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Cullen: Lin gives the Knicks a new look at the point

Scott Cullen
2/7/2012 7:28:21 PM
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Joining in on the Linsanity, Scott Cullen takes a look at the New York Knicks' new starting point guard, Jeremy Lin, and what might be reasonable expectations for him going forward.

Lin, 23, played collegiately at Harvard and was an undrafted free agent signing of the Golden State Warriors in 2010. As a rookie, often playing in garbage time, Lin appeared in 29 games, averaging fewer than 10 minutes, scoring 2.6 points, grabbing 1.2 rebounds and dishing 1.5 assists per game. A number that does stand out, however, is that he had 1.1 steals per game, which gave him the highest steals per 48 minutes (5.56) of any player that appeared in at least five games last season.

Remarkable steals numbers aside, it wasn't shocking that Lin was waived by Golden State prior to the start of this season, picked up by the Houston Rockets and then picked up by the Knicks a couple weeks later when the Rockets waived him.

In the first month that Lin was with the Knicks, he played a total of 21:33, barely breaking a sweat. But the Knicks have had a mess of problems at the point and necessity is the mother of invention, after all, so Lin found his way off the bench for 20 minutes against Houston on January 28, a 97-84 loss during which Lin contributed nine points and six assists.

Saturday night, in a 99-92 win over the Nets, Lin played 35:52 off the bench, scoring 25 points and adding seven assists; a performance strong enough to earn him a shot in the starting lineup Monday night against Utah.

Lin, who is better-rested than any starter in the league, played 44:52 against Utah, scoring a career-high 28 points and dishing eight assists; a performance that ought to give him some time to prove whether or not he deserves to stay in the starting lineup.

Over the next few weeks, the Knicks will be missing leading scorer Carmelo Anthony, who has a groin injury, so that will give Lin plenty of opportunity with the ball. "I'm riding him like freakin' Secretariat," Knicks head coach Mike D'Antoni said after the game, obviously impressed with Lin's results.

If he's going to have the ball in his hands so frequently, it would be worth his while to hang onto it better than he did Monday, when he turned it over eight times, but his ability to drive to the bucket should help create offence for the Knicks, something that hasn't been aided consistently by their other point guards this season (as an aside, Toney Douglas appears to be the one losing minutes with Lin in the rotation).

Some other point guards seeing increased roles recently:

Greivis Vasquez, New Orleans - Filling in for Jarret Jack, Vasquez scored 20 points and had nine assists Monday, continuing a solid recent run that includes 15.2 ppg and 7.9 apg over the last six.

C.J. Watson, Chicago - Derrick Rose has been troubled by back spasms, leading to more playing time for Watson and he's averaged 14.8 ppg and 5.3 apg in the last four games.

Jordan Farmar, New Jersey - By no means is he supplanting Deron Williams in the starting lineup, but Farmar is playing a significant role off the bench, scoring in double figures in 10 of the last 11 games and shooting a career-high 45.7% from three-point range.

Isaiah Thomas, Sacramento - When Tyreke Evans is the de facto point guard on the Kings, a distributor like Thomas has a chance to earn some minutes and he has lately, averaging 11.1 ppg and 4.0 apg in the last seven games.

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.



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