Jeremy Lin is a refreshing blend of natural talent, preparation and chance.
The latter, however, proved quite a difficult ingredient to obtain.
Unrecruited out of high school and undrafted out of college, Jeremy Lin's journey to the present has been no less than remarkable. It's been a made-for-Hollywood story that includes being waived by two NBA teams and a riveting performance from his brother's couch.
Both failed to give him that oh-so-elusive chance.
Even with his current team, the New York Knicks, Lin didn't necessarily earn a starting nod. The chance just sort of fell through the hands of others, hit the ground and rolled to his feet.
Jeremy Lin was ready to capitalize.
In the seven games since becoming a starter, he has averaged 24.4 points and 9.1 assists. Wednesday night, he dished out a career-high 13 assists en route to the team's seventh consecutive win—their longest streak since last season.
It's been, dare I say, "Linsanity."
It's hope in a futile place—that spot on the far, far end of an NBA bench. A place few escape and when they do, it's usually for a bathroom break. Or a contract overseas. Or worse.
It's motivation to continue working hard. To be prepared when, and if, that chance finally arrives.
So, I ask—Who is the next Jeremy Lin? Who is that player waiting for his chance to shine?
Around the league, NBA coaches are assuredly scouring their entire roster for the next benchwarmer-turned-superstar. They're looking up and down the D-League—where Lin himself once played—for some hidden talent. They may even be scouting the ball boy's jump shot.
To get the conversation rolling, here a few possible candidates.
Sorry, no ball boys made the cut.
G Jimmer Fredette, Sacramento Kings
What does a 10th overall pick have in common with the undrafted Lin? Aside from draft day differences, a lot. Jimmer, like Jeremy was for the Warriors, is in a system that disguises his strengths and showcases his weaknesses. A wrong fit; like putting your left foot into your right-footed shoe. Sure, you can still lace it up, but it just doesn't feel right.
Watching Jimmer play for the Kings just doesn't feel right. He's a playmaker with the ball in his hands, and struggles in catch-and-shoot situations (despite a sweet stroke). Jimmer, again like Lin, is more suited in a pick-and-roll heavy offense. It would allow him to take open jumpers, penetrate to the basket and kick out to open teammates. All strengths in his game.
The Kings have too many players who dominate possession of the ball, and that's a problem for Jimmer's progression. Also, he is still raw and must continue to improve as an all-around player. If he does that and is put in a solid system, Jimmer could experience a Lin-like sophomore year.
Price, like Lin, took the road less traveled to reach his dreams of playing in the NBA. A road that included an illustrious career at Utah Valley State, a school I would have never known existed had I not studied there my freshman year. During his senior season in 2005, Price averaged 24.3 points per game (third in the country) and was named Division I Independent Player of the Year.
Like Lin, Price was overlooked and unannounced in the NBA draft. He impressed enough to earn a roster spot on the Sacramento Kings and has since heated up the bench for three teams in six seasons. Most know him as that guy who absolutely posterized Carlos Boozer. Others don't really know him at all.
He has all the tools to become a household name: good handle, pesky defender, a shooting touch and surprising athleticism (again, just ask Boozer). He's just waiting, on the end of the bench, for more chances to prove his worth.
F Marcus Lewis, Tulsa 66ers (D-League)
This discussion is not just limited to guards and players already on NBA rosters. With that in mind, enter Marcus Lewis of the Tulsa 66ers. Lewis puts the power in power forward and currently leads the league in rebounds per game, grabbing an impressive 13.3.
Should he get a call-up, Lewis will never be a scorer on Lin's level, but he brings a big body (6'8", 240 lbs) to bang down low and crash the boards. Those things can affect games just as much as points. He's just waiting for an extended chance.
Lewis has already spent time in the NBA summer league (Oklahoma City Thunder) and training camp (Milwaukee Bucks), but nothing has lasted long enough for him to make an impact. His performance in the Pan-American games with Team USA has put him on the radar of a few teams, so it may just be a matter of time before Lewis attempts his best Lin impression...
Or is it Linpression?
I'd be interested to hear who you, the readers, had in mind.