Jeremy Lin and Tim Tebow: How Their Stories Differ

Percy Dinozo@PercyDinozoCorrespondent IMarch 22, 2012

Jeremy Lin and Tim Tebow: How Their Stories Differ

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    Jeremy Lin came in as a reserve against the New Jersey Nets on February 4th, scored 25 points in a New York Knicks win, became a starter in the very next game, and voila! Linsanity was born.  

    But with the trade that shipped Tim Tebow to the New York Jets, the Big Apple will play host to both Linsanity and Tebowmania.  

    Is New York City big enough to handle both at the same time?

    Of course!

    Many have compared Jeremy Lin and Tim Tebow—two pop culture crossovers.  

    Both players are religious and apparently, they have even become friends.  Both are nice guys and have gained supporters across the nation.

    Both have also taken heavy criticism—some warranted, some not so much.  Both have experienced success as starters.

    However, the key to viewing both Jeremy Lin and Tim Tebow lies in seeing what makes them different.  

    The following slides will examine key differences the two New York icons have. 

New York Tested, New York Approved

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    Jeremy Lin came virtually out of nowhere.  

    Out of Harvard, off of waivers, off of his brother's couch—you name it.  

    As a rags-to-riches tale, it was easy for the New York fan base to open their arms wide and embrace their new darling.

    His success came at a time when the New York Knicks were on the brink of falling apart, which only helped to endear him to fans.

    Conversely, Tim Tebow will step off of a plane and into a Jets uniform with Tebowmania already in full swing.  

    He comes at a time when his team's season cannot be saved, because it is already over.

    The Jets missed on Peyton Manning, made what many fans regard as a mistake in signing Mark Sanchez to an extension, and then made what many feel was another mistake in adding Tim Tebow.

    In short, Jeremy Lin was set up to succeed, while Tim Tebow is not.  

    In a city as big as New York, with a fan base as rabid as it is, local support could be what ultimately decides how Tebow's tenure in New York is viewed. 

College Pedigree

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    Another reason why fans might be inclined to rip Tim Tebow is his college pedigree.

    Not only did he play for a big program, the Florida Gators, he also won the Heisman Trophy as a sophomore in 2007 and was a finalist for the award in the following two seasons.

    Jeremy Lin established himself as the best player on a Harvard team that went largely unnoticed outside of Ivy League circles.

    When their respective draft days arrived, Tebow was the focus of a trade up into the first round by the Denver Broncos, further putting his game and his potential under a microscope.

    Lin went undrafted and latched on with the Golden State Warriors, averaging nearly 10 minutes per game when he played.  

    Any playing time could have been considered a good thing for Lin, further illustrating the heightened expectations for Tebow versus the low expectations for Lin.

    Because Lin shattered all reasonable expectations and has continued to play effectively, he continues to be loved in New York.

    Unfortunately for Tebow, because he was a first round pick and one of the best college players of all time, he will always be compared to his past.

Above-Average Production

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    Let's set "Linsanity" aside and focus on the games played since February 20th, when the Knicks first rolled out a starting lineup that featured Jeremy Lin, Carmelo Anthony, and Amar'e Stoudemire.  

    Most teams have played roughly 15 games since then.  The following are stat lines for two point guards over that time span.  Any guesses on who these two players are?

    18.79 ppg, 8.71 assists, 4.79 rebounds, 1.43 steals, 3.86 TOs

    15.73 ppg, 7.20 assists, 3.93 rebounds, 2.00 steals, 3.67 TOs

    I will return to that stat line in a moment.  In the meantime, I present you with this stat line: 

    Pass Completion Percentage: 46.5 percent

    I can't provide you with a proper comparison because Tim Tebow was the only quarterback in the NFL to complete less than 50 percent of his passes. The much-maligned Blaine Gabbert of the Jacksonville Jaguars even managed to complete 50.8 percent of his passes.

    Tebow's 72.9 QB rating ranked him 28th overall—a far below average rating.

    Returning to the point guard stats from above—the second is Jeremy Lin's stat line.  The first is John Wall's.  

    Credit his Harvard coach Tommy Amaker with first making that comparison.

All-Star Trajectory

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    Jeremy Lin played limited minutes in his first pro season.  In his next 3 or 4 games, he will eclipse his high-water mark for minutes since his college days at Harvard.

    It is reasonable to expect that his production will tail off as fatigue gets the best of him, but his early season production was enough to force his way into the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge.

    He has given us a glimpse of what he is capable of.

    Next year, Jeremy Lin will take a step forward in his development if he uses the off-season wisely to work on correcting flaws in his game (possibly his perimeter shooting, driving left or cutting down on turnovers).

    Tim Tebow has yet to show us that he can be a full-time quarterback outside of a system designed for his specific skill set, which means he projects as more of a niche, package player.  

    Until he can develop his passing skills to the point where he is at least adequate, Tim Tebow will only garner All-Pro consideration from the Tebow-ites who refuse to acknowledge his limitations.

    Jeremy Lin, despite his flaws, has proven that he can be productive as a full-time player in the NBA.  

    If he improves over the offseason, his fan base AND his game will carry him to an All-Star berth.

Tebow Guaranteed to Play for New York Next Season

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    Tim Tebow has a contract for next year; Jeremy Lin does not.

    Lin, who is currently paid $762,195, will surely command more money on the open market this offseason.

    His previously mentioned 7.2 assists per game since February 20th (when the end of Linsanity was being predicted) ranks 12th amongst NBA guards, and ahead of such players as Ricky Rubio (albeit over nine games due to injury), Brandon Jennings, Jason Kidd, Russell Westbrook and Raymond Felton.

    He has revitalized the New York basketball scene and stock in MSG jumped as he grew in popularity.

    A player who is both popular and productive would seem like a fine asset for any team, so the New York Knicks would be wise to have a plan in place now for keeping Jeremy Lin for the long term.