Tag Archives: point guard

Jeremy Lin’s deadly set of offensive weapons

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.

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Jeremy Lin is the real deal

There are many skeptical analysts and fans about the sensation that is Jeremy Lin. There is certainly some logic/reason for this, as the sample size is simply too small and two to three games does not make a player.

I questioned whether he could sustain such a high level of play after hisfirst sensational game against the NJ Nets. Logic and history suggested that once teams actually prepare for him and adjust defensively, he would struggle. Still, like most, I believed the Knicks at the very least found a temporary solution until they can get Baron Davis back.

After watching Lin lead the Knicks as a starter for two more convincing victories, however, I am now fully convinced that a star has been born.

What I am not sold on are those that claim that Lin is one of the following:  fluke, competent, solid second stringer, and regress to the mean(whatever that means).

There are eight(considered a lucky number in Chinese culture) strong reasons to believe Lin’s accomplishments are far from a fluke or a one week wonder:

1. Sees the floor and understands developing plays, as well as knowing who to pass to in what situation

2. Excellent decision maker on the pick and roll and executes the pass

3. Excellent ball handler; keeps dribble alive and low; effective hesitation dribble

4. Plays at a controlled and comfortable pace and stays patient. Stays within the flow of the game

5. Ability to score and finish at the rim with a variety of moves makes him a multidimensional asset

6. Defensively sound and gets after it; good help defender

7. Size. At 6’3″ and 200lbs, he is actually one of the bigger point guards in the league with deceptive athleticism and quickness

8. Selfless. Lack of ego allows him to only care about the correct plays instead of focusing on any personal agenda on the floor

The qualities listed aren’t flukes or the result of a hot streak. They are permanent qualities that aren’t going to suddenly disappear. The description of his qualities formulate to a point guard that can dominate games if given the reigns.

He has been given the reigns.

Mike D’Antoni certainly seems to agree, and what he thinks is relevant because none of this happens if D’Antoni doesn’t give Lin a chance to play. And so much of the NBA is about the chance and opportunity to showcase talent.

Mike D’Antoni:  “I think it’s for real. The things that are real are his vision, which won’t change; his speed, which won’t change; his knowledge of the game, which won’t change. I think it can only get better.”

Some of Lin’s weaknesses include the following:  a suspect jump shot, lack of range, and weak going to the left. The fact of the matter is, there is no player that doesn’t have weaknesses. Everyone has flaws, and to write off a player because of certain weaknesses would be a mistake. I remember when doubt rose about a certain Frenchman point guard that could not shoot consistently early in his career. How did that turn out?

Another argument brought up is the fact that Lin’s ridiculous streak of dominance came against terrible teams. The problem with that argument is the Knicks have been one of those terrible teams. They were supposed to be astronomically bad when both Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony were lost for various reasons. It was supposed to be the reason for why the Knicks would lose games in their absence, not an excuse for why Lin would dominate because of it.

Of the three games Lin dominated, two of them were mostly played with the following lineup:  Lin, Fields, Walker, Jeffries, Chandler. On paper, it is arguably one of the worst if not the worst NBA lineup in the league. Lin should be praised the way he praises the Lord for winning despite such dire circumstances. Anyone simply looking at who the Knicks played to get the wins isn’t looking at the circumstances of why the Knicks should not have won.

The one argument I can agree with is the fact that he is unlikely to continue this torrid pace. He has averaged 25 points, 3.7 rebounds and 8.3 assists on a blistering 58% from the field. Though that likely wraps him up for a player of the week honors, it would be foolish to believe those are sustainable averages especially when the starters come back.

Just because he can’t sustain those types of numbers, it does not mean he can’t sustain a dominant level of play which is what matters the most. He does not have to average 25 points per game to be as equally as effective as he has been.

Remember, this is not some 29 year old from overseas that is about to pass his prime. He is only a second year player at the age of 23 with an accomplished background. There are reasons to doubt his current pace, but there is no reason to doubt his skill sets that allowed him to accomplish the current pace.

A close look into Stephen Curry’s 3rd season

This season has been a deja vu of sorts for the 3rd year NBA star point guard Stephen Curry. Simply put, that means this season has been a disaster for him thus far.

Just after the lock out ended, I was given the honor of having a chat session with Curry. Long story short, Curry held a contest and I won. During the conversation, I asked him my most concerning question which was the status of his surgically repaired right ankle.

“100% ready to go,” he said.

When I told him how relieved I was of hearing that news, he somewhat joked that he “probably did it once a week last season”, but that surgery was definitely the fixer upper.

Fast forward to his second preseason game against the Kings, without any warning or sign of a significant turn, Curry’s ankle gave out while guarding Jimmer Fredette with less than a minute left in the first half. He did the all-too-familiar limp and swing of both arms before crumpling to the floor. It was a demoralizing and confusing moment for Curry who did all the right things up to that point and had no reason to question whether he would re-injure the ankle again. The scariest thing about the ankle turn was that it did not happen on a basketball play nor did it look like a typical sprain.

Thankfully, the MRI showed no structural damage. He sat out the next 4 days without any basketball activity before making the decision to give it a go for the season opener against the new look Clippers. Many were concerned that Curry was coming back too soon. He was clearly rusty as he shot 2-12 from the floor and even missed his lone free throw attempt. The Warriors ended up losing the game 105-86, as they lost complete control down the stretch. The great news, however, was that Curry’s ankle survived and seemed mostly okay.

Then came the second game of the season where Curry absolutely torched Derrick Rose and the Bulls on his way to a spectacular night. He was well on his way to a triple double with 21 points, 7 rebounds, 10 assists, and 6 steals. This was a clear sign that his ankle was, in fact, feeling much better. Even clearer was the fact that Curry had the potential and ability to be a dominant point guard in this league all the while co-existing with Ellis, proving doubters like Tim Kawakami and Matt Steinmetz wrong.

However, disaster struck again with a little more than half way to go in the fourth quarter. He went up for a floater on a fast break and as he came down, he stepped on Kyle Korver’s sorry ass foot (I hate when players are careless about where they leave their foot against another person coming down from the air) and sprained his surgically repaired right ankle. It was a disheartening moment for Curry and Warriors fans yet again. The Warriors barely hung on to win the game, but the win was completely dampened by Curry’s situation. The one positive to take from the situation was that for once, he sprained his ankle on a basketball play. All tests came back negative once again, and he would only sit out one game against the Knicks.

He came back against the Sixers going 9-15 from the field for 21 points but also turned the ball over 5 times. The Warriors were offensively challenged all around as Monta Ellis was out of the lineup and David Lee had an incredibly cold shooting night, on their way to the worst blowout of the season.

He finally had an awful game against the Suns without any reasonable excuse. He reached and committed needless and costly fouls on his way to 5 fouls in 23 minutes of play. I’m sure he heard what he needed from Mark Jackson in regards to that game. It felt like he wanted no part of the game, and the Warriors lost.

Then came his second spectacular performance of the season against the Spurs on the road. Tony Parker could do nothing to contain Curry as he cruised through 3 quarters with a cool 20 points, 8 assists and 2 turnovers and well on his way to a 30/10 game, before the final disaster to date happened.

Curry came up with a loose ball, looked up to make his signature full court pass for his ninth assist, and suddenly threw the ball away and crumpled to the floor. All anyone could think was “oh lord not again”. Indeed, Curry sprained his ankle for the 3rd time in less than 2 weeks. Worst of all, he did it once again without anyone near him. His foot simply seemed to slip a bit as he put pressure on it and the ankle was tweaked just like that, new shoes and all. The basketball world may never have seen this kind of situation in the past. I certainly never have.

Everyone held their breath for yet another MRI. Once again, it somehow came back negative. The team held him out for nearly two weeks this time, and he would end up missing 8 games, much like last season when he sprained his ankle on his own against the Spurs. I wasn’t kidding when I said deja vu. The difference between last season and this season is that he was playing with torn ligaments last season, while it is structurally sound this season.

Many theories have been brought up regarding his ankle and why it keeps happening from the type of shoes he wears to just the way he steps on his foot with every step. He will certainly have to address and study these issues in the off season.

Curry has been back now for 4 games. With the exception of one game, he has generally been inconsistent all around. It is clear that he is still not 100% from the ankle sprains. This is evident when he drives to the basket, which he hasn’t really done at all unless he is wide open. He is unsure of which foot to take off of and in turn, loses focus on finishing the actual layup.

This is not the Curry I know. This is not the Curry that goes up for dunks(albeit softly) on fast breaks. This is not the Curry that had five 30 point 10 assist games in his rookie season, bested only by Lebron James and Dwyane Wade. This is not the Curry that can get into the paint to disrupt opponent’s defenses and make certain big men look silly with his signature fakes. I can only wait for him to feel more comfortable with his ankle before we see the real Curry that can still dominate for the rest of this season. When healthy, he has the talent to be a top 5 point guard in the league.

Honestly, I won’t be able to watch another Warriors game comfortably without cringing at every Curry flail for the next 5 games or so. If this is how I feel watching him, imagine how he must feel. It has to still be in his head. The believers are waiting for the ankle to feel better so that he can play more games like he did against the Bulls and the Spurs and help save the Warriors season. I am certainly one of those believers. The balance of the Warriors season depends on the return of Curry in a healthy state of mind. If the ankle bothers him throughout the season, we won’t see the real Curry and the Warriors season will be lost once again.

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