By Brandon Niles, Explorebigsky.com Sports Writer
Only a few weeks ago the Knicks were slumping, losing to lesser teams and quickly falling out of the playoff race. Then something odd happened. Amidst poor play and injury-setbacks, head coach Mike D’Antoni inserted unknown third-string point guard Jeremy Lin into the lineup.
This 23-year-old, Harvard educated, undrafted, Asian-American player that no one had ever heard of has proceeded to amaze fans with each game.
Lin has taken the league by storm, having one of the best starts to his career in league history. In only a short while, he’s been given the moniker “Linsanity” and Madison Square Garden has erupted in raucous cheering for this brilliant Ivy League ball handler.
Standing only 6-foot-3, Lin has an uncanny ability to drive to the basket and is a master at executing the pick-and-roll offense that D’Antoni has implemented in New York. While this system has always been well suited for point guards, Lin’s success is one of the most intriguing stories in the league right now.
This story is so intriguing that it seems the entire sports world has taken notice. Commentators all over the nation have been eagerly watching every Knicks basketball game and commenting on Lin’s impressive feats. Everyone wants to know why this is the first we’ve heard of Lin, how long he’ll be able to produce at such a high level, and if the Knicks are back in contention with him at the helm.
However, as is so often the case, there are those in the media who have dramatically overreacted to the emergence of Lin. Some have said Lin should’ve made the all-star team (despite other notable point guards such as Rajon Rondo clearly deserving it more). Some have said Lin is now one of the top 10 point guards in the league. One famous commentator even compared him to Chris Paul, arguably the best point guard in the league.
Settle down everyone.
The story of Jeremy Lin is a great one, and like everyone else, I’m enjoying watching his fast ascension. He seems to be a likable guy, he’s been tremendously entertaining to watch, and his hard fought climb up the depth chart from obscurity is highly compelling. Additionally, he’s proven already that he has the talent to maintain his early success. He’s hit game-winning shots, made breathtaking passes, and shown the kind of ball skills that have terrorized opposing point guards. However, his sample size is still entirely too small to begin the discussion of how good he really is.
He clearly hasn’t been great for long enough to warrant all-star consideration, and to be mentioned among the top point guards in the league after only a handful of starts is pre-mature. Perhaps he’ll make the all-star game next year, and perhaps he’ll continue his success. It certainly seems as though he’s found the right system and he’s flashed the talent to maintain his level of play. At the moment however, the story of Linsanity is just another shining example of reactionary hyperbole that goes along with modern sports media.
Until he maintains this for the entire season and shows up in the playoffs, I’ll resist the urge to place him in the upper echelon of point guard rankings. Instead, I’ll enjoy watching him for as long as this success continues, and I’ll worry about his evaluation at the end of the season. For now, let’s not worry about where he ranks after only a handful of starts. Instead, let’s just kick back and enjoy the show.