#17 Jeremy Lin, Point Guard
Weight: 200 lbs
2010 NBA Draft: Undrafted
Right now, the New York Giants are the undisputed Kings of New York, but if you're searching for an heir apparent, look no further than the Knicks' Jeremy Lin. On Saturday, the night before the Giants' Super Bowl win, Lin came off the bench to spark the Knickerbockers to a win over the Nets, likely saving his coach's job in the process. Last night he got his first NBA start, and didn't disappoint, leading the Knicks to their first back-to-back wins since January 11.
So, the Knicks' savior is an Asian-American point guard out of Harvard? The same guy that Madison Square Garden security guards still think is a trainer? A couple more games like the two he's posted so far, and Lin will get his own key to the city. But if you're under the impression that Jeremy Lin has had the average journey to his starting position in the mecca of basketball cities, think again. Linsanity, as he has been dubbed, is much more Complex than that.
Early Years: Son of Taiwanese immigrant Gie-Ming Lin, Jeremy began at Palo Alto High School in 2002, where he became the clear team leader and pushed his squad to a state championship in 2006. That same year, he moved to Harvard and came off the bench in his first season. His first official start came against Stanford on November 9, 2007, and he grew into an underrated star in an Ivy League conference that gets little to no attention. Lin stayed all four years, and as a senior in 2010, led the team to its winningest season in Harvard history with 21 victories and its first postseason appearance since 1946. His 16.4 points and 4.6 assists per game made him a finalist for the Bob Cousy (nation's top point guard) and John R. Wooden (national player of the year) awards. His 71 steals also put him at the top of the Ivy League for the third consecutive year.
NBA: Though Lin went undrafted in 2010, it didn't take much time to get picked up by the Dallas Mavericks' summer squad. He averaged 9.8 points, 3.2 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.2 steals per game during his stint and garnered a ton of attention when he upstaged No. 1 pick John Wall in a game against the Washington Wizards.
His buzz was enough to land him back in his home state, signing a deal with the Golden State Warriors, but he never saw much playing time. In late December 2010, he was sent to the National Basketball Development League (NBDL), and with the proper time on the court, excelled for the Reno Bighorns with 20.3 points, 5.8 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 2.8 steals per game. His success still wasn't enough. He was called back up only to ride the pine once again. To his disappointment, he was released after his single year, picked up in December 2011 by a guard-heavy Rockets team for a short time and dropped once again.
Days after being released by the Rockets, Lin was picked up by the team that would give him a real shot: The New York Knicks. For the first 15 games that Lin was on the Knicks roster, he compiled a total of 16 minutes. He didn't even set foot on the court for 10 of those games. It looked as though he was once again in a situation that would not present him an opportunity to shine. That was until he showed a flash of what could be on January 24 in a blowout against the Bobcats. In just six minutes, he dropped 8 points, 4 assists, 2 rebounds, and a block. Three games later against the Rockets, he saw 20 minutes time and scored 9 points, 6 assists, 3 rebounds, and a steal. Then the Nets rolled into town.
For all he knew, it was going to be another average night at the Garden. For all he knew, he might not even take his warm-ups off and would again end up playing iPad Monopoly on the plane wondering if he'd ever get a shot. He certainly didn't imagine coming off the bench to lead his team in minutes, points, and assists. Head coach Mike D'Antoni made his smartest move of the season and rode a hot Linsanity for 36 minutes to 25 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds, and 2 steals. Finally, Knicks fans thought. The 99-92 victory over the helpless Nets was only the third win in the past 14 games for the Knicks.
The unexpected spark couldn't have come at a better time. Amar'e Stoudemire is dealing with family issues, Baron Davis had yet another setback to his injury, Carmelo Anthony continues to struggle with injuries, (last night he tweaked his groin) and Mike D'Antoni's job seems to be on day-to-day status. As if he really had a choice, D'Antoni started Lin last night against the upstart Jazz, and once again, he delivered.
According to Elias, Lin put up the best points and assists combination (28 points, 8 assists, 2 rebounds, 2 steals) in his first career start since Isiah Thomas in 1981. Lin's comment after the game might be equally as surprising.
"Basketball's so fun when you play on a team where people want to work together and work through tough times and overcome them and have victories like this," Lin said. "This one was ugly and we lost a couple of players, but this team has a lot of will."
Will, working together, working through tough times? Is he talking about the same team? The same team that, on paper, has a formidable trio good enough to contend, but is so dysfunctional and misled that it just couldn't find a way to win? Maybe a sensible point really is all this team needs to bring it together. He's already got the confidence to be tweeting at Spike Lee and has the camaraderie to be crashing on Landry Fields' couch. But what happens when Melo is on? What happens when Lin's 17 shots are too much? What happens when Anthony, Stoudemire, Chandler, and Lin are all on the court at the same time? For now, he's the perfect answer for the Knicks. Whether or not he's a long-term solution is yet to be seen.
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