Jeremy Lin has turned the Knicks into a serious title contender
It's been a wild ride for the New York Knicks ever since they inserted Jeremy Lin into the lineup. In the past six games where he has been playing heavy minutes and dominating the rest of the league, the Knicks have gone on a six game tear. In the process, they have taken down the Los Angeles Lakers and Minnesota Timberwolves, two very talented teams.
He is averaging a blistering 26.8 points, 8.5 assists and 1.8 steals per game, making him instantly one of the best point guards in the NBA.
Nobody knows exactly how long "Linsanity" can continue producing at such a torrent pace, but one thing is certain: as long as he is playing like a superstar point guard, the New York Knicks will be the most dangerous team in the NBA.
Here are five reasons why.
With the return of Amar'e Stoudemire to the Knicks lineup last night, the addition of a quality point guard proved to benefit the All-Star's game in a big way. The power forward had 21 points and nine rebounds in his first game back from the death of his brother two weeks ago.
In just one game that the two have played together, it is evident that they will make a great pair, much like Steve Nash and Stoudemire did in Phoenix. He will run the pick-and-roll to perfection with him, creating scoring opportunities for the both of them, making the Knicks very dangerous. The same can be said for a pick-and-roll combination of Lin and center Tyson Chandler.
While we haven't seen Carmelo Anthony on the court with Jeremy Lin yet because he is still nurturing a groin injury, it is easy to see where he will fit in. The Knicks will be playing the game at a quicker tempo, which will free-up opportunities for Anthony to score.
He will also receive less defensive attention with Lin attacking the bucket so often, and the point guard's offensive vision will more often than not find Anthony open for scoring opportunities.
By now you have seen that last night in Toronto, he took down the Raptors will a last second three-point shot to seal a 90-87 victory. Even before that shot, however, he proved that he thrives when the game is on the line.
With a little over a minute to play and the Knicks down by three, he calmly drove the line and was fouled while finishing the play. He then kept his cool and sank the free-throw to tie the game with 1:05 seconds remaining on the clock.
Then came the game's deciding play. He stood alone near the top of the key with time winding down. Being isolated with only one defender in his way, exactly the way he would want it, he started his move toward the basket. With Jose Calderon backing up to respect his driving ability, Lin confidently pulled the trigger and sank the back-breaking three.
In that final minute and change, Jeremy Lin showed an ability to not only be a clutch performer, but he took it upon himself to take the last shot, assuming a leadership role as the newest star in the Big Apple. He has had trouble turning the ball over in the past six games, but nobody in the league has been able to shake his confidence.
With the addition of a star point guard who is equally adept at shooting the ball and driving to the bucket, scoring opportunities have opened like a flood gate for Landry Fields.
The 6'7" shooting guard has been thriving since Jeremy Lin's arrival. In their 100-98 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves over the weekend, he shot a scorching 8-10 from the field on his way to 19 points, Two games earlier, he shot 6-11 from the field for 16 points in their win over the Wizards.
With the return of Carmelo Anthony, he should get even more open looks in the flow of the offense. He has the shooting ability to be the Knicks X-factor in the postseason with his shooting prowess, which adds another threat to the team's arsenal of weapons.
Every title contending NBA team needs a defensive stopper capable of shutting down the opposing team's most talented offensive player. A perfect example of this would be the now retired Bruce Bowen. As a San Antonio Spur he thrived in his role as a defensive demon, and in the process, won three championship rings.
The New York Knicks have their own defensive star in rookie shooting guard Iman Shumpert. The emergence of Jeremy Lin at point guard has let him settle more into his naturally suited defensive role at the shooting guard position and is playing phenomenally. Through the six games that Lin has starred, the Georgia Tech rookie is averaging 2.6 steals per contest.
His athleticism is tailored to becoming a defensive stud, and many of his steals end in his trademark dunks which in turn jump-start a momentum swing for the Knicks.
With all of the hoopla surrounding the "Big Three" in South Beach last season, they did prove one thing by season's end—even with their devastating 2011 NBA Finals loss to the Dallas Mavericks. A trio of stars can take a team to the top of the league.
Where the Miami Heat's trio failed is that they lacked a star point guard to lead them. Dwyane Wade and LeBron James had many (and continue to have) awkward moments about who should be taking shots late in the game, while Chris Bosh tip-toed a dangerous line when siding with one of his costars.
Now that Jeremy Lin is the star point man in New York, he will be deciding what is best for the team and who should be getting the ball when it matters most. It is a point guard's job to make sure his teammates get the ball in the right situations, and he has been doing just a perfect job so far.
With Lin, small foward Carmelo Anthony and power forward Amar'e Stoudemire combining each of their unique talents, the New York Knicks have the perfect blend of star power to make a run at a world championship.