Jeremy Lin Haters/Doubters are Like The Flat Earth People

NOTE TO READER: I know this is a very long article, but if you’re going to read it, I really ask you to read it all the way through, because you won’t really have a full understanding of what I’m trying to say until you reach the very end of the article. I know there will be moments when you’ll be tempted to just skim through everything, thinking that you know what I’m going to say and jump to conclusions. But I urge you not to do that. The argument I’m trying to make is built up slowly and painstakingly brick-by-brick. You won’t really grasp the point I’m trying to make unless you read the ENTIRE article. I promise, it’ll be worth your while. And if you are or suspect yourself to be a Jeremy Lin Hater/Doubter and actually read through the entire article, then you have my highest respect.

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In ancient times, people believed that the world was flat. When scientific evidence proved that the world was round, many people still held steadfast to their beliefs. This is because they’ve always felt this way, so their beliefs had a great deal of energy. As such, they ignored scientific evidence and hung onto their strongly held beliefs. I can’t really blame the flat earth people, because they had plenty of physical evidence that they can see with their own eyes, which showed to them clearly that the earth is flat. I mean, when they looked around them, it was clear that they were standing on a flat surface. Nothing in their everyday lives showed them that the earth was round. This is because they were just microscopic specs on a gigantic ball–that was continuously rotating, no less!

I can’t have the same amount of sympathy for Jeremy Lin haters/doubters, however. Like the flat earth people, Jeremy Lin haters/doubters (JLHDs for short) have strong beliefs about what a good basketball player should look like and what credentials they should have coming into the NBA. They can’t wrap their conventional minds around the fact that an undrafted Asian American kid out of Harvard, who’s been to the D-League, passed from one NBA team to another only to sit at the very end of the bench, can possibly perform at a high level. An example is the infamous rant from Stephen A. Smith, an ESPN analyst, on how Jeremy Lin is a “marginal” player. Really?! A marginal player? Really? And your sole job is to watch NBA games and NBA players and analyze their game, presumably objectively? And you have every resource available to you to help you in your efforts and that’s what you come up with? Really?!

I feel stupid to even lay out some of the clear evidence that shows Jeremy Lin is anything but an average player. But I feel like I have to in painstaking detail. Lets see. There’s the whole first 7-game starts, in which Jeremy Lin (229 points/86 assists) not only surpassed, but demolished all time greats in the Point Guard position when it comes to points and assists: Magic Johnson (129 points/49 assists), Isiah Thomas (172 points/45 assists), John Stockton (68 points/75 assists). You know any marginal players that have done this?

Here’s Lin’s very basic stat line for 2011-2012 season: 14.6 PPG/6.2 APG. But these stats need to come with a bunch of asterisks, because they include games in which Lin didn’t play meaningful minutes (we’re talking single-digit minutes here). The only fair way to calculate Jeremy Lin’s stats for the 2011-2012 season is if you only count the games in which Lin played significant minutes (i.e., from February 4th game against New Jersey to the March 24th game against Detroit). So Lin’s real points and assists statistics for the 2011-2012 season is: 18.5 PPG / 7.7 AGP.

Taking just these two very basic non-controversial stats, lets see how Lin ranks among the following “above average” starting point guards in the league: Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo, Deron Williams, Steve Nash, Tony Parker, Russell Westbrook, Kyrie Irving, Ricky Rubio, John Wall, Brandon Jennings, Jose Calderon, Kyle Lowry, Ty Lawson, Mike Conley, Kemba Walker, Jeff Teague, Jason Kidd, Stephen Curry, Raymond Felton, and Andre Miller. I know I’ll get some flack for not including Monta Ellis. I included Brandon Jennings instead, because it was much easier stat-wise, since Monta Ellis’s stats are divided between his time with Golden State and his time with Milwaukee. Also, he’s been playing the SG position, in addition to PG position, at Milwaukee. I’m sure I’ve left out your favorite point guard, but we’d be here all day if we keep debating the list. The point is not who’s on or off this list, the point is to show where Jeremy Lin stands within this list of representative “above average” starting point guards in the league in 2011-2012:

PPG APG
Russell Westbrook 23.6 5.5
Derrick Rose 21.8 7.9
Deron Williams 21 8.7
Chris Paul 19.8 9.1
Brandon Jennings 19.1 5.5
Jeremy Lin 18.5 7.7
Kyrie Irving 18.5 5.4
Tony Parker 18.3 7.7
Ty Lawson 16.4 6.6
John Wall 16.3 8
Stephen Curry 14.7 5.3
Kyle Lowry 14.3 6.6
Mike Conley 12.7 6.5
Jeff Teague 12.6 4.9
Steve Nash 12.5 10.7
Kemba Walker 12.1 4.4
Rajon Rondo 11.9 11.7
Raymond Felton 11.4 6.5
Ricky Rubio 10.6 8.2
Jose Calderon 10.5 8.8
Andre Miller 9.7 6.7
Jason Kidd 6.2 5.5

Lin ranks 7th in PPG and 10th in APG among a list of over 20 “above average” point guards in the league. So at least based on the two most basic statistics for a point guard, Lin ranks above average among a list of “above average” starting point guards. I’m no math genius, but I’d say that’s another piece of evidence that shows Lin is not a marginal player.

But lets take this one step further. Lin did this in his second year in the league. So I think it would only be fair if we see how these point guards compare to Lin when they were in comparable stages in their careers. And to be completely fair, I’m not going to just compare Lin’s statistics with all these players in their second season in the league. I’m going to only compare Lin’s statistics with these point guard’s stats in the first season in which they logged an average of over 30 minutes per game (MPG), so we have comparable data and are not comparing Lin’s stats with stats of these point guards when they were playing single digit minutes. For some players, such as Derrick Rose or Chris Paul, I used their rookie season, since they were in the starting line up in their first year, so I consider that comparable to Lin’s data that I’ve used. But just so you see that I’m fair, for a lot of the other players, I’ve used data AFTER their sophomore year (so presumably, they’ve had more experience than where Lin is currently), because that’s when they started logging significant minutes. For example, for Rajon Rondo, I used statistics from his 3rd year in the NBA. For Steve Nash, I was even more generous. Even though Steve Nash logged 31.7 MPG in his 3rd season (FYI his stats were 7.9 PPG / 5.5 APG), I didn’t used those mediocre stats, because I noticed that in his 4th year, his MPG was reduced to 27. It wasn’t until his 5th season that he started logging over 30 MPG consistently. So for Steve Nash, I used stats from his 5th year. There are many other examples of me using stats for players AFTER their 2nd year. I just chose to highlight the examples from Nash and Rondo. So here is where Jeremy Lin stands among these point guards when comparing his statistics with their statistics when they were at similar junctures in their careers:

PPG APG
Jeremy Lin 18.5 7.7
Kyrie Irving 18.5 5.4
Stephen Curry 17.5 5.9
Derrick Rose 16.8 6.3
John Wall 16.4 8.3
Ty Lawson 16.4 6.6
Deron Williams 16.2 9.3
Chris Paul 16.1 7.8
Andre Miller 15.8 8
Steve Nash 15.6 7.3
Brandon Jennings 15.5 5.7
Tony Parker 15.5 5.3
Russell Westbrook 15.3 5.3
Raymond Felton 14 7
Kyle Lowry 13.5 6.7
Jeff Teague 12.6 4.9
Kemba Walker 12.1 4.4
Mike Conley 12 5.3
Jason Kidd 11.7 7.7
Jose Calderon 11.2 8.3
Ricky Rubio 10.6 8.2
Rajon Rondo 10.6 5.1

Lin is tied for 1st with Kyrie Irving in PPG, you know, the 2012 Rookie of the Year. He’s ranked 7th in APG. So there’s more evidence for you that when looking at the most basic stats for Lin and putting those stats into context by comparing them with those of the current “above average” point guards when they were in similar junctures in their careers, Lin’s stats are, dare I say, elite. Or at the very least far from average.

Even though I’m someone who doesn’t believe that stats tell the whole story, I went through the trouble of doing all of this, so that we have at least some basis to start out with. The reason I’m not a big believer in stats is that you can find a stat to support virtually anything you want to say. It’s just another weapon people use to win mindless arguments back and forth that lack any real meaning or substance. For example, I could have boosted Lin’s status by talking about his stats during clutch time and all of that. Really obscure stuff. Instead, I just decided to stick to the most basic stats so we don’t lose site of the bigger picture. I’m not saying that stats are bad. I’m just saying that people abuse stats by taking them out of context only to be able to say that they’re right, even though they know that they’re wrong on the things that really matter.

SIDE NOTE: An example of how to use statistics the right way is how Ed Weiland, the FedEx delivery driver and numbers hobbyist, crunched data in a unique and objective way to show that Jeremy Lin was one of the top players coming out of college in 2010. I’m not saying this, because he supports my views. I’m just mentioning it so people won’t think that I’m some lunatic who doesn’t care about numbers and, so the reasoning goes, I must only think Jeremy Lin is good based on my emotions. No, my friend. The argument I’m slowly building is that in actuality JLHDs are the ones who are driven predominantly by their emotions. They keep repeating that Jeremy Lin is an average player as they close their ears and eyes, refusing to see anything else that contradicts their views, because they have such strong emotions built up about it.

Of course the JLHDs are going to point out that I didn’t include his turnovers, so I must be biased.  I’ve addressed Lin’s turnovers in my previous posts, but let me just take a moment to speak on this misunderstood subject some more. As I’ve mentioned, everyone should be a little weary of stats–especially when they’re taken out of meaningful context. To me, turnovers are one of those stats that really need to be produced with the necessary context in order to convey any real meaning. You can’t just talk about turnovers in isolation. I’ve covered this in my previous posts, so I’ll just touch on it here. The number of turnovers a point guard has, by itself, doesn’t really say much. You need to take it a couple of levels further and put it within the context of their level of aggression, their usage factor, etc. For example, a point guard can have a very low turnover number, like 1 or 2, yet there’s no way of knowing if he’s a good point guard or not. He maybe just standing around the perimeter passing the ball from side-to-side most of the time. And conversely, a high turnover number doesn’t necessarily mean the player is terrible. For example, Allen Iverson had high turnover numbers. This is because Iverson is a hyper-aggressive guard who’s constantly attacking and creating (mostly for himself). He also had a high usage factor, meaning that the ball is in his hands most of the time. This is somewhat similar to how Jeremy Lin plays–especially under D’Antoni. The ball was in Jeremy’s hands most of the time and he was constantly attacking the defense trying to create almost equally for himself and his teammates. So, no, I’m not going to include turnover numbers, without putting them within the context that they need to be put in to really understand them. And doing so is, admittedly, above my pay grade.

Also, people tend to over-exaggerate how harmful turnovers are to a team. Yes, turnovers are bad. They’re very bad. But people have an attitude like they’re the end of the world–especially when it comes to “proving” how terrible of a player Jeremy Lin is. Let me put turnovers in context. Do turnovers turn into automatic 2-points for the opposing team? No. In fact, I would venture to guess that it only happens 50% of the time, if that. But admittedly, I’m just pulling that number out of my ass. When they aren’t converted into points by the opposing team, then they’re not really that much more harmful than missing a shot, are they? And by the way, opposing teams can convert missed shots into buckets, too. So I hope I’ve opened your eyes a little into all the over-hyped turnover talks–especially when it comes to Jeremy Lin.

I’m not saying that Jeremy Lin doesn’t need to work on protecting the ball better. He does. But to constantly reference only his turnover numbers as “clear evidence” that he’s an average point guard or that he’s “garbage” is clear evidence that you’re cherry picking one or two things that support your strongly held beliefs and ignoring everything else that doesn’t. Need I remind you again that this is the definition of bias? You’re “analyzing” Jeremy Lin purely based on your emotions. You’re not being objective. I love how JLHDs constantly refer to Jeremy Lin fans as “idiots”, etc. as if the very act of calling someone else an idiot makes you so intelligent. They hang onto the feeling of superiority (maybe because it is the only time in their lives that they think they can feel superior) thinking that they know so much more about the game, because they were basketball fans, before Jeremy Lin. But I think JLHDs need to be honest with themselves and really think about whether or not they’re doing the very same things that they call Jeremy Lin fans “idiots” for doing. They over-hype his weaknesses and blind themselves to any information that goes against their strongly held biases. It’s okay. No one is watching right at this moment as you read this. You can be honest with yourself. If you can’t at least be honest with yourself right at this moment as I’m giving you the perfect opportunity to do so, you have to ask yourself when you ever will be honest with yourself. I know it’s painful to admit when you’re wrong. No one likes doing that. But if you never admit when you’re wrong, then how are you ever going to learn anything new? How are you ever going to grow as a person? I hate to break it to you, but no one is right all the time–no matter how many people you keep calling idiots to make yourself feel superior. It doesn’t work that way. There’s a nagging thing called the truth that gets in the way. It’s easy to hang on to false beliefs. The more difficult thing is to be a bigger person and admit that you’re wrong to open yourself up to learning something new. Anyway, enough self-help. Onto my analysis.

I’m sure JLHDs will point out that 26 games is such a small sample size to judge anything on. I think that’s a somewhat fair criticism. But what other data can I draw upon. I’m using all data available to me. It’s not like I’m cherry picking the data and only picking 26 of Jeremy Lin’s best games. I’m just using data from all the games in which Jeremy Lin has logged significant minutes. It’s not Jeremy Lin’s fault that he didn’t get a chance to play any meaningful minutes until those 26 games. So are you going to penalize him because he wasn’t given a chance? Also, some of the people who point out the small sample size are, at the same time, too quick to point out how Jeremy Lin was completely exposed in the ONE game against Miami. Somehow that ONE game suddenly becomes a SIGNIFICANT sample size to judge Jeremy Lin’s weaknesses. So I want to address that Miami game and, once again, give it some context. It occurred on a back-to-back (not making excuses, just giving context). It’s funny how JLHDs leave out the fact that every Knicks player struggled in that Miami game. Not just Lin. In fact Baron Davis played far worse then Jeremy Lin. Everyone on the Knicks struggled in that game, so why does Jeremy Lin get all the attention? It was also against one of the toughest defensive teams in the league who had a mission to shut Jeremy Lin down. Even if Jeremy Lin was the only one from the Knicks who struggled in that game, it’s still just ONE game! I mean, Carmelo, who’s raison d’etre is to score at a high level had so many games (NOT just one or two or a few or several) before April in which he shot around 35 percent and scored under 20 points, including against sub-500 teams. Does that make Carmelo garbage? Nonsense! I’m not trying to hate on Melo by using him as an example. It just seems to make sense, since I figured many JLHDs would be familiar with Melo’s stats and would immediately know what I’m talking about. Let me just pull out one game to further illustrate my point. On March 6th, against Dallas, Melo scored 6 points, shot 2 for 12, which is 16.7%. Wow, Dallas must own Melo, right? Nonsense! I’ll just give one more example, just to open your eyes a bit so you can see how ridiculous you sound. On March 22, 1986, Michael Jordan scored 8 points against the Cleveland Cavaliers. This must mean that we need to re-think calling Jordan the best player of all time, huh? Nonsense. JLHDs will argue that these examples are different. These guys have already “proven” themselves. Jeremy Lin hasn’t. Well, you haven’t even given Jeremy Lin the chance to prove himself when you jump all over him for that one bad game against an elite defensive team and call him garbage solely because of that ONE game, even though he played at a high level before and after that game pretty consistently I might add.

Now I want to put the 26 game sample size into context. Again, JLHDs will argue that it’s too small of a sample size, so Jeremy Lin is still not “proven”. That’s another term that they love to throw around. Sure, he demolished hall-of-famers with his stats in his first 7 starts, but he’s still not “proven”. Sure, he’s turned around a team that was destined to not even make the playoffs to give them a 7-game winning streak and a jolt of energy by making all his teammates better, but he’s still not “proven”. They also love to add that the winning streak was against weak teams.

Lets talk about that 7-game winning streak why don’t we? Rather than cherry pick only the things that made the 7-game winning streak a piece of cake (really, there’s only ONE thing: that it was against mostly weak teams), why don’t we look at the entire context of the 7-game winning streak. First of all, Jeremy Lin, being the last guy on the bench didn’t get to scrimmage much during the little practice that the Knicks had in the shortened season. In other words, he wasn’t groomed to be an “above average” player, so he didn’t get the training that many first round picks and even second round picks have the luxury of receiving. He essentially walked onto the court completely cold on February 4th to play the Nets (unless JLHDs want to count the 7 minutes that he played the night before against Boston). During the winning streak, the two superstars of the Knicks (Melo and Stat) were absent for most of it. So Lin did it with more or less a bunch of scrubs (except for Chandler, who’s not an offensive threat). Remember, Novakane didn’t exist before Linsanity and Shump was only known as the guy that didn’t make it into the Rising Stars Challenge at the time. He was still trying to carve out an identity for himself. When you look at this entire context, it’s really mind-blowing what Jeremy Lin did. Never mind above average, what Jeremy Lin did, when taking into context all of this reaches super-human status and I’m not exaggerating. Just think about it. He wasn’t groomed to play at any level, he didn’t get much practice, he walked onto the court cold and he was asked to play arguably the toughest position (which he didn’t play until the NBA) and enhance the playing level of a bunch of scrubs to win 7-games in a row and turn around a team that was destined to not even make the playoffs. And, by the way, he did all of this with the eyes of the entire world on him and every team making it their highest priority to shut him down (to be precise Lin didn’t really have the eyes of the entire world on him and didn’t become a target for other teams until the middle of the winning streak onwards to D’Antoni’s resignation). So why don’t JLHDs talk about the 7-game winning streak in this entire context? Instead, they fixate on just ONE piece of data: that it happened against mostly weak teams. Also, average players don’t bounce back from poor first half performances to have the courage and ice in the veins to calmly take the last second shot with the entire world watching to win the game (Lin vs. Raptors). Lin possesses the rare type of courage that great players have–this is what makes him so deadly during clutch time. Average players just don’t have this type of courage and composure.

Now lets talk about the “weak teams” piece of data. Every team during this season probably had a similarly easy 7-game stretch, so why didn’t this 7-game winning streak happen to another point guard who was playing with a bunch of “scrubs”? (Before JLHDs start giving random examples of teams that had 7+ wining streaks, first ask yourself if the point guard was the primary catalyst for that winning streak and if so, did the point guard play with a bunch of Scrubs. Inevitably, JLHDs will give the Spurs as an example anyway, because JLHDs aren’t great at listening to what anyone else has to say, so let me just address that now. Do you consider the lineup that Parker had to work with a bunch of scrubs? If so, then okay, so you have Tony Parker as an example. I think we can all agree that Tony Parker is a pretty good point guard, so Lin is in good company. In other words, it couldn’t have happened to just any average point guard).

Let me take this one step further. A situation that’s somewhat similar to the one that Jeremy Lin faced during the 7-game winning streak is one that John Wall faced the entire season (i.e., point guard playing with a bunch of scrubs). So how come John Wall never put together a 7-game winning streak? I’m sure they had an easy 7-game stretch somewhere in the season. Forget the winning streak, how come John Wall didn’t get the kind of numbers that Jeremy Lin put up during the 7-game winning streak, when Lin played with a bunch of scrubs and had permission to really play his game? John Wall had an entire season to put together these numbers and couldn’t for any 7-game stretch. And if you used Tony Parker as an example for the 7-game winning streak, because you claim the Spurs are a bunch of scrubs, then how come a great and proven point guard like Tony Parker also wasn’t able to match the kind of numbers that Lin put together for a 7-game stretch that gave Lin the Player of the Week award (by the way, average players don’t go around winning Player of the Week awards)? Lets take a look at the basic stats that Lin put up during the 7-game winning streak, in which he played with a bunch of “scrubs”: 24.4 PPG / 9.14 APG.

Average players may have one or two good games here and there, but they don’t string together 7 straight good performances. Actually, if you’re talking about personal performances, Jeremy Lin continued performing at a high level for three more games beyond the 7-game winning streak, including a 28-points / 14-assists game against Dallas. So we’re talking a streak of 10 games in which Lin performed at a peak level if you want to be fair to Lin. Average players don’t do this.

Now, lets put some context around the 26 game sample size. Admittedly, it’s not a big sample size. But just think about what happened during these 26 games to the Knicks and you may be surprised how good of a sample those 26 games become. The Knicks essentially had at least three mini seasons during those 26 games:

  • “Season One”: 7-game winning streak, in which everything was clicking and it seemed like the Knicks had solved their problems
  • “Season Two”: Superstars returned disrupting the chemistry, resulting in a 6-game losing streak, the Knicks are once again outside looking in.
  • “Season Three”: Coach fired, new coach changes the dynamics on the team and forces Lin to change his game on the fly

Yes, the 26 games is a small sample size, but Jeremy and his team also went through a lot during those 26 games so that 26-game sample size is deceivingly small. Despite huge ups and downs, as well as the upheaval that comes with a coaching change, Jeremy Lin was still able to put together 18.5 PPG and 7.7 APG. Elite numbers when compared to numbers put up by “above average” point guards during comparable stages in their lives. And to give even more context, Jeremy Lin performed at a high level in a position that he hadn’t played until he came to the NBA. He also did it for a team that had problems with the Point Guard position with many players failing in the position before Lin took over. If Lin is an average player, he would have  failed just like all the rest. Instead, when given just ONE chance, Lin rose.

Jeremy Lin is not an average player. If you still think so after I’ve carefully and painstakingly laid out everything for your convenience, then I would suspect that you have much bigger problems than being a JLHD. I suggest you look at other areas in your life in which you hold onto strong biases and only cherry pick things that support your views and ignore everything else, no matter how overwhelming the data. You can choose to hear what I’m saying right now at this very moment when no one’s looking, or you can go ahead and block them out like you always have. That’s completely on you.

For those who are sincerely interested in going beyond their biases, but still somehow can’t, let me  help make things easier on you. I’ll attempt to lift the blind fold by having you do a mental exercise. If Jeremy Lin hadn’t been partly discriminated against when he graduated high school. A good basketball program would have picked him up, based on his high school performance (e.g., leading his school to a State Championship). If he had gotten into a good college basketball program, like he deserved to be, he would have been drafted, maybe even in the first round. Had he been drafted in the first round, he wouldn’t have been sitting at the end of the benched or been passed from one NBA team to another. Or we can forget this entire alternative scenario and just think about how if NBA scouts had looked at Lin’s stats in college in an objective way (i.e., the way Ed Weiland did) and picked him very early in the draft based on the conclusion that he was one of the best college players in 2010, then Jeremy Lin would have immediately been validated as some sort of prodigy. I mean, only prodigies get picked that early in the draft, coming out of a no-name basketball program, right? This guy must be out of this world good! Expectations of Lin would have been pretty high from the get go.

If all of this had been the case, then anyone would feel silly for continually questioning what he has done and keep wanting more and more proof if he’s for real. Or still calling him “average” even at the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Instead, people would point to Jeremy Lin’s performance as clear evidence of why he got picked in the first round and, moreover, they’ll take the 26-game sample size and extrapolate it out into the future and say that Lin will become one of the best point guards in the league. I mean, there’s clear evidence. He’s already surpassed all-time great point guards in his first 7 starts? What more evidence do you want? He’s a proven point guard. JLHDs might argue that everyone has to prove themselves and so Jeremy Lin is no different. And to that, I say that’s just making a comment that sounds good, but doesn’t have much bearing on reality. Just go back to the mental exercise I just had you do and you’ll get what I mean. If Jeremy Lin was picked early in the draft like he should have been had circumstances been different and performed the way he has performed even in the short amount of time, do you think anyone would still say that he’s unproven? If you still think so, then I’m not sure you’re being completely objective. Jeremy Lin wasn’t picked in the first round because he was overlooked–it wasn’t because he lacked the ability. In other words, Jeremy Lin’s lack of credentials has mostly to do with things outside of himself. But, yet, JLHDs are still letting those very things that caused Lin to be overlooked prevent them from recognizing Lin’s innate talents. Does that make sense, now? Any light bulb moments? I don’t know why no one seems to be able to see this.

I know it’s hard to admit when you’re wrong. Just know that it’s hard for anyone. Not just you. This is why only critics in Jeremy Lin’s past have come out to say that they were wrong about Jeremy Lin. Because it’s easier to admit that you’re wrong when some time has passed. As a result, the list of Lin converts continues to grow. I think it’s been well documented from scouts and coaches at Stanford to Houston management, etc. I don’t need to dwell on that. So it’s only a matter of time when the pain of being wrong for JLHDs will shrink with time and they’ll be able to admit that Lin is at least a top 10 point guard in the NBA.

SIDE NOTE: I like to be completely honest, so I’ll confess my concerns for Jeremy Lin’s future, with respect to his individual performance. One concern I have is his conditioning and if he’ll be able to go through a full season without injuries. He gets banged up so much, because of his hyper-aggressive style of play that his conditioning is an important part of his game that I’ll be watching carefully. Another concern is that if Jeremy Lin stays with the Knicks, which is very likely, then Woodson is going to turn him into primarily a passer and essentially take the “Linsanity” out of Jeremy Lin in order to achieve his primary (if not sole) goal of solving the debate on whether or not Melo and Stat can co-exist. I’ve written about this ad nauseum, so I won’t go any further. The reason I’m, admittedly, overly sensitive about this is that JLHDs cherry pick every little thing to bring Jeremy Lin down. So if Lin’s numbers go down next season, which it will if he stays with the Knicks, then they will say that he was just a fluke and feel validate. It’ll be too much to ask JLHDs to look at the context of what caused Lin’s numbers to go down–that it was the coach that forced him to change his game–and that Lin could still put up big numbers if he was permitted to. No. They’ll just say that they were right all along. That Lin is just an overrated fluke and that Linsanity was all media hype. For the JLHD’s own sake, I don’t want this to happen, because they’ll feel like they were right to hang onto their strongly held biases and will lose one of their biggest opportunities to learn something valuable.

RELATED POSTS:

https://jeremylintelligence.wordpress.com/2012/05/12/staying-with-woodsonmelo-knicks-would-hold-jeremy-lin-back/

https://jeremylintelligence.wordpress.com/2012/02/16/jeremy-lins-turnover-numbers-are-representative-of-top-point-guards/

https://jeremylintelligence.wordpress.com/2012/02/16/3/

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NBAPA’s Bird Rights Dispute: Implications for Jeremy Lin

I’ve noticed some confusion about the NBA Players Association’s dispute on Bird Rights. So I just want to simplify things a bit and untangle some of the confusion as it pertains to Jeremy Lin. Without going into too much detail, which would further confuse, here’s the gist of it.

The main intention of Bird Rights is give teams the ability to re-sign star veterans to maximum contracts (a figure calculated based on the number of years a player has played in the league) even if it puts the team over their salary cap. There’s several other details, such as the player has to be playing on the same team or contract for three consecutive years to get Bird rights. The catch is, that if a player is traded, he and his new team retains his Bird rights if he plays out his 3-year contract with the new team. Bird rights currently don’t apply to players that are taken off waivers, which Lin and Novak were. This has never been considered, because players that come off waivers don’t become stars. So no one really cared about giving Bird Rights to players off waivers before. But now that Lin (and Novak) have become stars, the player’s union is trying to argue that players coming off waivers should have Bird Rights in tact, because a new contract was never drawn up. This is important for the Knicks hopes of keeping Lin (and Novak), because it allows the Knicks to match any offer from another team (including back loaded offers), without it affecting their salary cap. Right now, the Knicks are severely hindered, because of their salary cap situation. If they keep Lin, they may need to use their full MLE (mid-level exception) worth $5 million and basically won’t be able to keep Novak or even go after another player, like Nash. I, for one, don’t want Lin to stay with the Knicks for his own sake, so I’m hoping the NBPA loses their case.

If the NBAPA wins their case, then Knicks can match any offer (without being worried about going over their salary cap) and Lin is forced to stay with the Knicks, since Lin is a RESTRICTED free agent. This is why in theory, Bird rights is advantageous for BOTH players and teams, because teams don’t have to take into consideration their salary cap when making offers to players with Bird Rights, so players have a good chance of getting the maximum contract. So that’s why the NBAPA is taking this opportunity to better define the terms surrounding Bird Rights and expand its application. Since I don’t think it is advantageous for Lin’s development to have him stay with the Knicks, I’m hoping the NBAPA loses their case, because that is the ONLY chance Lin has to get picked up by another team, since he’s a RESTRICTED free agent. Because if the NBAPA loses their case, then Lin doesn’t have Bird rights, so the Knicks will have a lot of difficulty matching a very lucrative back-loaded contract by another team, since it will really hurt their salary cap. I’m not saying that the Knicks can’t match. I’m saying that it would be ill-advised for the Knicks to match, because they’ll be dealing with a lot of salary cap issues down the road. Knowing Dolan and his short-sighted decision-making, he’ll probably do it anyway. Hope that all makes sense.

This is pure speculation on my part, but I think there’s a very good chance that the NBAPA will win the case. Before Jeremy Lin, Bird rights weren’t given to players coming off waivers because there was no reason for it. But Jeremy provides a clear case in which there’s reason for it. So if you don’t want Lin to stay with the Knicks, then this is not good news, because if the Player Union wins this case, then I’m 100% certain that Lin will stay with the Knicks, because without any salary cap issues, Dolan will match any offer from any team no matter how outrageous (and I have a feeling that offers for Lin will get pretty outrageous). Dolan knows how valuable Lin is–especially marketing-wise. And Dolan also loves big name players and there’s no bigger name in sports right now than Jeremy Lin. So he’ll do everything in his power to retain Lin. To make matters worst, Lin will probably be signing a multi-year contract with the Knicks, since other teams will back-load their offers for Lin (meaning giving him a four year contract, for example, so they can increase the third and fourth year of the deal significantly) and the Knicks will be forced to match the offer if they want to retain Lin, which they most certainly will.

Anyway, if you are rooting for Lin to leave the Knicks for his own sake, then things aren’t looking good. For the most part, Lin’s future is in the hands of the Knicks, since he’s a restricted free agent. The only way out for Lin is the Knicks awful salary cap situation. But if the NBAPA wins their case, then Lin essentially loses his only way out of the Knicks, because salary cap won’t be an issue in retaining Lin. All that being said, in the bigger scheme of things, Lin will still get to play the game he loves, most likely in a starting role–a dream that seemed impossible before February. So Lin will be just fine. Lin has dealt with way more adversity in the past so he’ll be able to handle anything that comes his way as long as he continues to use his wisdom and assert his will. Also, I think with Lin the Knicks have the missing piece to be serious contenders next season. We had a sampling of how great the Knicks could be under Woodson with Lin, Stat, Melo, Chandler all together. They went 6-1, but more importantly they didn’t just win, they demolished teams–including a back-to-back beating of a hot Indiana Pacers team. So Lin could be a part of a deep playoff run if he stays with the Knicks. That couldn’t be bad. Just looking at things on the bright side. So Lin fans need not worry too much about Lin.

Related Post: https://jeremylintelligence.wordpress.com/2012/05/12/staying-with-woodsonmelo-knicks-would-hold-jeremy-lin-back/

Staying with Woodson/Melo Knicks would hold Jeremy Lin back

There’s no doubt that the Knicks want Jeremy Lin back next season (if only for his marketing value and also the fact that Knicks fans would be storming Dolan’s mansion with pitchforks if Lin isn’t re-signed) and there’s a very good chance that the Knicks will get their wish due to the “Gilbert Arenas” provision (http://www.cbafaq.com/salarycap.htm#Q44), which limits other teams to the mid-level offer. However, there’s a chance that teams can back load the offer by increasing the third and fourth year of the deal significantly. (http://www.hoopsworld.com/nba-am-can-the-knicks-get-steve-nash-3) If this happens, it makes it extremely difficult for the Knicks to keep Lin, because of the Knicks’ salary situation. For Jeremy’s sake, I hope another team that understands and respects Lin’s game and his being makes an offer the Knicks can’t match, because I think Lin’s development will be severely limited with the Knicks for a number of reasons that I will go into.

I know Jeremy is loyal to his team and teammates to a fault. But he shouldn’t feel like he owes the Knicks organization anything. What he has done for the Knicks organization, not to mention the NBA, is tremendously disproportionate to the opportunity that the Knicks gave him out of sheer desperation. There’s nothing more he needs to do for them.

I do like the Knicks and I like Jeremy. But I don’t trust this Knicks organization–especially if they’re thinking of bringing back Isaiah in any capacity. This is the genius that tweeted to trade Lin for Fisher. And they’ve had a history of making very poor management decisions that have been well documented, so I won’t dwell on it here. They just don’t seem like an organization that either knows how to or is interested in developing their players. Things may change for the better now that Grunwald is the GM, but Dolan is still at the helm.

Management is one thing, but the person that has the most influence over a player’s development is the coach. It looks like Mike Woodson will return as Knicks head coach. If this is the case, I don’t think he’s the right coach for Lin, but probably not for the reasons that have been touted. Yes, Woodson is known for his isolation-heavy offense and has a history of it. But I think during the year off of coaching, he had time to think about it and I think he knows that he needs to move away from his iso-heavy offense. We all witnessed a hint of this after he took over for D’Antoni and both Lin and Stat were playing with Melo. Woodson combined some iso, as well as pick-n-roll, spread the floor D’Antoni offense. Now, I’m not sure if this blend was because he had just taken over as Interim coach and didn’t have time to implement more of his offense. We will only know for sure next season. I think it may be unfair to judge his offense after Lin and Stat went out and he went back to an iso-heavy offense. I think it had more to do with necessity (i.e., they didn’t have anyone but Melo who could score consistently) than him enforcing his iso-heavy system full-force. But, again, we won’t know for sure until next season. If it turns out that Woodson hasn’t learned anything during his time off, as well as his experience in the first round with Miami, and sticks to an iso-heavy offense next season, then that’s not an offensive system that Jeremy Lin would thrive in. One evidence that does favor this scenario is that Woodson appears to favor Melo over all the other players on the team (with the exception of Chandler), so he may stick to an Iso-Melo offense. Under an Iso-Melo offense, Jeremy’s talents would be completely wasted and he would take a step back after making such great strides during Linsanity.

Even if it turns out that Woodson favors team-offense over Iso-Melo, I still think Woodson is not the right coach for Jeremy Lin, because of one very important reason. From what you’ve read so far, you may think I don’t like Woodson. But it’s not true, if you’ve read my previous posts, I actually think Woodson is a fine coach, because he knows how to communicate to his (star) players. Sure he has his faults and is still not a proven coach in the playoffs. But he was dealt a pretty bad hand during the first round with Miami–everything that could have possibly gone wrong for the Knicks did. However, the main issue I have with Woodson is that he has MAJOR trust issues with young players and this is the biggest reason why I think he would hold Jeremy back. He has this thing that he picked up from Red Holzman that young players should just sit, listen and learn. And it’s been ingrained in his DNA. He repeats this every chance he gets and it makes me want to rip his throat out every time. He says it like it’s some profound thing. But it’s a very shortsighted view of things and I think it’s made him make costly coaching decisions. He’ll trust players to a fault, simply because they are veterans, whereas any young player has to prove themselves time and time again regardless of how talented, wise, or knowledgeable about the game they are. This has caused him to play a Chandler, delirious from the flu in Game 1, rather than give a healthy Harrellson a chance. It’s also made him stick with a gimpy Baron Davis who makes terrible decisions on the court time and time again and takes bad shots over and over without consequence it seems. It’s also made him trust JR Smith, who also makes poor decisions, constantly fouling shooters at the three point line and taking bad shots and making bad passes time and time again. But he trusts these guys, simply because they’re veterans. “They’ve been tested” is another tired phrase that he repeats over and over again, like it’s some wise saying.

I think Woodson’s debilitating distrust of young players will be a problem for Lin no matter what type of offensive system he runs, because he won’t give Lin the respect that Lin deserves. Whenever I hear Woodson speak about Lin, there’s always this sense that Lin still has so much to learn. It’s very condescending. Don’t get me wrong, I think Lin does have a lot to learn (after all, he didn’t play the point guard position until he got to the NBA–a fact that escapes most people) and Lin knows he has a lot to learn. But I just don’t see Woodson giving Lin much respect, simply because Lin is a young player. I think that’s extremely shortsighted of Woodson. Okay, I get that experience is important. But every player is different. There’s plenty of veterans out there who don’t have wisdom and make poor decisions on the court (i.e., JR Smith). Yet Woodson trusts JR to a fault, simply because he’s a veteran. And he questions Lin, who has more wisdom than most veterans on and off the basketball court. It’s clear from the way Lin plays and the way he breaks down the game during post game interviews that he has a very high basketball IQ and understands the game from a very deep level.

Woodson speaks about Lin, as if he doesn’t recognize that Lin essentially saved the season, just like Melo saved the season in April for the Knicks. Woodson needs to recognize this and give Lin the level of respect Lin has earned. He talks about Lin as if he’s any other young player that needs to be taught so much about the game. The way Woodson talks about Lin disregards everything Lin has done for the Knicks. That’s what’s condescending and raises alarms for me about Woodson coaching Lin. This, above all else, is why I think staying with the Knicks under coach Woodson will hold Jeremy back. I feel like under Woodson, Lin will keep having to prove himself.

Lin is at his best when he is trusted to lead the offense in the same way that Chandler leads the defense on the court for the Knicks. But there’s no way that Woodson would let a young player take on that role. But that’s what Lin excels at. It’s part of his game. And this brings me to Melo. A lot of people have been talking abut Melo’s ability to play nice with his teammates. At first, I thought all this talk was over-hyped and didn’t really buy into all of it. Now I’m not so sure. I think he went into Iso-Melo mode late in the season because both Lin and Stat were out and he was the only consistent scorer. But he seemed to really relish it and he seems to really excel when he’s the only offensive option on the court. There’s nothing wrong with this, necessarily. It’s just the way he plays best. And Melo needs a group of guys around him who support this type of offense. Stat isn’t that supporting cast for Melo and neither is Jeremy. That’s why the whole thing has been such a struggle and Knicks management is to blame, not the players. Not Melo. Not Stat. Not Lin. Not even the coach.

Jeremy Lin’s talents would go to waste alongside Melo, because they essentially play similar roles. Okay, I get that they play different positions, but they’re both guys who are comfortable shooting from anywhere and driving to the lane. The only difference is that Lin is also looking to pass when he drives into traffic, whereas Melo is primarily looking to score. Again, no knock on Melo. That’s just the way he plays. He’s a talented and prolific scorer. A scorer who doesn’t need an aggressive Point Guard. Melo just needs someone to pass him the ball and stay in the perimeter so he can pass it out if he gets double-teamed. It’s more important that Melo’s point guard can shoot rather than drive and create. So that’s another reason why I think staying with the Knicks would hold Jeremy back. Playing with Melo would limit his opportunities to do what he does best, which is to explode to the basket and create for himself or for his teammates, depending on what the defense gives him.

Finally, Woodson’s primary job on the offensive end, or at least the thing he will be most  focused on during training camp is to resolve the whole debate on whether or not Melo and Stat can coexist. Lin is that answer for Woodson. So under Woodson, Lin’s primary (if not sole) job would be to help solve the whole “can Melo and Stat” coexist debate. So all Woodson wants for Lin to do is become almost purely a passer and give Stat and Melo the ball where they like it. However, Lin is at his best when he’s creating ALMOST EQUALLY for himself and his teammates. He’s not a traditional point guard who is purely a passer. He’s also a very talented scorer, as I’ve mentioned. But Woodson would train the scorer out of Lin and Woodson would be right to do so. Turning Lin into almost purely a passer might be GOOD for the Knicks, but not good for Lin’s development. You combine Woodson’s core objective on the offensive end (i.e., resolving the Melo/Stat co-existing debate), Woodson’s love of superstars, Woodson’s distrust of young players, Woodson’s lack of adequate respect for Lin (that’s proportional to what Lin has done for the Knicks) and it’s not hard to see that Lin’s talents will go to waste staying with Woodson/Melo Knicks.

I would love to see Lin with the Knicks for my own selfish reasons, since I enjoy rooting for Lin and the Knicks. I actually enjoy watching all of the Knicks players. Every single one of them is enjoyable to watch–with the exception of Baron Davis. And I’m also a big fan of Chandler, Shump and Novak. But Lin should find a coach and organization that respects Lin’s game and his being. Unfortunately, I just don’t think that’s with the Knicks. If Lin does end up with the Knicks, which is very likely, then he should not sign a multi-year contract.

I think Lin needs to go to a place where he can be trusted to run the offense on the floor. Jeremy Lin is a rare point guard who is also a talented scorer. So he needs to go to a place where he’s one of the primary scoring options. If D Williams leaves the Nets, then that’s a team that comes to mind. However, I admittedly don’t know anything about the coach there, so can’t say for sure if it’s the right place for Lin. The advantage is that he’ll be able to stay in New York–a big media market. Lin may also benefit from going to a team that’s in a re-building phase, such as the Portland Trailblazers or even the Bobcats. Sure, he won’t be contending for a title, but at least he’ll be able to develop his game and keep improving as a player, which is more important for him now than getting rings.

I’m confident that with Lin’s support network of family and friends, as well his own wisdom and intelligence, Lin will come to the same conclusion and do everything in his power to avoid signing with the Knicks. I hope this is why he has been so hesitant about his future with the Knicks during interviews.

In my ideal world, Lin, Chandler, Novak, and Shump would be in a team without Melo and Woodson. Again, not hating on Melo or Woodson. It’s more about the chemistry of the players. Everyone is talented in their own right, but it’s the right combinations of players that’s crucial for a team to compete for a ring and this is what the Knicks organization seem to fail at time and time again.

Side Note: Perhaps my worst fear would be for Lin to feel like he owes D’Antoni something and joins D’Antoni for a number of reasons. Sure, D’Antoni’s system is a dream for point guards of Lin’s caliber, because it allows him the freedom to create. I think that’s great, but I just have zero respect for D’Antoni as a coach, so I don’t think Lin will get much out of the relationship, whereas D’Antoni will get everything. This is an oversimplification, but I see D’Antoni as a very lazy coach that just sits back, tells his guys to spread the floor and has his point guard do all the work for him. This way, he doesn’t have to run any actual plays. All he needs is a talented point guard and players to buy completely into a spread offense and voila!

To me, this is not good coaching. D’Antoni misses many aspects of the game and I’ve pointed out in my previous posts his blatant substitution and timeout mistakes during games. More importantly, he can’t get his players to play defense or do all the little things that wins games, such has dive for loose balls, rebound, etc. And the reason he can’t get players to do these things is because of his main weakness, which is his inability to communicate and motivate his players. He’s too laid back to energize his players.

From his post game interviews, I don’t get any confidence that he knows the game on a deep level. He doesn’t understand the psychology of the game and can’t make adjustments. How can he make adjustments when his only tool is to spread the floor and have the point guard do all the work? This is why the Knicks had such terrible 3rd quarters under D’Antoni. Opposing coaches would make adjustments at halftime, whereas D’Antoni has nothing to adjust, because he only has one tool. And while his offense gives the point guard a lot of freedom to maneuver, it leaves the point guard extremely vulnerable, because the defense knows that all you have to do is take out the point guard. In that sense, D’Antoni’s offense is very predictable, so a talented defensive team like Miami can exploit it.

Aside from this, the biggest reason why I don’t want Lin to go with D’Antoni is because if he does well, everyone will keep saying that Lin is a product of D’Antoni’s system. So, again, his accomplishments will be discounted. I don’t buy that Lin is a product of D’Antoni’s system. Even Nash, who was coached by D’Antoni, went out of his way during Linsanity to disagree with most analysts, saying that Lin isn’t a product of D’Antoni’s system. Lin is a hyper-aggressive point guard who is talented and comfortable scoring the ball from anywhere on the court and has the ability to explode to the lane to create for himself or his teammates depending on what the defense gives him. So, yeah, Lin benefits from a spread offense. So if that’s what people mean, then they need to say that. But I think whenever they say Lin is a product of D’Antoni’s system, it sounds as if they’re discounting Lin’s talents. That Lin is a one-dimensional guard that can only play under D’Antoni. And there’s nothing further from the truth. But if Lin sticks with D’Antoni, this myth will follow him through his young career. In other words, you don’t hear anyone saying Nash is a product of D’Antoni’s system, do you?

Related Post: https://jeremylintelligence.wordpress.com/2012/04/08/more-evidence-that-woodson-is-a-good-coach/

Jeremy Lin loses an award he clearly deserves when NBA players do the voting

Jeremy Lin was a finalist for the Sportsmanship award, as well as Most Improved, but lost both awards. You can make arguments against him receiving MIP, such as it’s more that he was overlooked last year, rather than he improved from last year. Although he did do a ton of work in the off-season last summer to change many aspects of his game and conditioning.  But, whatever, I’m okay with him not winning MIP. But I don’t see how he wasn’t a lock to win the Sportsmanship Award–not that it’s such a coveted award. But if you’re giving out awards, then I would think the whole idea is to give the award to someone who deserves it. And when someone comes along who exemplifies the ideals of the award, then you should be tripping all over yourself to give it to this person. Now I don’t know exactly what the Sportsmanship award is for, but if it is as self-explanatory as it sounds, then not only should Jeremy receive the award, they should rename it to the Jeremy Lin Sportsmanship Award (currently, it’s named after Joe Dumars). Okay, admittedly, it’s too early to name an award after him, but you get what I’m saying.

Jeremy Lin represents the ideals of sportsmanship in every way. So much so that I feel stupid even pointing out all the reasons he should receive it. I think it’s obvious to everyone, it seems, except to NBA players who get to vote on the award. So rather than pointing out all the obvious reasons, I will give a little example that might not be so obvious. I remember that in the game against the Nets in which the Knicks lost and Deron Williams scorched him and the Knicks for 38 points, Lin came up to Humphries after the game to tell Humphries that he doesn’t think it’s right that Knicks fans kept booing him throughout the game (because of his infamous divorce with Kim Kardashian). I mean, can you imagine any other NBA player doing something like this? Jeremy Lin does the right thing, even when no one is looking. That’s the mark of sportsmanship and that’s the mark of character.

It’s no coincidence that when NBA players vote on an award that Lin clearly deserves (e.g., Sportsmanship), he doesn’t get it. But when NBA players aren’t involved in the voting, Lin gets the recognition he deserves (e.g., Time 100 Most Influential, Forbes Top 10 Most Influential Athletes, etc.).  And on top of that, the NBA and Knicks organization still haven’t shown any support for Lin’s Time 100, Forbes Top 10, etc. recognition. I think it all has to do with NBA player jealousy towards Lin. It’s unfortunate, because he’s such a decent person. It’s not his fault that he’s gotten a lot of attention. It’s not like he’s going out there trying to get all the attention. In fact, he’s gone out of his way to move the spotlight away from him.

Lin and those magical weeks of Linsanity  is a gift. We should all just be thankful, rather than letting our human failings (envy, prejudice, etc.) get in the way of receiving this gift humbly.

RELATED POST: https://jeremylintelligence.wordpress.com/2012/04/20/why-jeremy-lin-deserves-the-top-spot-on-time-100/

How the Bi-Polar Knicks can Pull off the Impossible

The Knicks have had the most roller-coaster season of high highs and low lows. This makes them probably one of the most interesting teams to follow in the NBA this season. So if this Bi-Polar nature of the Knicks continues into the playoffs, then can we expect the Knicks to pull off the impossible and win four straight against the Heat?

The Knicks ended the season on a high note. It seemed like everything was finally coming together. The chemistry was high, Melo finally got his offensive rhythm back in a big way and Stat was back. But once the playoffs started, the wheels fell off in a big way. Chandler came down with a bad case of the flu out of nowhere, Shump tore his ACL out of nowhere and Stat had a freak accident after expressing his frustration after losing Game 2. It doesn’t get any lower than this. So does this mean that it’s time for things to turn around in a big way for the Knicks? It seems as if the stage could be set for that. And if any team could pull off the impossible and win the series after being down 0-3 it would be this Bi-Polar Knicks team.

Here’s how I think the impossible can happen. I’m not saying this is likely, but I’m not ruling it out either. You can call it wishful thinking if you like. But judging from the Bi-Polar nature of the Knicks this season it wouldn’t surprise me. I mean it wouldn’t be crazy for the Knicks to win Game 4. Their backs are against the wall and maybe the Heat may get a little complacent. Also, sweeping a team in the playoffs isn’t an easy task. So I think the Knicks can pull off a win in Game 4 just to save face. So lets say they win Game 4. In Game 5, Lin returns, along with Stat. When this happens, the Heat will be facing a drastically different Knicks team. The only concern I have is that Lin will probably be rusty coming back after being away for so long. But if he shakes off his rust, he is the key missing component. With Lin on the floor, Melo and Stat can co-exist. That’s the key thing that some people miss when they point to stats that show Melo and Stat can’t co-exist. The only stat that I think matters is the 6-1 record the Knicks had when Woodson took over with Stat and Lin on the court. The Knicks weren’t just winning games, they were blowing teams out.

The main reason why the Knicks have been losing during this series (aside from just simply being out-manned due to so many of our key guys being out or not 100%,) is that our offense has been extremely stagnant. With Lin on the floor, we’ll have better ball movement and guys will also be more motivated to move without the ball. Both of these things have been completely absent during this series so far and we looked especially bad offensively in Game 3. So if Lin brings back some movement in our offense, as well as new energy, then the Heat are facing a completely different team. It’ll be our big four (Melo, Chandler, Stat, Lin) against their big three and our deep bench (minus Shump) versus their less impressive bench. This is why I think this Bi-Polar Knicks team is the perfect team to do the impossible and come back from 0-3 down, because we’re two different teams. The team that went down 0-3 won’t be the team the Heat face in Game 5 and on (if we win game 4 and Stat and Lin come back to play in game 5). I’m not saying it’s likely or even probable. But I’m just saying that the proper ingredients are there for the impossible to happen. And the impossible is the identity of Jeremy Lin, so I wouldn’t rule it out.

So lets just take it a game at a time. Focus on winning game 4 then we could be facing a completely new series game 5 and on.

Poor offense lost Game 3, once again. Woodson is to blame.

The guys played hard in game 3 with a lot of energy–especially Smith. So can’t fault them. Just didn’t have enough bodies and Woodson did a poor job of managing minutes. Guys were dead tired by fourth quarter–especially Melo. Woodson has a big problem with not trusting young guys. Like in Game 1, I have no idea why he played Chandler. Chandler was completely out of it on account of the flu. Should have trusted Harrelson/Jeffries to fill the load.

I like Woodson, but he has no game plan offensively. In all three games, we looked terrible offensively and in yesterday’s game we looked probably the worst. The only reason it was close until the 4th is because our defense and high energy kept us in the game. And the only reason it was close in Game 2 is that we hit very tough shots. Every possession has been a struggle for us, because our offense is ridiculously easy to guard. We have poor spacing, guys don’t move without the ball and we don’t swing the ball side-to-side and in-and-out. The simplest fix is to have guys move around without the ball. I just see one guy dribbling and everyone else just stands around in their spots and watches. I think players aren’t moving, because they don’t know where they’re supposed to be moving to, because we don’t have offensive sets that we run. But I think they should just tell players to move around and get open and not worry too much about where they should be on the court. Moving around randomly is way better than being stagnant. If you don’t have a good offensive plan, then why not just tell your guys to move around and get to open places? It’s so obvious to me.

Woodson just doesn’t have it offensively. But the main issue is that we’re just simply out-manned. So many key players are injured or are not 100% during this series. Chandler wasn’t 100% until the last game. That’s why our defense was so good in the last game. If the Knicks beat the Heat with the lineup we currently have, I’d be totally pissed if I was Heat management.

Who knows? Maybe we can get a game and they bring Lin (and Stat) back in game 5 for some new energy (Melo and Stat can coexist only with Lin (or a good point guard) on the floor with them). And then if Lin comes back and helps the Knicks do the impossible, then I think every Knicks fan has to convert to Christianity, because that would definitely be a sign!

Knicks lost game 2 because of poor offense

People like to say things, because it sounds good, without really thinking about it. A lot of Knicks fans keep saying that we need to step up our defense. I mean, that’s of course an obvious point. But without Shump and Chandler not 100%, I think the defense is what it is. I actually don’t think the defense was particularly terrible. It’s just Miami’s offense was incredible in game 2. They passed the ball side to side and in and out, making it very difficult to defend. I think even Miami’s defense would have trouble defending their offense in game 2. So I don’t really blame Knicks defense for losing game 2. It sounds good to say that we needed to step up our defense, but that’s speaking in a vacuum. I like to talk about things as they are. The reality was that Chandler wasn’t 100% in game two and we were missing our best on-ball defender in Shump. Amare is also terrible on defense and that’s known. Can’t really change that. So I think the defense that we got from the Knicks in game 2 is to be expected. It is what it is. So can’t really criticize it.

What we can criticize and what is simple to solve is the poor spacing and terrible ball movement. Knicks players were all bunched together to one side and there would only be one pass before a shot is made. It makes it very difficult to move the ball if all your players are bunched together. This is an easy thing to solve. Sure, Miami is a great defensive team, but I think any old team could have clamped down on our stagnant offense in Game 2. It’s not hard, because you know exactly where the ball is going and guys are just standing around. I hope Knicks look at the tape and see what Miami did on offense. They had great spacing and moved the ball side to side and in and out before a shot is taken. They also moved well without the ball, cutting to the basket, getting open shots, etc. I don’t care how good of a defensive team you are, it makes it very difficult to defend if the ball is zipping around the court like a pin ball and guys are moving all over the place. It’s hard to stay on your man when you’re reacting to the ball movement. That’s what the Knicks need to do against Miami. Without Amare in Game 3, I think the spacing will be better so I’m optimistic.

But Knicks have terrible luck in the playoffs. Going into the playoffs, the Knicks had so much chemistry, but whatever chemistry we have left was shattered by Stat’s irresponsible act of frustration. Knicks should have tried something different in the last game and have Stat come off the bench, like I suggested. This way, Amare would get the touches he deserves. Stat should have swallowed his pride and just volunteered to come off the bench when he came back from his injury for the remainder of the season/playoffs (and wait next season to make it work with him and Melo on the court at the same time). Without Jeremy Lin (or a good point guard), Stat and Melo can’t exist, because there’s no one to give Stat the ball where he likes it. Stat should have known this. I think the coaching staff knew this, but didn’t want to have to deal with the politics of bringing Stat off the bench. Stat and Melo only work together when Jeremy Lin is on the court. If Stat came off the bench, he would have been able to dominate Miami’s second unit and give us an advantage. Everyone would be happy and he wouldn’t have ended up punching the glass casing of a fire extinguisher. Was his pride worth that?

Now he’s brought the whole team down with this one impulsive act. Things always end up getting worse for the Knicks. On Saturday, getting blown out wasn’t the worst thing, Shump going down was. And yesterday, losing game 2 isn’t the worst thing, Stat shattering the team chemistry is.