(Long Island, N.Y.) It’s been a while since the New York Knicks have had a dangerous point guard. Stephon Marbury certainly underachieved while playing in his hometown and Charlie Ward was a nice player, but was not viewed as someone opponents had to shut down. Perhaps you would have to go back as far as the days of Derek Harper, but even he was possibly losing a step by the time he was acquired.
So seeing Jeremy Lin take on all comers and doing damage is a sight for sore eyes. The former D-Leaguer has made the best of a golden opportunity on a team that had point guard issues and was also in need of a spark. Rookie Iman Shumpert and veteran Mike Bibby have not been the answer and fellow vet Baron Davis has been on the shelf all season with an injury. So Lin was biding his time until given the chance and has excelled in head coach Mike D’Antoni’s system.
While the quintessential ‘one’ player on the court is employed with the job of setting up the other four men, the Knicks’ offensive scheme is one that allows the point guard to be a pivotal part of the offense – passing and shooting. Such was the case on Tuesday evening in Toronto, when Lin had the ball at the top of the key with 13 seconds remaining in a tie game.
He could have worked the ball inside via dribble or pass but decided to let the clock go down for a final shot – without even leaving time for a second shot off a rebound in case of a miss. That’s called confidence, something that Lin has shown from the get-go in this amazing run.
Once Ivan Calderon of the Raptors gave him the slightest amount of room, Lin pulled up and drained a three-point jumper with five-tenths of a second left. The Knicks (14-15) had won their sixth consecutive game and a city that had already been Lin crazy had more reason to keep the dream going.
“I’m thankful that the coach and my teammates trust me with the ball at the end of the game,” Lin told reporters. “I like having it at the end of the game. I’m just very thankful.”
In five games as a starter, Lin has averaged 27.2 points and 8.8 assists per game and is also shooting 50.0 percent. These gaudy numbers will eventually go down, especially once Carmelo Anthony returns. The ball will be spread around to Anthony (the team’s top scoring option), A’Mare Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler. If Lin can remain a scoring threat and still get the ball in his teammate’s hands, he will remain a productive player and one that can hold onto the starting spot the rest of the way.
This Cinderella story may be taking center stage right now, but reality will set in sooner or later. That does not mean that Lin will fade away. Quite the contrary; he should become the type of point guard that can average 15 points and 10 assists a night.
And all of us – including Lin- would have signed up for that even as recent as two weeks ago.