16 February 2012

Calm down people

It's New York, therefore people go crazy when someone is perceived as successful.

I shall throw some buckets for now and await more data. Some will be lukewarm. Others icy.
1) Lin's Turnover rate is absurdly high. One can assume that perhaps this will come down as Carmelo gets more usage and thus more turnovers instead, but it's not right now looking like point guard material. And Melo turns it over a lot less anyway. It's possible the style encourages more risky passing play as Nash's TO rate numbers are also generally high.

2) He does have the statistical advantage of playing in D'Antonio's system. Which inflates a lot of these numbers. To his credit, his assist rates are very high. But we should be looking at Knicks stats because of pace effects as something like "Colorado Rockies hitters during the 1990s", with a significant downward curve.

3) They have not played a good defensive team, or at least a good defensive team with a point guard since this tear began. Fisher's been washed up defensively for almost a decade and survives on those stupid charging calls that he gets for flopping, and the Lakers, predictably, force almost no turnovers (except when Lin showed up with 6). You could argue Rubio or Williams should have been able to handle him, but Deron's never been much good on defense and in any case Lin came off the bench against the Nets. Rubio's a rookie on an otherwise bad team, and Lin still had 8 turnovers against the Wolves. The rest was done against Washington (one of the worst defensive teams in the league), Toronto (probably the worst man to man), Sacramento (again...), Utah (a pattern developing here?).

The biggest issue with the NBA, especially this year, is who you're doing this against. As the 76ers gaudy record can attest, the Knicks are right there with them on ease of schedule. People, by which we mean the media, made a big deal out of it because the Lakers were involved in this streak, but more or less ignored that a) the Lakers aren't particularly great this year and b) have Derek Fisher or Steve Blake sucking up valuable minutes where they would have to guard someone at Lin's position. So this theory of craziness really won't be tested until they play at Miami (Chalmers is pretty solid defensively), though it's possible Dallas can come up with some scheme or use non-Jason Kidd players on him. And then they play at Boston, at Dallas, at San Antonio, etc.

I admit that I'd have liked to have picked him up on a fantasy team during this run. But that's about the extent of the impressing so far. I picked up Ray Felton last year for the same reason. Starting PG for the Knicks with D'Antoni coaching is likely to rack up some numbers. 
Like with Tebow mania, please wake me when this is accomplished on the road and against substantial opposition (ie, people who can guard a chair) and when the turnovers come down somewhat.

Updated point: This is not to say that Lin doesn't deserve to start or is not a good NBA player. I think both are probably true, though difficult to conclude decisively from available evidence so far (he could just be putting up stats on a relatively bad team for instance, as they play bad teams). It suggests that there is a disturbing lack of context to his present achievements and that he's thus probably not as good as "we" have cast him as, and almost certainly that whatever skills he clearly possesses (ability to make his own shot, to make open shots, to play aggressively, etc), as yet "great NBA point guard" is not among them. 

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