Jeremy Lin got a chance to play this past Saturday against the Nets, backing up Iman Shumpert at point guard for the Knicks. Six points, three rebounds and three assists in the first half later and Lin found himself on the court for most of the second half in a Knicks' win.
It wasn't just the numbers that were impressive about Lin, either. The former Harvard point guard gave the team a spark they haven't had all season; the kind of spark that can be provided by a player who is a natural point guard.
Lin enjoyed a huge second half with his extended playing time, finishing the game with 25 points, seven assists and five rebounds. His passes led to multiple easy baskets for teammates, including difficult alley-oop passes perfectly thrown between multiple Nets defenders that he made look easy.
Many questioned whether Lin could match his success on Monday against Utah and, with the exception of an unsightly eight turnovers, he was actually better. Lin, who has spent much of the season in the D-League, put up 28 points with eight assists and helped the Knicks beat a solid Jazz team without the absent Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony, who limped off the court early with a strained groin.
Nobody in their right mind thinks that Lin can continue to score 25-plus points per game and push double-digit assists every night, but he can certainly continue to contribute. Let's also not forget the eight turnovers and the fact that both of these games were at home; playing on the road adversely affects every NBA role player.
The Knicks travel to Washington tonight to face John Wall and the Wizards and, while Washington is one of the NBA's worst teams, it will be interesting to watch the undrafted Lin go up against last year's first overall pick in Wall.
Wall is one of the fastest players in the league and can definitely make life tough on Lin at both ends of the court, as Lin is nowhere near the athlete Wall is. Rather, Lin relies on his basketball IQ (he did go to Harvard) to get the most out of his talent.
I can see Lin being productive tonight and in the next week or so, but his 56% shooting (20-for-36) won't continue and he may turn it over three or four times a night. Considering the Knicks already lead the league in turnovers and have struggled at the point this season, those may not be that big of a deal if he continues to penetrate effectively and open up opportunities for his teammates.
With Baron Davis' return perpetually on the horizon and now pushed back until the All-Star Break, Lin will have a few weeks to prove he's not just a flash in the pan. Once Stoudemire returns Monday and Anthony about a week later, the young point guard should settle in around 12-13 points per game and dish out five or six assists as well.
The only major issue with Lin's game is his lack of range as a jump shooter. He hit just one three-pointer in his two big games and will need to work on his ability to stretch the floor to stay effective. Rajon Rondo can do that, but Lin can't rival his athletic ability. Regardless, Lin will remain easy to root for as a surprise solution to the Knicks' biggest problem.
(Photo courtesy of businessinsider.com)
Follow Chris Tripodi on Twiiter: @christripodi