By now, the story of Jeremy Lin has been beyond well documented and most are well aware of what he has done for the Knicks, coming out of nowhere from blah blah blah. Let me spare all the formalities of discussing his background and get straight to the point.
Jeremy Lin is unstoppable on offense.
That sentiment is not a hyperbole. I have discussed Lin’s qualities as a point guard here, but did not previously have enough games to evaluate his abilities as an offensive weapon. Point guards, or any guard for that matter, don’t usually possess the type of all around skill sets Lin has shown purely from a scoring stand point. It’s not unfair to say this aspect of his game has been somewhat overlooked because of the focus on how well he can or cannot run the team as the point guard. Lets look at all the combination of qualities he has displayed on the offensive end thus far.
1. Blow by first step – I have yet to see a single player that can stay in front of Lin on isolation situations. This allows him to consistently create for himself (and others of course). Contrary to what he does for the team, no one else really creates any shots for Lin.
2. Consistent mid-range jump shot – Early word was that he had a spotty jump shot. It’s safe to say that that’s been proven wrong with consistent playing time. He has shot 23-of-38 for a robust 60.5% from 10 feet to the 3-point line on the season
3. Long range jump shot – Since taking over the starting job, Lin has shot 38.5% from 3-point range going 10-of-26 in the span of eight games, including a game winning dagger against the Raptors
4. Step back jump shot – His ball handling, including cross-over and hesitation, allows him to create separation to get a shot off at any time.
5. Quick release – It’s not a coincidence that not many defenders can bother Lin’s shot. Click the link for details.
6. Floater in the paint – He knows when to take the floater when the defense fails to recover on time instead of trying to finish at the basket every time with a hand in the face. Many point guards fail at this part of the game, as the mid-range game is one of the toughest to master.
7. A strong finisher at the rim - The guy can flat out finish baskets with either hand, a valuable asset for point guards. He has converted 35-of-60 shots at the rim including two dunks, good for 58% on the season.
8. Create contact and finish – This is where his underrated size comes into play. At 6’3″ and 200lbs, he can take a solid hit from the biggest players in the world and still finish at the rim. Lin already has 12 and-one plays. His aggressive style of play often forces the whistle(though still not enough in my opinion) to be blown. This means two things: get the opposition in foul trouble, and get to the line consistently. As a starter, he has averaged over 8 attempts per game from the free throw line. Converting them is another story (70.8%).
9. Shot selection – How often do you see a player taking an absolutely ill-advised shot? Too often by my count. Just about every shot he takes comes from what the defense gives him rather than because he is on a hot streak. No “heat check” shots from Lin.
10. Fearless and clutch – As good as Lin has been, he saves the best for last. In the fourth quarter, he has shot 29-of-54 for 53.7%, besting his first three quarters by nearly 6%. He becomes a tougher offensive player when the moment gets bigger.
At the end of the day, we have a point guard who, through the first 8 starts of his career, has led his team to a 7-1 record shooting 50.7% from the field and averaged 25 points on 17.8 attempts per game.
Usually, you don’t want your point guard to shoot nearly 18 times per game. When he converts more than 50% of them, however, it becomes a necessity to utilize it. Indeed, among all starting point guards that attempts at least 10 shots per game, Lin’s field goal percentage trails only the player he is often compared to these days: Steve Nash. We’ve seen the criticism of heavy shooting point guards such as Russell Westbrook and Derrick Rose in the past for shooting too much at times, but they’d get far less criticism if they converted 50% or more of those shots.
It takes a truly cerebral and special offensive talent to possess and execute so many weapons. From a scoring stand point, he is one of the most sound players we have seen in a long time at the point guard position. His passing is very good, turnovers and all, but his ability to find players largely stems from what he can do offensively. It should be difficult to figure out when to shoot and when to pass when you are so efficient at such a young age, but again, he has found a way to to do both based on what the defense gives him. As he often says about the opposition’s defense, “something has to give”.
If Lin can bring up his free throw percentage, look out. Anyone that wonders whether Lin can continue to play well with the return of Carmelo Anthony, ask yourselves if his skill sets are suddenly going to disappear. As long as the ball starts with Lin, we will continue to witness a special talent evolve before our eyes. Because of Lin, the Knicks are contenders in the making this season. This season.
I’ll save that for another day though.