Can Lin Revitalize an Underperforming Knicks Team?



Jeremy Lin has been the catalyst behind the Knicks 6-game winning streak. (Chuck Myers/MCT)


Going into the season, Knicks fans were hopeful that Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire could come together to help bring the Knicks their first championship since 1973. No one expected it would be Jeremy Lin, the second year guard out of Harvard, who was waived by two other teams this season, that would be the catalyst behind kick-starting a Knicks season that seemed all but doomed.

Jeremy Lin has been the catalyst behind the Knicks 6-game winning streak. (Chuck Myers/MCT)

Last year had a great feel to it, with the Knicks clinching a playoff birth for the first time since 2000.  After months of speculation midseason, on February 21, 2011, Carmelo Anthony was traded to New York, with teammate Chauncey Billups. The combination of Carmelo, Amar’e and a somewhat healthy Billups put on a spectacle during the second half of the season and gave Knicks fans something to look forward to in 2012. Yet, this season has seemed quite bleak.

To assemble an even better team, in the off-season, the Knicks acquired former Mavericks center Tyson Chandler and signed him to a large 58 million dollar contract. In order to fit Chandler under the salary cap the Knicks waived point guard Chauncey Billups and replaced him with Mike Bibby. As the season continues to unfold, this appears to be the move that has been key to the Knicks’ woes. Finally, the Knicks also signed point guard Baron Davis to a one-year contract, worth $1.4 million in an attempt to sure up the guard position, but Davis has yet to play this season.

The Knicks struggles this season and even in the past are often blamed upon the game plan of Coach Mike D’Antoni, but the system may not be the problem; the problem is the lack of a point guard. D’Antoni’s “seven seconds or less” method of playing basketball has been backfiring this season. The seven seconds system pushes the pace of the game in an attempt to profit from early mismatches or quick pick and rolls. When playing this style of offense, players make quick decisions and quick catch-and-shoot plays that put pressure on the opposing defense. The Knicks try to make points in transition before the other team’s defense has a chance to set up. This method was effective for D’Antoni when he was coaching the Suns, but it has not been working for the Knicks. The reason for this is that this system requires that you have the kind of point guard that can read a defense and make intelligent, quick decisions.

The point guard position has remained a problem for the Knicks since the start of the season. Mike Bibby was signed this off-season, yet he might as well not have been signed. Coach D’Antoni benched him after a string of dismal playing. Toney Douglas and Iman Shumpert had also attempted to fill this role, yet neither was effective. Fans were preparing to wait excruciatingly long for the return of Baron Davis from injury, but with the Knicks at 8-15, the season was not looking very bright. The future for Knicks fans looked grim with an anemic offense, an injured Davis, a hurting Melo and Amar’e losing his brother to a car crash. Yet, all this changed with the coming out of the party of the Knicks newest start, Jeremy Lin.

Jeremy Lin, the now-starting point guard finally received playing time and breathed life into a battered team. Lin has since led the Knicks to six straight wins, averaging 26.8 points per game and 7.8 assists per game over the span of the winning streak. If Lin can maintain this production at point guard, the Knicks can revitalize their offense. Lin is exactly the type of player than can get Stoudemire back on track and help take some pressure off of Carmelo Anthony. Coach D’Antoni was impressed by the performances, saying “The biggest thing is, he’s (Jeremy Lin) got a point guard mentality. He has a rhyme or reason to what he’s doing and players can kind of play off that.”

Fans certainly hope the Lin can give Amar’e and Melo some help and be a presence on the court. The shortened season is still young, and it looks like there may still be quite a lot of fight in this 2012 Knicks team. Will it be enough for another playoff berth? Time will tell.