Jeremy Lin vs. Best Point Guards in the West: How Does Linsanity Stack Up?

Stephen Babb@@StephenBabbFeatured ColumnistJuly 23, 2012

Apr 26, 2012; Charlotte, NC, USA New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin (17) shoots the ball before the start of the game against the Charlotte Bobcats at Time Warner Cable Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-US PRESSWIRE
Jeremy Brevard-US PRESSWIRE

We know Jeremy Lin is good, but how good? 

He played in just 35 games for the New York Knicks last season, but the 14.6 points and 6.2 assists he averaged suggest his ability to be far more than a mere flash in the pan. Lin decisively took games over and prevailed through a coaching change and injuries to key teammates alike.

There's little doubt he's justified most of the hype, and there's even less doubt he'll continue to improve.

That doesn't mean he'll be an All-Star any time soon, though.

The Western Conference is stacked with superlative point guards. Lin should be able to hold his own against most of them on a nightly basis, but no one is passing the torch to him just yet.

Here are the best floor generals in the West and how Lin will stack up against them in his brand new Houston Rockets uniform.


Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers

Paul remains by almost all accounts the best point guard in the Western Conference and probably the rest of the league for that matter. He's not the biggest or most athletic at the position, but he's easily the most skilled.

Paul can score from virtually anywhere on the floor and his passing ability is rivaled only by two-time MVP Steve Nash.

The most impressive part of his game, though, is his decision-making and sense of timing. The 27-year-old can control a game's tempo and take over when needed, making him one of the most lethal fourth-quarter weapons on the planet.

Needless to say, Lin has a long way to go before he even enters this discussion.


Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder

As point guards go, Westbrook isn't an especially conventional one. As evidence by the 23.6 points per game he averaged last season, this guy is one of the best scorers in the league without question. He's explosive, lightning quick and can take a wide range of difficult shots.

Still, the 23-year-old has a lot to learn about creating opportunities for his teammates. His court vision isn't great and he often looks for his own offense at the expense of setting up the likes of Kevin Durant or James Harden.

Despite a few shortcomings, Westbrook is still one of the best in the business. 


Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs

Perhaps it's a stretch to suggest that Tony Parker had an MVP-caliber season this year, but he came pretty close.

Parker proved that he was more than an elite scorer and added a balance to his game we had previously seen. It showed in the 18.3 points and 7.7 assists he averaged, but it was even more discernable in his decision-making and the extent to which San Antonio's supporting cast put on a show night after night.

Lin's skill set suggests his career upside could mirror Parker's in many ways, but it'll take him a few more years to get there.


Steve Nash, Los Angeles Lakers

Even at the back-end of his career, Nash remains one of the very best at what he does. He should be the perfect facilitator for a Lakers team that already has a number of dangerous scoring options. 

That said, Nash has never been a competent defender. While he may remain a better overall floor general than Lin and many others, he's also at constant risk of being victimized by any guard with a quick first step and the ability to pull up and shoot.

Don't be surprised if Lin goes off against the Lakers again this season.


Ty Lawson, Denver Nuggets

While there aren't many similarities between their styles or physical tools, Lin could pretty safely be compared to Ty Lawson when it comes to his ranking among the West's best point guards.

Lawson has had a less meteoric rise to prominence, but he's steadily improved into one of the game's most electric young guards. The 5'11" spark-plug builds a head of steam when taking the ball to the hole, and he's a capable shooter to boot.

It's only a matter of time before Lawson shows up at an All-Star game.


Mike Conley, Memphis Grizzlies

Conley and Lin actually share a lot in common. They have good size, excellent defensive prowess and model consistency. They're also extremely well-rounded.

Neither has a particular skill that truly stands out, at least not yet. But, they're good shooters and can finish at the rim.

On a team with fewer scoring options, Conley would have better numbers. Lin may look like a much better player simply by virtue of the fact the Rockets don't have much else at the moment, but he and the 24-year-old Conley have a lot in common.


Goran Dragic, Phoenix Suns

Were it not for Lin capturing all the headlines last year, you would have almost certainly heard more about Dragic.

When starting games, his production was almost identical to Lin's, and no one really saw this one coming either. Dragic earned himself a lucrative long-term deal and a starting job with the Suns. Lin will be replacing him (and Kyle Lowry) in Houston, but the 26-year-old Dragic could still very well make the Rockets regret letting him go.


Rick Rubio, Minnesota Timberwolves

It's still too soon to know exactly what the Timberwolves have in Rubio. His untimely knee injury derailed an otherwise exciting rookie campaign that had everyone talking before the spotlight shifted to Lin.

Rubio is a remarkable passer and flourishes in the open court.

For now, his shooting ability is wildly inconsistent, though. In the short term, Lin still has an edge. Over the long term, that may very well change. Rubio is still just 21 and elements of his game are mature well beyond his years.


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