Jeremy Lin: What in Thee . . .

The phenomenon of “Lin-sanity” has taken the NBA and world by storm this past week. The Harvard-grad was not drafted in the 2010 draft and spent the majority of his rookie season in the NBA Developmental League, except for the 14 games he played with the Golden State Warriors.

Somehow he ended up in New York City. And, as they say, “the rest is history.”

I wrote an article about the Knicks cutting ties with Chauncey Billups being a big mistake. The story held true until this past week when Billups tore his Achilles tendon. But no matter how you look at it, the Knicks had no point guard to run the team and thus the struggles and below .500 record.

This last week, Jeremy Lin has absolutely “blown-up”. On Twitter, Facebook pages, YouTube, and SportsCenter, Lin has been the main focus and for good reason. He had led the New York Knicks, a team without superstars Carmelo Anthony (injury) and Amar’e Stoudemire (death of his brother), to five straight victories and has elevated a group, where Tyson Chandler is the only proven player, to play at a high level.

Who is Steve Novak? From what I remember, he was one of the best shooters to ever play at Marquette University, but has bounced around the league during his first five seasons. Novak is very limited, skill-wise, at the NBA level. He is a spot-up shooter that can’t create anything for himself. This month, Novak has averaged 12.4 ppg and is shooting 51.6% from the three-point line since Lin entered the lineup. Lin’s ability to create open shots for his teammates gives a guy like Novak a chance to get into the rotation.

During this five-game winning streak, Lin has averaged 26.8 ppg and 8 apg. Very good numbers for a guy, who went undrafted and over-looked. But I have a feeling if he wasn’t playing in New York, the people and media would not be making a big deal of his recent performances.

Think of all the media outlets that are in New York. It’s the biggest city in America. Things are bigger in New York, but things are also made bigger and, at times, blown out of proportion.

Has Lin been very good over his last five games? Yes.

Did Lin take center stage against Kobe Bryant on Friday on ESPN at Madison Square Garden? He certainly did.

Has any player in the history of the NBA, made a career off of five games before Lin? No. Has he changed that? Maybe?

I am not saying Lin is not a good player. His five-game stretch has been fun to watch. He is inspiration to the average person in this world. If you put your mind to it and heart in it, you can be successful and Lin has proven that. What I am saying is the sample size is too small. In a shortened, game-filled season, teams have had little to time to prepare, get healthy, and practice. I believe that’s why Ricky Rubio and Kyrie Irving have been successful so far this season. But if you have watched those two play over the last few games, teams are starting to get familiar with Rubio and Irving and are forcing them into doing things they don’t want to do during the course of a game.

Last night, I saw Lin go 8-24 from the field. That proves that it’s only a matter of time before the law of averages catches up with a player.

Back in 2006, the Detroit Tigers had a first baseman by the name of Chris Shelton, who was coming off a solid 2005 season, where he batted .299 with 18 home runs and 59 RBI in 388 plate appearances. By the end of the first month of the 2006 season, Shelton had already hit 10 home runs and driven in 20 runs and had a .326 batting average. Over the next four months of the season, Shelton batted .256 with six home runs and 27 RBI. He went from being the starting first baseman to hardly playing in September.

It might not be the greatest comparison, but it’s one that comes to my mind when I think of quick success. A guy gets off to an unbelievable start but it quickly fades and, more times than not, that player quietly disappears.

With Anthony and Stoudemire coming back in the next few days, I don’t believe Lin will keep up this pace. His numbers will level off and he will average 14 ppg and 7 apg for the rest of the season once the two stars return. But I will not deny the “shot in the arm” that he has given the Knicks and the city of New York.

It’s amazing that it took a Harvard graduate to revive The Garden.


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