Off the Cuff: Bringing In Jeremy Lin

I’m on a train going to cover some games today, but wanted to give some quick thoughts on the Jeremy Lin signing.

I have covered the Ivy League since finishing my playing career at Columbia in 2006.  There is still argument amongst many Ivy League aficionados as to who was the best player to come through the league this millennium.  But one thing no one argues about is who the biggest surprise was.  Undoubtedly, it was Jeremy Lin.  He was never bestowed a ton of hype coming into Harvard but over his first 2 seasons went from good role player to the most versatile and dangerous player in the league in his Junior and Senior campaigns.  During his Junior year, he was the only player in the country to rank in the top 10 in their conference across all statistical categories.  In his senior year, he lit up UConn for 30pts (61% from field), 9 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 monster dunks that put him on the national map.   To those of us that followed the league, it just vindicated what we had been saying for some time.  He may not look like a physical freak, and yes went to Harvard, but the kid can play.

In terms of his game now, he doesn’t do anything great but does everything well.  He’s a combo guard, not a true PG but able to play either position.  He’s a decent 3 point shooter. His mid-range game is his bread and butter.   He is a patient guy on the wing and uses his body well to create space off the pivot.   The most interesting thing about his game is he’s a sneaky good athlete.  He has a good first step and can finish over guys.  He has a solid handle and good court vision.   He has long arms for a guard and good anticipation on the defensive end of the court, which enables him to get a lot deflections and steals.   He’ll need to show improvement in is his lateral quickness on the ball and defending the pick and roll.  The Knicks will need Lin to step up in this area and keep guys out of the lane.

In terms of his role for this squad, he should be a solid guy off the bench.  With Bibby coming back, I think he’ll get most of the 2nd unit minutes at PG with Lin getting some time at PG and SG (maybe 10 mpg total).  He doesn’t have the upside of Shumpert or the same type of physical talent but will be able to pick his spots on offense, play very hard on defense, and rebound from the guard spot.  Lin will help this team most in terms of his effort and basketball IQ.  He’s bounced around the league already in only 1 full season so he will be looking to make an impression in the country’s biggest market.  Looking at this team and the city it represents, the way to do that is by defending, rebounding and just being tough.  I think he’ll understand that and bring all those things to the table.  Additionally, he won’t do a lot to hurt you.  Obviously he is intelligent coming from Harvard, but he really understands the game and the right way to play it.  He may not be the seasoned veteran many people want added to the team, but he will bring it every day and has the intangibles to help this team until B Davis and Shump get healthy again.

Dalen Cuff is a basketball analyst for Columbia University and MSG Varsity and will be breaking down X’s and O’s for all season. Follow him on twitter here.