New York Knicks: How Jeremy Lin Could Actually Win the NBA MVP
Just three weeks ago, Jeremy Lin’s emergence as an NBA megastar would’ve been considered impossible by most. Nine games later, however, Lin has proven nearly everybody wrong, and is even beginning to deserve the buzz that he might just be the league’s most valuable player.
When breaking down the MVP and its meaning, there is one word that encompasses everything that the award stands for: value.
So how valuable is Lin to the New York Knicks?
Lin is averaging 13.5 points and 5.1 assists this season, but not unlike the rest of the 23-year-old’s NBA career, it’s really only the past two weeks that tell the story.
In the last nine contests, Lin has averaged 25 points, two steals and more than nine assists per game.
The sample size for Lin is small; no doubt about that.
His numbers right now are about as good as they come, though, and in a league infatuated with superstars, his numbers of the last two weeks are right up there with the likes of some of the league’s top MVP candidates today.
The return of Carmelo Anthony will likely put a damper on Lin’s scoring run, but what people are seemingly forgetting is that Lin’s breakout performance this season came in an effort against the New Jersey Nets where both Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire were still in the lineup.
If the two players can coexist on the floor, Lin’s assists could very well skyrocket with another scorer to dish the ball to.
But let’s be honest here; Lin is not perfect.
Averaging nearly six turnovers per game since his eruption this season, Lin needs to get control of the ball to round out a skill set that is being looked at and analyzed by fans, media and NBA scouts alike.
That being said, you wouldn’t let a little thing like turnovers rain on Lin’s MVP parade, would you?
Last year’s MVP Derrick Rose finished the 2010-11 season averaging the eighth-most turnovers in the league. Steve Nash, in his 2005-06 campaign, averaged the third-most turnovers in the NBA, and was No. 7 the year before that—both MVP seasons. Even James averaged the third-most turnovers in his 2009-10 MVP run.
Take a look at this year’s MVP candidates. Are James, Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant in your top eight?
They’re also in the top eight in turnovers this season.
There’s no denying that this part of Lin's game needs to be improved, but if he can continue to score and facilitate the way he has been, the MVP award has set a precedent of looking past such a flaw so long as the other major categories make up for such a statistical blemish.
Is Jeremy Lin a Legitimate MVP Candidate
But while statistics are important, the best way to evaluate an MVP candidate’s legitimacy is to imagine what his team would look like in his absence.
Luckily for Lin, we don’t have to imagine.
Before Lin began receiving major minutes, the New York Knicks were an abysmal 8-15, the dual-superstar experiment was still disappointing and the playoffs appeared to be a distant delusion for a squad that was touted by Mark Stein of ESPN as the sixth-best team entering the 2011-12 season.
Let’s tell it like it is—the Knicks were bad.
Since his run began, Lin has resurrected the Knicks back to relevancy, and the team is looking as if it will be able to make a splash in this year’s postseason.
Steeper competition is ahead, as an inconsistent Los Angeles Lakers team and the aging Dallas Mavericks were the headliners in a relatively easy nine-game stretch. But if Lin and the Knicks can keep it up and play like they’ve been playing for the past couple of weeks, don’t count out Lin when the votes are tallied at the end of the season.
People love an underdog story, and if Lin can continue his incredible run he’ll be in line to complete the underdog story of a lifetime with the NBA’s most coveted honor.
This isn’t all about Lin, however, as he’s going to have to capture the MVP award away from a group of worthy adversaries.
It’s like ESPN's Sarah Phillips said:
Lin is being portrayed as the ultimate good guy, so maybe it’s fitting that he’ll have to conquer LeBron James, perceived by many as one of the biggest villains in sports, to win the award.
If over the next few months Lin gets lost in the New York shuffle, his MVP candidacy will drop back down to nonexistence, and one of the other contenders will claim the prize.
But while the Most Improved Player award should already be on a one-way flight to Lin’s trophy case, a strong second-half performance from "Linsanity" could make that hardware futile as it sits on his shelf next to the league’s most prestigious individual award.
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