The buzz in the NBA right now is all about Jeremy Lin. And why not? In his first start of his career, the New York Knicks point guard put up 28 points, eight assists and two steals. Totaling that with his effort against the Nets in his last game, that’s a total of 53 points, 15 dimes and four steals.
That’s pretty good and Golden State Warriors fans are probably pulling their hair. After a pretty unimpressive rookie season last year, the Warriors cut ties with Lin after the lockout in an attempt to free up cap space to bring in DeAndre Jordan. That trade never happened and the Warriors were unable to sign Lin back.
Now Lin is flourishing in New York while the Warriors are desperate for that big spark plug player. But maybe the Warriors fans’ bitterness toward losing Lin isn’t warranted at all.
When the Warriors brought in Lin, they didn’t really know what to do with him. He became a novelty and a local hero. Being the first Asian-American player in the league and having grown up in nearby Palo Alto as a Warriors fan, it was a match made in heaven for the public relations team.
But on the court, Lin was not used well. In fact, he was used sparingly as he bounced from the Warriors bench to the D-League and back to the bench. When on the court, Lin was hesitant to drive to the hoop. His jumper was mediocre and really didn’t demand a floor presence.
It wasn’t the right offense for him.
Because the offense didn’t allow him opportunities to excel (like maybe some pick and rolls), he never had a chance to play his game. He was stuck running an offense that had no direction.
In New York under Mike D’Antoni, the offense was a perfect fit. Lin was given the option to drive, run pick and rolls and just be the basketball player he knows he can be. That’s why in these two recent games, we’ve seen an offensive explosion from him.
These two games are a small sample size of what Lin could become. It’s not enough to make a fair judgment of what kind of basketball player he could be. Warriors fans need to remember that.
Had Lin remained with the Warriors, he wouldn’t be a starter like he is with the Knicks. There was no possible way he could have supplanted Stephen Curry’s role as a starter — even during that time Curry was out with an ankle injury. Curry is the team’s point guard of the future.
Also, the new Warriors offense isn’t all that explosive. It’s very different from what New York has and it’s hard to imagine Lin duplicating those efforts in a Warriors uniform.
Golden State released Lin because they wanted to get better. They were hoping that that move would get them a center they desperately needed. It was a trade that would have fit in perfectly with Mark Jackson’s defensive-minded approach. That’s the direction the Warriors are going in now.
New York is running what the old Warriors used to be. A fast-paced offense is what Lin is excelling in. That’s where he shines.
Lin is still a work in progress. On Monday, Lin turned the ball over eight times — a sign of his development as a player. He is likely going to come back down to earth in the next couple games and all this hype, talk will die down with it.
He was a novelty in the Bay Area and people loved him for it. But he didn’t belong. It wasn’t the right fit for him then and it still isn’t today. Had he stayed, he probably would have still been a bench player and decelerated Jackson’s new direction for the team.
But in New York, he has found an offense and opportunity that fits him perfectly. Now it’s time to say “good for him”.
Warriors fans shouldn’t be bitter. They should be happy that one of their favorites is finally free and has found a home where he belongs.
Side note: I covered Lin’s NBA regular season debut last year and when talking to him in the locker room after the game, he was very humbled and was a professional. I am very glad that I had that opportunity cover him for that one game.
After that night, I was eating with my friends at the Denny’s nearby and saw that Lin was with his family eating there too. He obliged to taking a photo with us. He’s a good guy and I am glad he’s having fun.