NBA Rumors: New York Knicks Would Be Crazy to Start Baron Davis over Jeremy Lin

Mike ChiariFeatured ColumnistMarch 4, 2012

ORLANDO, FL - FEBRUARY 24:  Jeremy Lin #17 of the New York Knicks and Team Shaq looks on during the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge part of the 2012 NBA All-Star Weekend at Amway Center on February 24, 2012 in Orlando, Florida.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Since taking over as the New York Knicks' starting point guard a few weeks ago, Jeremy Lin has blossomed into one of the league's rising stars and he has led the Knicks on a great run of success. Because of that, the suggestion of starting Baron Davis over Lin is ridiculous.

According to Marc Berman of the New York Post, Knicks head coach Mike D'Antoni has left open the possibility of making sweeping changes to the starting lineup, including replacing Lin with Davis. This comes on the heels of a great performance by Davis and the second unit in New York's win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday.

It could [change], D’Antoni said. I’m trying to find the right combos. But it’s got to be determined over time. It’s not going to be over one game. Not going to just throw people under the bus for one or two games. Over a length of time, if they prove they need to be out there, they’ll be out there.

While D'Antoni's comments seem to suggest that no changes are imminent, he certainly seems open to tinkering. Obviously the likes of Lin, Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler are still learning how to mesh together, so there have been some growing pains. Even so, it would be dumb to break them up already.

The core of Anthony, Stoudemire and Chandler was tantalizing to begin with, but adding a point guard like Lin who can penetrate and kick the ball out makes it even more dangerous. There is still the possibility that Lin is flash in the pan, but he has been a major contributor for 13 consecutive games, so it seems like he is the real deal.

Davis has a great track record and he has done some good things in limited playing time this season, but playing him over Lin is asinine. For one, Davis is 32 years old and coming off a significant back injury. It kept him out for more than 30 games to start the season and he is far too unreliable to trust with big minutes.

Also, his play has regressed noticeably over the past few seasons. That isn't an indictment of Davis, rather it's just what happens when a once-explosive player begins to age. He did manage to average 14 points and six assists with the Cleveland Cavaliers last season, so it isn't as if he's useless, but he isn't starter material for a team with championship aspirations.

Play on the court isn't the only thing to take into consideration either. While one would think that personnel decisions would have everything to do with production, that isn't always the case. Lin has developed into a phenomenon and is the Knicks' most popular player. Putting him on the bench would be like a death sentence in the court of public opinion.

There simply isn't a good reason for D'Antoni to even consider making a move this drastic. It's true that Lin has had some issues with turnovers, but he leads the Knicks with six assists per game despite the fact that he barely played early in the year. That should tell you how effective he has been since his increased role.

Davis has looked good, but he hasn't outperformed Lin by any means. Having a talented veteran like Davis on the bench is a huge luxury for D'Antoni, but he shouldn't make it out to be anything more than that.