By Benjamin Liu
This has been a tumultuous month for Jeremy Lin, the first American-born Chinese (or American-born Taiwanese) NBA player.
After starting for the first time in February, he was able to lead the New York Knicks to seven straight victories virtually without All-Stars Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire.
It was expected that when the two returned, the Knicks would only have more firepower, but the ball club instead found itself struggling.
Lin and Stoudemire have worked well with each other in the pick-and-roll because Stoudemire thrived under a similar offensive scheme in Phoenix. Lin and Anthony, on the other hand, have yet to find the same balance because Anthony demands the ball for isolation plays, a style of play that doesn’t depend on Lin’s presence on the floor.
Lin’s scoring output has also seen a decline since the team’s two main scorers have returned.
Now that his hot streak has cooled down, the question is whether he can continue to play at a high level. Many believe that Lin only thrived under coach Mike D’Antoni’s fast-paced offense.
When D’Antoni resigned and was subsequently replaced by Mike Woodson, Linsanity was thought to be completely over. Woodson has stressed two main points in his coaching career that were expected to lead to more bench time for Lin.
He relies heavily on veteran players, following famed coach Red Holzman’s standard that “rookies were to sit and listen and learn.” Woodson also sets up half-court plays where the tempo is slowed down so superstars like Anthony can create their own offense through isolation plays.
What has been surprising is that Lin is still in the starting lineup despite Woodson’s coaching philosophies. This may be attributed to Woodson’s desire to avoid the same pressure from fans that led to D’Antoni’s resignation.
Despite all the skepticism, Lin has the resources and ability to become a greater player who will bring Linsanity to a whole new level. He is still young, and playing regular minutes gives him the experience that he needs.
For those who criticize his turnovers, it is possible for him to improve his ball-handling as a point guard. (He played the shooting guard position in college, and it was only during his transition to the NBA that he changed his role.)
And it is certainly still possible for Lin and his All-Star teammates to find their rhythm. After opening March with six straight losses, they have since won seven of their last eight games.
Lin commented on the team’s progress after a recent 115-110 win against the Indiana Pacers, saying, “We have talked for a long time about finding our stride and coming together as a team, and I think that is what we are doing now. I think we have come together as a team. It’s good to see.”
As the Knicks have come together, Lin has been able to show the world that he is capable of running the team as its starting point guard. This is a testament to Lin’s offseason work ethic, which proved valuable when the Knicks needed it most.
With the proper system of training in place, there is nothing stopping Jeremy Lin from continuing to “Lin” in the Big Apple.