1. What is Linsanity’s true celiing? Does he make you reconsider how the post-season will play out?
The Elusive Heisenberg
His true ceiling is pretty much impossible to predict. While I think the comparisons to Nash are mildly ridiculous at this point, there’s no question the kid can play. I think his ceiling is a top ten point guard, which is still quite an achievement when you consider the number of quality points in the league.
As for the postseason, the Knicks remain what they always were, a dangerous first round opponent that is capable of beating anyone other than the Bulls and Heat, but who won’t make it past the second round as a result.
I’ll be honest here. I don’t think Jeremy Lin will ever be deserving of an all-star spot. Nor do I think he’s the solution to poverty, selfishness and war. However, I do think he’ll be one of the better point guards in the league for a long time. As much as people want to believe that the scouting report is out on him, it isn’t. This past Sunday I watched Shawn Marion, one of the best defenders of the last decade, constantly allow Jeremy Lin to drive right and get off that mid-range jumper with ease. I’m giving him the ceiling of a smarter Brandon Jennings.
As far as the post-season goes, of course. The Knicks didn’t even look like a playoff team before Linsanity. Time will tell if the Knicks can gel and become a true contender but for now, they’re either one of the toughest first round outs the East has seen for a while or a good second round match-up. At the end of the day though, the Heat and Bulls are the best of the bunch.
So far, the Linvasion has been entertaining, although I’m pretty sure even his mom is tired of seeing his picture plastered all over the papers. We’ve been waiting for quite a while for the Knickerbockers to become legit contenders. After crashing and burning in last year’s playoffs, we thought Carmelo and company would come out with a little more fire this season. They didn’t. Ironically, it took an undrafted, Asian-American point guard from the Ivy League to give them the kick in the ass they needed. If stranger things have happened in the NBA, I’m not sure what they are.
I recently hosted a poll on my website asking readers how far Jeremy Lin could take the Knicks. Most answered one series playoff win at best. I’m inclined to agree with them. After Chicago and Miami, the East is wide open. So as long as the Knicks can grab a 3-4-5-6 seed, they should be fine. Anything lower and the Bulls and Heat will eat their lunch.
Downtown Charlie Brown
I think a big thing helping Lin so far this year is that teams do not practice, and their game-planning is not anywhere close to what it would be in a normal season. The turn overs are telling and if the Knicks had any kind of point guard rotation, Lin would not have such a long leash. When this all settles down and people quit comparing him to Nash he will probably fall into a Barea type role/ fringe starter.
Lin! I have always been a believer in the guy. As far as his potential, I think he has the capability to be a perennial all-star. He’s a good finisher, has good vision, a quick first step, a decent shot, and a knack for finding space and using screens effectively. He’s even got the tougher parts of the game down already – shot selection and passing is already top-notch. Aside from his lateral movement on defense, all he needs to improve is his consistency and turnover rate; over a few years, this will be no problem. Despite the greatness of Lin and New York’s newly acquired depth, though, I do not anticipate New York messing up the plans of Chicago or Miami.
As a player, the absolute max ceiling? All time point guard. He’s showing the same flashes I saw out of young Steve Nash and as so many point guards have shown, it takes experience and luck. Lin has had them in reverse it seems, everything working out perfectly is rare. A realistic ceiling is elite point guard which he has arguably started making a case for already.
As an icon however, Lin truly does not have a ceiling. If they call it Linsanity in North America, I’m not sure there’s a meaningful enough word in Chinese to replace it in Taiwan. The only thing I can compare it to is the death of Michael Jackson (or two pandas named Taun Taun and Yuan Yuan, but that’s another story). When he broke, Linsanity was on every channel, all day every day. News shows reported on Lin, and only Lin, for days. When I walked into my language center last week, a group of women who never cared or played sports were gathered around a computer watching the ESPN play by play, cheering every time Lin’s name came up on the ticket. Lin committed a foul and they cheered. It didn’t matter. Even if it’s just Taiwan, he’s an icon.
2. We’ve seen him play well with Amare… how will Melo and JR Smith affect the team?
The Elusive Heisenberg
I don’t think JR is an issue at all. The guy is a sparkplug, and shoots when he gets the ball. If anything he will raise Lin’s assists as a shooter, but he won’t be taking the ball out of his hands.
’Melo is a different story. I don’t think there’s any question he makes them better. I don’t think there’s a team in the league that wouldn’t improve by adding ‘Melo. The question is how much better he can make them. ‘Melo can be ball-dominant, but we saw in his years playing with Iverson that he doesn’t necessarily need to be. ‘Melo is actually one of the best in the league at making a move quickly after catching the ball, so long as he is given free rein to score without having to worry about creating much for others, I think that will be the case. Once he and Lin develop some chemistry I think the team will benefit noticeably. No question that it will hurt Lin’s numbers though.
Well, with a fourth quarter line up of Lin – Smith – ‘Melo – Amare – Chandler, you’ve got two guys that are alpha’s, one guy that wishes he was an alpha, and another guy who doesn’t yet know he’s an alpha. Four-fifths of that lineup wants the ball in their hands. The other fifth is the only guy that’s really committed to defense. (The jury is still out on Lin) That generally spells trouble. However, if these guys can come together and make it work, they could be the most offensively explosive line-up that the league has seen for years. I don’t feel like there’s a lot of middle-ground here. This next two years essentially make or break ‘Melo’s legacy, and this team is either going to turn in to a terrible experiment that makes you shake your head or must-watch television that still makes you shake your head… in awe.
Pre-Lin, the Knicks clearly lacked any sort of leadership. ‘Melo didn’t provide it. Neither did Amare or Coach D’Antoni. Lin’s style of play is so involving that he may eventually emerge as the leader of that team, as long as there’s no Durant-Westbrook type of conflict or resentment. They should all co-exist peacefully, as long as they’re all getting their shots and the W’s keep piling up. If they don’t, I can easily see fingers being pointed.
I definitely like the addition of JR Smith. He’s a guy that you really don’t have to run plays for and can just fit into a line-up, as witnessed by them winning their first game with him without having practiced with the team. We talked all season long about how the Knicks needed guard play. Well, now they have two, and that’s a hell of a lot better than none.
Downtown Charlie Brown
Even if Lin was on this team, I am not a fan of a team with Melo, Amare and JR Smith. These are all players who shoot first, ask questions and play defense later. I don’t think any point guard would be able to make that team work.
’Melo is the league’s best scorer. ‘Melo is not the league’s best team player. D’Antoni’s offense is predicated on point guard production and fast pace, and ‘Melo’s tendencies take a little bit away from both of these. Fortunately, though, ‘Melo may be in the midst of changing his tendencies. Seemingly taking recent criticism to heart, against Atlanta, he was keen on playing within the offense (even buckling down defensively) and was clearly looking for a new balance with scoring and playmaking. The Knicks have a very versatile, potent team when ‘Melo is in the right mind; he is not the best player for the Knicks, but with making the right changes, it can work.
As far as JR Smith’s signing, he doesn’t help them improve much more than their depth. I believe that what the Knicks could use at this point is a defensive-minded team player (neither ‘Melo nor Smith have proven to fit this role), as they already have enough guys to put up sufficient points. The very thought of an Iggy-‘Melo trade tingles my senses.
‘Melo will make them better. The heat ‘Melo has received has been unwarranted. It’s not on him: his team had no point guard (on the floor) trying to run D’Antoni’s PG oriented system. So why is he a ball stopping cancer when it’s the idea that didn’t work? ‘Melo played great with Gerry McNamara (NCAA Title), AI (‘Melo Career high and AI career high efficiency), Chauncy Billups (within 2 games of the finals) and Ty Lawson (second best offence in the league). That’s as varied a list of PG’s you can find. ‘Melo was right, “he can play with anyone.” Instead of forcing offence for turnovers, Lin gets a legit go-to scorer who can shoot, create or finish with anyone. ‘Melo will open lanes for Lin when bigs are forced to guard him on the perimeter. In case anyone forgot, ‘Melo is the best scorer in the league, and an absolute match up nightmare. It’s always good to have that guy on your team.
3. Who were the biggest All-Star snubs, if any? Who wins the “Gatling Award” for player who least deserves to make the All-Star Game?
The Elusive Heisenberg
Snubs? Either Pau or Paul Millsap. Both guys were having much better seasons than Dirk at the time the rosters were chosen. On a similar note, based solely on performance this year, there’s no question that Dirk was the least deserving All-Star. But since we can just give him the spot as the reigning MVP, I’ll say Joe Johnson. He isn’t even the best guy on his own team, and there is no way he is better than Rondo. Now I know Rondo has since replaced him on the squad, but at the time of the voting he was probably the least deserving.
I’ll be straightforward about this. Carmelo Anthony did not deserve to an all-star over Josh Smith. Smoove has been taking less three’s, taking it to the hole, playing insane defense, rebounding and most important of all, he’s been helping his team WIN (or Lin, whatever you want to call it now). ‘Melo on the other hand, has been shooting the ball like it’s nobody’s business, and playing as abysmal defense as ever. When he was healthy, the Knicks looked like a lottery team. However, he was voted in and there isn’t much that can be done about it.
While I’d love to make a case for Rudy Gay or Al Jefferson in the West, and as much as I’d love to take Westbrook off the roster, I wouldn’t do it. Russ has really picked up his game in the past month, and his defense/scoring has been vital to Oklahoma’s success this year. He’s making a difference for his team, and it doesn’t really matter if I’m not a fan of the way he goes about it.
Oh, and the Gatling Award goes to none other than Carmelo Anthony.
Whether it’s the NBA or MLB, I’m not a big believer in All-Star snubs. The fans get to vote, so technically, there are no real losers. Those voted into the game are the ones fans want to see. That being said, Carmelo Anthony probably shouldn’t have been voted an Eastern starter. He’s averaging near a career-low in scoring, field goal percentage and has missed ten games due to injury. But would I replace him with Luol Deng, Andre Iguodala, Chris Bosh or Paul Pierce? I’m not so sure.
Same thing in the West. You could make the argument that Kevin Love (25ppg, 15 rpg) has better numbers than Blake Griffin (22ppg, 11 rpg). He does. But who would you rather watch play?
Downtown Charlie Brown
My snubs and Gatlings go hand in hand. Milsap should be there instead of Dirk and Josh Smith should be there over Joe Johnson or Carmelo. All you have to do is look at the raw numbers to see that those two players are having better seasons than the three mentioned. Oh, and I just noticed that Rondo has never made it, but is a replacement now. That is just silly.
I am positive that Paul Millsap deserves a spot on the West roster; both he and James Harden deserve a spot over Dirk Nowitzki (has anyone checked Harden’s TS% lately?). Both Aldridge and Love deserve Griffin’s starting spot more than he does (I happen to think Griffin is generally overrated). Josh Smith may be more worthy of a spot than ‘Melo as well. All in all, though, I am pleased with the results of this year’s selections.
This year’s All Stars were mostly obvious. Slight snubs Josh Smith (down year though) and Ryan Anderson (not a true star, is he?) are overshadowed by the Rajon Rondo snub. He didn’t get picked, sure, but they picked Paul Pierce, and Rondo is clearly the best player on their team. Segue to my Gatling award winner. Pierce has put up 18/5/5 and shot a poor 41%. Rondo is putting up 15/10/5 on 48% shooting, is the heart of their offence and a far better defensive contributor. Pierce is the Celtics 3rd or 4th best player depending on how you view Allen’s start to this season (blistering). The ‘Melo pick totally confuses me. When ‘Melo was picked, the Knicks and Celtics had almost the same records. Except ‘Melo was putting up 24/6/4 on almost the same percentages as Pierce without the benefit of one of the best points in the league creating his easy baskets, not fourth best player on his team.
4. Would you rather just watch the players have an arm wrestling tournament at mid-court or this year’s dunk contest? Do you think anyone from this field will be able to impress?
The Elusive Heisenberg
I hate the dunk contest. The best dunkers are never the ones who win. Derozan had the best dunks last year and didn’t make the finals. I love Blake and hate Mcgee, but Mcgee had a more impressive contest by far, and Griffin’s car dunk was one of the most unintentionally funny things I’ve ever seen. If it were up to me they would pay TFB to come put on a dunk comp every year. That would be entertaining. As it stands, I’ll catch the highlights but I will not watch.
Arm wrestling would be interesting, but I would really only care about who beat whom, watching it would be kind of dull. That’s why I say they should play volleyball. It just makes sense. It’s a court sport, it’s based highly on athleticism, and it would be hilarious. Other than the injury risks, there’s no downside at all.
Everything in last year’s dunk contest was perfect, aside from the actual voting. There was not a single dunk that disappointed me, aside from the last one. I was going to defend this contest, but then I took a look at this year’s contestants: Derrick Williams, Paul George, Chase Budinger, Jeremy Evans. In other words, what the #*%&? As a fan of the dunk contest, it makes me cringe and I can only hope that I’m wrong when I say that this contest will resemble the contest of 2010. If anyone has a chance to stand out thought, it’s probably Paul George.
Instead of the arm wrestling match though, here’s what I propose. We take 20 of the NBA’s greatest retired players, and have a pick-up game. I don’t care how much it takes to pay these guys to play, just make it happen. There won’t be a person on the planet that would miss out on watching Jordan take it to the rack against Kareem, no matter how old these guys are. We’ll even bring back Steve Javie and Joe Tait, for old time sake.
I’m one of the biggest all-star dunk homers you’ll ever meet. Sure, the contest has lost some of its luster over the years. I blame LeBron James. Winning the dunk contest was a rite of passage for NBA superstars. Dr. J did it, Michael did it, so did Dominique, Vince Carter and Kobe. Those before LeBron passed the torch, he passed on the option. His participation would have breathed new life into a contest that so desperately needed it.
Personally, I don’t like that there are only four participants. It messes with the format. The contest was always better with eight players leaping out of the gym. Four doesn’t give us any drama. Re: this year’s contestants, I have confidence Jeremy Evans, Derrick Williams, Paul George and Chase Budinger will be able to provide us with a few ooh’s and aah’s, even though nobody’s ever heard of them. I also expect George to emerge victorious, but we all know the three-point contest is where it’s at for excitement these days.
Downtown Charlie Brown
I don’t see this contest being a bigger let down than Blake Griffin last year to be honest. At least we won’t have to go through ridiculously stupid hype followed by nothing special. I couldn’t even name who is in the contest this year and I am fine with that. It should be somewhat entertaining, as long as the players stick to something they can do instead of getting 17 tries at it.
I really think they need to introduce a small one-on-one tournament. Wade versus Kobe, ‘Melo versus Bron, even CP3 versus Dwight… could anything be more entertaining? At least play “bump” or “tips”, considering that it wouldn’t hurt any of the players’ feelings. That is to say, I have very limited interest in this year’s dunk competition. Perhaps it will be nice to see Budinger’s 38.5 inch vertical on full display, but the combination of an influx in YouTube dunking fanatics and the results from the last few years just leads me to believe it won’t be very exciting.
I like the dunk contest, but can’t deny an arm wrestling contest would probably more fun. What the NBA should do is add HORSE to the ASG, not the bastardized Chuck/Kenny/EJ circle jerk joke they put up previously. Get rid of the refs. Let players dunk. For christ’s sake it’s the NBA. Stop the replays and interviewing players. Mic them up and let the talk playful trash to entertain us. Last year’s overblown anti-climactic Griffin coronation was a let-down. He jumped over the hood of a car, not a car. People screaming “Bring On The Pageantry!” in to any ASG microphones should be shot on sight.
5. What will the tightest end of year awards be? Who’s a lock, and who’s going to be in a footrace?
The Elusive Heisenberg
At the moment, MIP is the biggest lock. Linsanity could become an average point guard for the rest of the year and he still wins it. MVP is also a lock. Sorry Durant, you’re one of my favorites, but there is no beating Lebron if he keeps playing like this. He’s an elite defender putting up the best PER of all time on the best team in the league. The voting should be unanimous. Eventually someone will challenge Dwight, but for now DPOY is a lock as well. Iguodala is getting some (deserved) love, but this is Dwight’s award to lose. Sixth man belongs to James Harden, I would put the season he’s having against any season since Manu last won it. Harden could have been an All-Star in my opinion.
So that leaves rookie of the year and coach of the year. ROY is between Irving and Rubio. I have no idea who will win. Coach of the year is always tricky. All I can say is that there will undoubtedly be multiple people in the running.
The NBA’s most important awards, the MVP award and the DPOY award are pretty much locks at this point. Lebron James is having one of the best seasons of his life, staying away from the three point line, playing great defense and dominating like it’s 2009. “With no regard for human life” comes to mind. On the other side of the ball, let’s face it, Dwight Howard had the DPOY locked up before the season even started. And then we’ve got the sixth man of the year award. While there’s always tons of candidates for the award, and while the Nuggets might even have two (Harrington and Miller), I think this award goes to James Harden and it’s not particularly close. We’re talking about a guy who should be an all-star coming off the bench.
Looking at the others, things start to get tougher. As far as Coach of the Year goes, I’d have to give it to Doug Collins, but you can make a great case for George Karl and Lionel Hollins as well. The Rookie of the Year trophy is a two-man race at this point, and while there’s a lot of basketball to be played, Kyrie Irving is looking like he’s going to edge out Ricky Rubio. This award is far from a lock though.
The toughest match-up, in my opinion, is the Most Improved Player award. I’m not ready to give it to Lin, partially because I don’t know if he actually improved or was finally given a chance, and also because it’s only been nine games. Guys like Greg Monroe, DMC and my favorite young player, Paul George make a strong case for themselves as well.
I don’t think this year’s MVP award is a lock yet by any stretch. I’ve heard a lot of talk about LeBron taking it home lately, but why? He’s not even the best player on his team. That’s right. I said it. Kevin Durant is playing otherworldly, and even though he whines like a little girl, if you take Dwight Howard off the Orlando Magic, you have a ten to twelve-win team. What I’m really interested in seeing, if he keeps this up, is how many votes Jeremy Lin will get. It’s not quite as absurd as you think… or is it? I’m also intrigued by the Rookie of the Year award. Ricky Rubio is playing some outstanding ball but Kyrie Irving has managed to put a smile back on Dan Gilbert’s face. He’s leading his team in scoring AND shooting nearly 50% from the field. Not too bad for a rookie point guard.
Downtown Charlie Brown
I think the DPOY may be a little closer than most people think. The writers may be tired of Howard and all this trade talk that they decide to reward someone else like Iggy this year. I don’t actually see any of the awards as runaways except for the most improved which is easily going to be Lin .Even if Lin regresses and finishes the season with stats like 11 and 4 there is no way he won’t win it easily.
MIP undoubtedly goes to Jeremy Lin. Sixth man of the year is definitely deserved by Harden (has anyone checked his TS% lately?), but Crawford and the Williams – Lou and Mo – will likely attract some attention. MVP is a toss-up between Durant, Lebron, and CP3, as they all have reasons for not winning it: Durant has Westbrook; CP3 doesn’t quite get the attention he deserves; Lebron is disliked and gets too much attention – attention regarding his comments about Cleveland rather than about the fact that he’s having the best statistical season of all-time. Defensive player of the year could actually go to Lebron or even Iggy (it appears as if he’s finally getting his due credit), provided Howard stays quiet and/or has less of a defensive impact if traded to another team. COY is between Collins or Popovich for obvious reasons, and ROY is a virtual tie between Rubio and Irving.
My MIP pick, Marcin Gortat, can’t derail Linsanity. DPOY I do believe is going to Dwight, but Iggy should compete. COY is a footrace between Doug Collins and Frank Vogul for how Indy and Philly made the leap. MVP, is locked up if you’re reasonable. I’ve never seen a more complete basketball player in my life then 2012 Lebron James. Highest PER of all time and All-NBA D. His 27/8/7 on 55% and 41% from 3 is one of the best stat lines of all time.
Let’s take the way back machine to Oscar Robertson’s 1962 triple-double season. The average pace was 152 possessions a game compared to 91 now. Merely adjusting for pace, not talent, he is putting up 38/11/10 while shooting nearly 10% better. Lastly his all NBA D only commits 1.7 fouls. The eye test shows him jumping over people for alley-oops, throwing beautiful half court passes dominating the league in a way we haven’t seen since Tim Duncan used completeness and discipline to do it in 2003. Durant and Paul just can’t compete.