to return on Monday against the same team that left him limping off the courts, not only critics raise the question of what will become of Lin.
Stoudemire is still slowly recovering from the tragic death of his brother, but his dominance which he has complacently shelved for Lin will only soon return. Anthony is infamous for taking over games and playing multiple positions, including Lins' and the recent acquisition of shooting guard J.R Smith only leaves Lin with less space to make big plays. This is not to even mention Knicks' Tyson Chandler, a former defensive player of the year and large factor in the Mavericks championship last year, as well as Baron Davis, who was initially intended to play Lin's position once his back healed. Yes there is a good argument that Lin will likely be pushed back to the margins.
With the numbers he's put up in the last nine games, though, and the even greater number of jerseys flying off shelves around the world, it is doubtful Lin will be returning to the bench.
He might not be averaging 25 points a game anymore, but perhaps that is a good thing. The Knicks do not need a Derrick Rose— ( Chicago Bull's MVP point guard)— who will dominate, but win the game. The Knicks need a Rajon Rondo (Celtics All-Star point guard). They need a point guard, deft and agile, who can dribble the ball up the court and make plays. After seeing numerous passes to shooting guards Landry Fields and Steve Novak at the sides and lobs to big man Chandler, it is clear that Lin is more than qualified to fill this role.
In fact, it might be best that his role be reduced to assist machine alone. Anthony is an All-Star for a reason, he's the man who can make the shots that only a select few can. Anthony though, was arguably also the reason the Knicks were way below .500, taking unnecessary shots that hit nothing but air. With Lin at point, he'll dish the ball out to the players that didn't touch the ball in the Anthony dominated days, and the Knicks will see better shots and more go in.
The Knicks, with so many new, high caliber players, have a lot of work to do to become the efficient, league leading, championship team that they certainly have the potential to be, but there is undoubtedly a spot for Lin there at the front. We won't be seeing Lin hitting 25 plus points a game anymore, but he'll still get his fair share, and the loss in points will only be reallocated to his assist stats.
The Knicks can only get better from here on out as long as Carmelo Anthony lets Lin do his job and make the plays that we know he can execute( Lin is a smart guy, after all he did go to Harvard). Make no mistake: with a powerhouse lineup and a depth in their bench to be envied, the Knicks will surprise the NBA in the playoffs and the Linsanity will continue.