New York Knicks: Better off Without Jeremy Lin?
The Mike Woodson era marked a new beginning and an ending: the birth of a new Knicks team (11-3) and the death of a Jeremy Lin-centered offense.
It raises the question: Are the Knicks better off without their star point guard Jeremy Lin?
The Knicks' unbelievable run in early February gave reason to why an offense completely centralized around Lin was extremely effective, taking down league powerhouses in Los Angeles and Dallas.
During that time period, Lin averaged 20.9 ppg and 8.4 assists with an offense completely centered around him.
Essentially every Knicks offensive play was either Lin driving in the lane and kicking it out, finishing at the rim with a nifty fadeaway or lobbing it up to Chandler for an alley oop.
The bottom line is during that magnificent stretch, everything was Lin. Lin, Lin, Lin.
Then reality hit.
Injuries started pouring in, teams started to figure him out and the rim somehow got smaller for him. But most of all, teammates needed their slice of the action too.
The Knicks wanted a balanced team where each player got the same offensive plays as the next. As great as they may sound, in this league, that just plain doesn't work.
If one looks at all of the top teams in the league, they all have one thing in common: a go-to scoring threat. A player that has the offense completely oriented around him. A weapon who consistently takes that shot in crunch time. Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, Dirk Nowitzki, Paul Pierce, Dwyane Wade and Derrick Rose are just some of them.
If you look back in history you will find that every championship team had that guy. Last year, it was Dirk Nowitzki who, whenever it seemed the other team was making a run, would put them to shame with his lethal fadeaway jump shot.
Before that there was Kobe, a player who had his team centered around him since high school.
Whether it was scouting reports figuring him out, or teammates wanting more shots or simply shots stopped falling, Linsanity faded after their miraculous stretch.
Then the Knicks started losing—and losing badly. After a six-game losing streak, the Knicks needed change. And whether that change came from Mike Woodson's new coaching or the Knicks' new mindset, they started winning.
And that was without Jeremy Lin, who hit rock bottom with an injury, likely putting him out for the season.
This phenomenon raises the question: What sparked this winning streak? The real question should be: Who sparked this winning streak?
Though it can be argued that it was completely generated by a new coach in Mike Woodson, it would be ignorant to assume that this is the sole reason.
The real reason was what happened to them back in the beginning of February when a guy named Jeremy Lin came into the picture. At the same time, Carmelo Anthony hit form.
Before that point, Anthony was having one—if not the worst—seasons of his career, averaging career lows in points (21.05) and field goal percentage (41%), struggling to be the go-to guy he used to be during his whole basketball career.
During the last 10 games, however, the Knicks offense has been completely Melo-centric and it has proven to work. He's averaging 24.6 ppg in that time period, 7.6 rebounds per game and has been shooting 48 percent.
Melo is that go-to guy that he sought to be throughout the season.
In Sunday's riveting win against the Bulls, the Knicks showed just how effective "that guy" can be as Melo saved the day—not once, but twice—for the Knicks.
The bottom line is a team needs that guy, whether that's Kobe, Durant, Melo or even Jeremy Lin.
So the question really isn't if the Knicks need Jeremy Lin. It is whether they need that guy an offense is centered around, that guy who takes the shot with the clock winding down, and that guy who goes for 40 points.
The answer is yes—and that guy right now is Carmelo Anthony.
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