Amit's Sports Beat: The Dirty Little Secret About Lin

by Amit Badlani
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How will Jeremy Lin fit his own playing style while managing the addition of new players and players returning from injury?

After a historic start to his NBA career, Jeremy Lin has proved that he is real. He’s obliterated the very low expectations that were set for him by adjusting to defenses and new offensive schemes that are thrown at him on the fly. Now, Lin will have to face his toughest challenge yet: adjusting to new players on the floor.

Lin’s first four starts of his NBA career came without Amar’e Stoudemire. Aside from the first 6 minutes of the Jazz game on February 6th, Lin’s first eight starts came without Carmelo Anthony as well. With a very thin rotation, Lin became the primary shooter.

Early in the run, Lin utilized his ability to drive to the hoop and finish, pass out of the lane when a shot wasn’t there, and hit open jumpers when the defense gave it to him. As the games wore on and with the addition of Amar’e Stoudemire, Lin has tried to finish at the rim more and more with less success because he is the focal point of opposing defenses now. That’s the dirty secret about Lin: he is a shoot-first point guard.

Jeremy Lin’s first instinct is to charge the rim. His penetration into the lane frees up space for spot up three-pointers and mid-range jumpers for other players. Sure, he’s averaged 9.2 assists over his first 10 starts, but he’s also averaged a hefty 17.1 field goal attempts.

‘Linsanity’ has even admitted that. “As a point guard, my field goal attempts have been really high,” he said after the Knicks win against the Kings on February 15th. “I don’t think that’s necessarily good.”

Lin has a bounty of other players to pass to. Veteran scorers Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony are back in the lineup, 3-point threat J.R. Smith signed last week, Baron Davis debuted on Monday after a bout with back problems, Steve Novak has emerged as a reliable shooter off the bench, and Tyson Chandler leads the league in field goal percentage. That’s not all either: Iman Shumpert, Billy Walker, and Josh Harrelson should be back shortly after the All-Star break next week.

What Lin must do now is easier said than done. Lin has to continue to learn all his teammates’ tendencies to find where they like the ball while continuing to drive the lane (AKA – build chemistry). The Knicks’ matchup against the Heat this week will surely be more challenging for them without having developed rapport between teammates who haven't played together for many games. In the NBA, team chemistry is more important than talent, and the Knicks are loaded with talent.

Expect the Knicks to look sloppy offensively tonight against the Heat. While blogs and talk radio will blame Carmelo Anthony for stopping offensive flow with his style of play, Lin may be at fault for taking the shots instead of dishing it to proven and experienced finishers, but Lin feels differently.

“I think it’s more my job to distribute and get people in rhythm,” Lin said. “Hopefully, especially when Melo comes back, another lethal scorer, my shots will go down and my assists will go up.”

Jeremy, it’s going to take some time.

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