The Jeremy Lin story is an amazing one. There’s a reason he’s had success in summer league and in this system and that is space on the offensive end. Think about it, he’s shooting .091 (1-11) from behind the arc this year yet still has the ability to create at will. Teams will adjust to that but getting under screens and thus nullifying pick and roll situations. Once this happens the ball has to move with no defensive reaction or dribble drive reaction and that leaves a shot clock running down in the hands of either Melo or Stat.
We’ve talked about what this team can be in terms of what we’ve seen around the league. Are they the Hornets during the CP3/Chandler Era? The Mavericks of last year? Or the old Suns. Right now with Lin at the PG they are typical old-school D’Antoni ball, but that has to change to fit the stars.
Unless Lin can prove he can knock down jump shots the Knicks will need the balance of D’Antoni’s continuity offense with isolation sets. The Celtics do it with Rondo, who can’t shoot either, Garnett, Allen and Pierce as they let Rondo read the possession then as as clock runs down they get others touches late. They also run plays for Allen, a type of player that they don’t have, but Fields can create mismatches at the 2. Amar’e has to continue to develop KG’s 18-foot jump shooting ability along with his natural pick and roll game.
But, before we get to the future we should enjoy the present and all fans are. Seems like the whole basketball world is. That said, we have to talk about how Melo and Amar’e will fit together, which is still the biggest question mark, Lin or not.
Jared Jeffries has done an outstanding job, not decent, not good, OUTSTANDING job as the pick and roll big along side Tyson Chandler. We know that Amar’e will be injected into that position. Can he be the dive pick and roll player? Yes, because we’ve seen it for years, but he also has to stretch the defense to the mid range a la KG. More simply put, Amar’e can and has to be KG from 4 years ago which is a tall ask, but if can be a poor man’s version offensively then that’s fine too. He can be a big, jump shot end of shot clock making big man as the defense tightens in bigger games in addition to being the explosive catch and finish man off of rolls.
So it would seem that Amar’e will be a fit, which leaves us with Melo, who has to assume the Paul Pierce roll in all of this. Pierce knows when his touches are coming and he learned this very quickly with Rondo in Rondo’s rookie year. Credit Rondo for this, but also Pierce as well. Pierce has learned to CLOSE possessions not DOMINATE them. That’s a Hall of Fame and champion quality.
That takes selflessness.
There was a time where Pierce was selfish and the Celtics were terrible. That has changed because he has changed and because Rondo has made him change. If Melo can read Lin, find space and get to his spot with time on the clock then it will work. If Mike D’Antoni can throw Melo a few bones by isolating him on a few occasions then there can be a balance. My thing is that Doc Rivers has the ability to balance his offense and D’Antoni has struggled to because the system is so point guard heavy.
Again, if D’Antoni can make it work then the team will have success and maybe the make a massive playoff push. If Melo isn’t happy then there will be a coaching change with a man with a zillion rings waiting in the wings. But in the end when Melo and Amar’e return they have to look to the Celtics offensive model to ensure proper balance, which as we’ve seen, is always the key to success.