A Mile Marker On The Jeremy Lin Decision

Even though Jon warned against comparing Lin to Felton, he did so in the context of the Knicks’ world-beating run to start the season. He rightly pointed out that chemistry isn’t necessarily quantifiable and if the players on the team didn’t respect Lin the way they ostensibly do Felton, it would likely be manifest in the results on the court. Since then the Knicks have been unable to beat the Raptors, much less the world, and it may be time to evaluate the play of the point guard the Knicks let go and the guy they got to replace him. Why now, with the Knicks struggling, rather than earlier in the year during their torrid stretch? First, as shown in the charts below, it hasn’t taken very long to determine that Lin is probably at least already as good as Felton. Also, while distance allows a clearer view of the forest than it does of the trees, it still takes quite some time to get a full view of the forest. Just as the final judgment on the propriety of a trade often can’t be determined for 5, 10, or 15 years as a given player passes through the arc of his career and the teams’ fortunes turn – or don’t – the Knicks’ decision to replace Lin with Felton (when they could have had both) will be clearer from 30,000 feet. Consider this one guidepost along the way.

When the Knicks signed Felton the internets said it was because he could be trusted, as a seasoned vet with experience. You need a steady hand, the internets told us, with a veteran team gearing up for a long playoff run. Uh, ok:

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That includes the following abomination, which just confirms what many Knicks fans know or are discovering about Felton’s supposed defensive superiority:

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At least you know what you’re getting, I guess. But even if Felton’s playoff numbers were actually respectable, the Knicks chose him at the expense of, instead of in addition to, Lin, who is four years younger. Let’s compare Felton to Lin this year:

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By many of the most important metrics, Lin is already superior.

Now, since Lin has only played 121 games, let’s compare them to Felton’s first 121:

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Just for the hell of it, let’s also compare their last 20 games:

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So while it may be true that retaining Lin would have offended the egotistical sensibilities of certain demanding roster components, is it inconceivable that the Knicks would have been better off retaining a guard who is already better than his replacement, and who appears to be advancing at a steeper rate than his replacement could boast earlier in his career?

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