Does Lin Suck Now?

1/11, 8 points. 8 turnovers. Jeremy Lin had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad game against the Miami Heat last night. After this horror show Lin’s averages as a starter plummeted to a pedestrian 22.4 ppg, 8.8 assists, on 47.3% shooting, and yes, 6.1 turnovers per game. So let’s all throw him under the bus and conclude that he’s half-baked, or worse, some kind of sham. After all, wasn’t this the theme of TNT’s “Hype or Substance” broadcast right from the start?

None of us can legitimately claim to know what Jeremy Lin’s career will develop into. Some, like John Hollinger (Insider) (Isiah Thomas, Kevin Johnson, Russell Westbrook), Carl Bialik (John Stockton, Chris Paul, Steve Nash), and Jamie O’Grady (Jason Kidd) have attempted to carve comparisons based on statistical analyses of the early careers of players who have put up lofty numbers similar to Lin’s.

I don’t think one game changes those analyses. But the thirst for instant reaction that led to the unprecedented hype that Lin received is also responsible for a frothing desire to bring him down a peg or two. In the age of Twitter there is no “long view”. But I’ll attempt to forge one anyway by providing context to this frothing desire.

Here it is.

I ran a search using Basketball-Reference‘s Game Finder tool to find games played by players aged 18-22, as starters, in which the player compiled at least 5 turnovers and shot less than 25% from the field:

  • In his 42nd career start, Dwayne Wade shot 0/7 and had 5 turnovers.
  • In his 37th career start, Ray Allen shot 1/9 and had 5 turnovers.
  • In his 17th career start, Allen Iverson shot 2/17 and had 6 turnovers.
  • In his 44th career start, Mark Jackson shot 2/13 and had 7 turnovers.
  • In his 60th career start, Brandon Jennings shot 2/12 and had 6 turnovers.
  • In his 3rd career start, Chauncey Billups shot 1/5 and had 7 turnovers.
  • In his 24th career start, Jason Kidd shot 2/10 and had 6 turnovers.

In almost all of these examples, the player in question had even more experience running the show as a starter than Lin has now. These kinds of games happen to young players, especially young guards who are asked to handle the ball a lot (and Lin is 5th in the entire NBA in usage rate).

Believe me this won’t be Lin’s last bad game as a starter. In fact, even well into their careers, it’s not uncommon for young ball handling guards to have a stray bad game:

  • In his second year as a starter, Stephon Marbury had a 4/17, 8 TO game, and a 0/8, 7 TO game.
  • In his second year as a starter, Kidd had 4/16, 7 TO game, a 2/12, 7 TO game, and a 4/16, 6 TO game.
  • In his second year as a starter, Chris Paul had a 2/11, 5 TO game, and a 3/17, 5 TO game.

Should I even mention Russell Westbrook?

My point here is not to suggest that Lin has carved a career path that merits his being discussed with the luminaries I’ve used as examples here. My point is that the Knicks’ promising young point guard had a bad game against a historically good defense. Read into that what you will. I read into it nothing.


  1. 20/20vision

    Which doesn’t even make mention of the fact that the Heat are one of the more gifted defensive teams in history. Excellent stuff.

  2. lovethoseknicks

    Another excellent piece.

    IMO, one of the reasons it has been so hard to build a legitimate contender in NY is that the fans and media seem incapable of thinking long term. That puts pressure on management to make moves that appear wise, but that hurt in the long term (over and above any other mistakes they make).

    I’ve already seen calls for firing D’Antoni and hiring Jackson, trading Lin while his value is still high, running the Triangle (which would mean either trading Lin or minimizing his effectiveness) etc…

    It was one game!

    The Knicks were on the road, on a back to back, had played on 4 of 5 nights, and are trying to fit in multiple new pieces. They(he) had every reason to be less than 100%. Miami was home, rested, and had a good chance to game plan for us. Plus, Miami is a great team to begin with. Even if you are a contender they are going to beat you like that on many nights.

    Lin dropped from heaven to us. Whatever he ultimately becomes will take time to find out, but he’s damn sure 1000% better than what Douglas was giving at PG. We need to give it some time, let him develop (he’s basically a rookie), and see how far he can go.

    Of much greater concern than Lin is the play of Amare and Melo.

    Both are playing well below the “star” level, let alone superstar level. They both have had some issues than may account for it, but either way, if they don’t turn it around, we are going nowhere.

  3. Dan L

    I totally agree, and I saw your debate on Twitter about the triangle. I shudder to think about the triangle because it means we have no more use for Lin and he just becomes a fancy trade chip. This roster has a unique opportunity with the coach they have right now and I look forward to seeing them continue to gel as the season progresses.

    • lovethoseknicks

      Some of our fans hate D’Antoni and others simply want Phil Jackson. 
      People complain about D’Antoni and in the same breath talk about how good Novak is without realizing the coach is only the reason a player that was rejected multiple times has become such a deadly weapon for us.  The list of players D’Antoni has turned from non-entity to highly productive is endless. Virtually all of them get worse when they leave him, but somehow he’s the problem. smh  If the defense was terrible again, there would at least be a legitimate case, but whether it’s Chandler/Shumpert, D’Antoni, Woodson or a little of each, the defense is now good. 

  4. juhfg

    We should expect some clunkers, especially fatigued on the road, playing a rested, nasty, and highly motivated Heat team. And hey, it was only ONE game, right?
    But that’s still not so reassuring. For me, it wasn’t just that he had a bad game. It was more than just the box score. 1-11 and 8 TOs doesn’t tell the whole story. It was a jarring performance from Lin. What stuck out was how he struggled just to dribble in the backcourt. For the first time, he looked scared and intimidated, like he didn’t belong anywhere near an NBA game. It looked hard for him just to dribble the ball anywhere on the court. 
    Mario Chalmers has some quick hands, but he’s not exactly making any All NBA Defensive squads anytime soon. Yet he manhandled and dominated Lin to a degree we rarely see in the NBA.
    Do good NBA players have off nights? Of course, especially when they’re young and inexperienced. 
    Do good NBA players get physically dominated by the likes of Mario Chalmers? Do good NBA players If it happens, it is pretty rare. 

    • lovethoseknicks

      He does get his dribble picked a little too often for comfort. That wasn’t the first game that happened. He’s going to have to review the films and see what he’s doing wrong. I think he relaxes just a little too much at times. It doesn’t happen much when he’s driving into the paint. So I think he’ll be OK.

      • Jon

        I think he needs to get a little stronger, and a little bit “stronger with the ball” as they say. He plays a physical game but gets knocked of his spot a little bit too often and his handle isn’t quite as tight as other PGs. This may just be a function of having played more off the ball at Harvard and not needing to work on it as much. What I love about him, though, is that he attacks his weaknesses with abandon. By as early as next season  I expect him to have a strong left hand and a much tighter handle in general.

        • lovethoseknicks

          I’m a huge fan of the combination of high intelligence and a strong work ethic. That’s the combination that almost always leads to a player achieving as much as his natural talent will allow. I’m not worried about Lin getting better. Barring injury, I think it’s a mortal lock. :-)  

          • Dan L

            I agree. Did you happen to read Howard Beck’s latest? Portrays Lin as a having the will of Terminator. Little doubt that he got to where he is purely through hard work, and he won’t stop trying to improve, either.

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