New York Knicks: Mike D'Antoni's System Is Main Reason for Jeremy Lin's Success
Jeremy Lin had another impressive game on Saturday night for the New York Knicks against the Minnesota Timberwolves. It wasn't as great as the other games, but Lin still scored 20 points and made a key free throw in the victory.
Because of that, what has quickly become known as "Linsanity" around the world, will continue for a bit longer.
But how do we explain Linsanity?
Did Lin just flip a switch and unleash hidden talents?
Absolutely not. And anyone who thinks that he's going to go up for MVP consideration is falling for major hype.
A little research tells us that Mike D'Antoni is a large, perhaps even the biggest reason why Lin has thrived in the last five games.
When looking at some of the point guards that played for D'Antoni, the previous statement becomes affirmed.
Obviously the first point guard that comes to mind is Steve Nash. Nash is an undeniable talent that won both of his league MVPs when playing for D'Antoni. His high-octane offense opened up the game for Nash, facilitating the game for an already dangerous player.
With or without D'Antoni, Nash was going to be great, but it can be argued that D'Antoni's presence elevated Nash's game, making the Suns a championship contender in those years.
Then, in the first half of last season (prior to the Carmelo Anthony trade), the Knicks had Raymond Felton putting up career numbers, similar to what Jeremy Lin is doing right now.
In 54 games with the Knicks, Felton averaged over 17 points per game. Prior to that season, the highest point total he had averaged was 14.4 back in 2007-08 with the Charlotte Bobcats. He also averaged nine assists per game in that short stint with the Knicks.
These were career numbers for Felton.
Right after the trade, Felton's numbers declined and have never recovered since then.
It's also important to note that like Lin, Felton was turning the ball over at an alarming rate with 3.3 per game.
The explanation once again has to do with D'Antoni's fast-paced offense. Point guards will make more mistakes in turning the ball over. They'll also play less defense, but their offensive totals will increase.
The next point guard to immensely benefit from D'Antoni's coaching style was Chauncey Billups, who came in during the Carmelo Anthony trade.
Billups has always been an underrated player with plenty of talent and experience under his belt. And while his stats didn't boost tremendously, they did go upwards by a tick. It's important to note that with Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony in the lineup, it's far more difficult to massively improve your stats.
Billups averaged over 17 points and 5.5 assists per game for the Knicks.
With the Los Angeles Clippers prior to his injury, his stats were down a bit. He averaged 15 points and four assists.
This might have more to do with the fact that he wasn't playing the point position with the Clippers. Chris Paul is and it definitely takes away from some of the stats.
So because of that, Billups might not be the best example. However, there is still some correlation between D'Antoni's system and Billups' success.
Finally, before Linsanity broke out, Iman Shumpert was starting for the Knicks. Shumpert was drafted this past summer and because of the lockout he probably didn't have much time with the Knicks coaching staff to develop.
That didn't matter, though. The raw point guard with absolutely no NBA experience came out and has averaged double digits in points, good enough for sixth in the league for rookies.
Is this to say if the Knicks had drafted a guy like Kyrie Irving, he'd be averaging over 20 points in D'Antoni's system in his rookie year?
D'Antoni is like steroids for point guard stats. He's a great, offensive-minded coach whose system has a track record of helping all types of point guards improve their statistics.
Will they play defense? Probably not, but D'Antoni doesn't rely on that to win games. In fact, he never has.
We look at Jeremy Lin now and how he's taking the league by storm. But let's put aside the cute, fascinating story for a second. Let's just focus on purely basketball.
Lin is not a gifted talent. That's fair to say. If he was, he would've been drafted. The fact that he doesn't have Kyrie Irving- or John Wall-type characteristics and athleticism makes his story even more amazing.
He's thrown into a system that focuses heavily on offense and is extremely point guard friendly.
Doesn't it all make sense now? Lin is just another beneficiary of Mike D'Antoni's system. The stats show it.
Lin's not going to take over the NBA and win MVPs. He'll be a solid contributor under D'Antoni's system once the hot streak fades away. Throw him away from his system though and he could become irrelevant once again.
Lin's deficiencies are an excess of turnovers and lack of defense. These are masked by his offensive prowess, which comes out when under the system of D'Antoni. Point guards can make those mistakes because they're just asked to play up-and-down basketball in that system. It's always a track meet and that's what suits Lin's needs.
It's why Felton, Billups, Nash and Shumpert all had upward ticks in their stats.
Linsanity isn't something we've never seen before. It's just simply Mike D'Antoni basketball.
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