Raptors Succumb to Linsanity (Apparently)

Yes, I know, I know. I said I’d post more and then I disappeared for a month and a half. Sorry about that. January was astoundingly busy and this blog came below family, my career, my house and my various civic responsibilities on the priority list, so unfortunately it lost out. Then February came and I just didnt feel like posting.

It’s not as if I hadn’t tried to post something. I started more than half a dozen posts only to be derailed by sleep, family or just life in general. So here’s a short one that hopefully wont get interrupted.

So despite being busy, I’ve been able to watch the majority of Raptor games (although not always getting my full attention), but my DVR is full of unwatched games with other teams. So tonight was my first chance to see Jeremy Lin in action. And it was a big disappointment. No, not because the Raptors lost, but because my stupid, f%#&ing DVR decided not to record the whole game. This wasn’t a matter of hitting the wrong button, either. This was my DVR acting completely screwy – the recording only showed on one of our DVRs despite that not apparently being possible. And the DVR is not full, either. In fact it says it’s only half full, so there should be plenty of room. Needless to say I’m calling Telus in the morning.

So anyway, I was really looking forward to watching this game and seeing how Lin did not only against the Raptors defense, but how he played with Amare Stoudamire, for the first time. See, in his first five games, he had no Carmelo Anthony or Amare Stoudemire, so didn’t have to defer to anyone. And since Mike D’Antoni’s system is rather PG friendly (remember how Raymond Felton looked like an All-Star while a Knick?), I was anxious to see how Lin would do against a pretty good defense (yes, I am saying the Raptor’s defense is pretty good, which is something I haven’t been able to say in a very long time) and when he’s playing with an All-Star.

Well, in what little I saw, Lin was okay (I missed his big fourth quarter), although his defense needs A LOT of work.

What happened in the rest of the second quarter and second half, I really have no idea.  And I missed this…

Now, as I have not seen a full game from him, I can’t really say how good he really is or whether he’s the real deal or not. Maybe some of you (if there is anyone left after my sabbatical) can chime in. What I do know is that people were touting Brandon Jennings as the next Isiah Thomas after averaging 25 and 6 in his first 11 games in the NBA. Then teams started figuring him out and his weaknesses starting coming out (he can’t shoot to save his life- a career .385 shooter- and he’s a poor decision maker- he’s averaged 15 shots per game despite shooting .385).

What I like about Lin, though, is that he’s definitely a PG, despite his high scoring numbers. Unlike Brandon, who shoots way too much and forces too many of those shots, Lin gets his points naturally and makes good decisions. For that reason, I think he’s probably going to be a pretty good player. Thankfully, I have the Dallas-Knick game to watch this weekend on ABC. Hopefully my DVR will be fixed by then.

Now while I, unfortunately, have little to say about the actual game, I do have something to say about the fact that Lin was apparently almost a Raptor. It’s a great story and yet another reason for Raptor fans to feel sorry for themselves, but I’m not convinced the same thing would have happened with the Raptors as happened with the Knicks. Remember that Lin didn’t blow up until he was given the starting position. In fact, New York almost waived him until he had one of the highest scoring starts in NBA history, scoring more points in his first five games than Allen Iverson, Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal and many, many others.

In Toronto, he would have been sitting behind Calderon, and with a very different offense, might not have had the freedom to be able to perform like he has in New York. People constantly underestimating just how important circumstances are to a player’s career and performance. Lin was put in a perfect situation for him. He was given the starting position in a system that is EXTREMELY PG friendly (remember how Raymond Felton looked like an All-Star in New York?), and allowed to not only play through his mistakes, but didn’t have to defer to anyone (with Carmelo Anthony and Amare out).

Ever wonder why a player flourishes in one place then struggles in another? It’s because circumstances often dictate how well a player will do. There are obviously some players that will succeed no matter what their circumstances, but for most of the league, that’s simply not the case. Would Steve Nash have had a Hall of Fame career if he’d stayed in Dallas? Would Darko Milicic have become a better player if he had not had Larry Brown beating the confidence out of him?

I know it’s nice to think Lin almost brought Linsanity to Toronto, but there’s really no guarantee he would have performed any better than he did in Golden State.

Edit: Apparent ESPN’s J.A Adande had very similar thoughts…

7 thoughts on “Raptors Succumb to Linsanity (Apparently)

  1. The kid definitely has the tools.

    But he’s got some warning flags:

    A: Seems to like the 3 even tough he’s not that good at it.
    B: He waited way too much on the last play and gave him no opt out if his penetration didn’t work (Saves his ass by draining the 3).
    C: Turns the ball over like his salary depends on it, he’l have to cut down on them big time.

    Just seems to be learning issues, but he’s definitely a PG. Pretty smooth for his size too.

    • I’d love to be able to either agree or disagree with your assessment, but since I didn’t even get to even watch a full half, I’m going to have to take your word for it (yes, I’m still a little bitter, but I had been looking forward to watching the game, and for once I had some time to sit down, uninterrupted…).

      Anyway, I fully expect him to come down to earth, but it is amazing seeing him continue so far. Rubio started off shooting over 50%, but now he’s below 40%. Still he’s making a huge impact, so there’s no reason Lin can’t continue to do that, even if he stops putting up All-World numbers.

      He is a great story, though. Coming completely out of nowhere to dominate like he has. The racial thing is probably the least interesting thing about it for me. Still, when you think about it a little, when exactly did a Harvard graduate become the “little guy”?

  2. It’s good for the league while it lasts. People and not just fans are talking about him, which makes the league talked about–in a positive light.

    After Lebron and the decision, the move of other players, the lockout, crappy play all season– the NBA needed this story.

    Let’s face it. He is the anti-Lebron. Nothing was given freely. He seems to be truly humble, comes from a good family, stayed in school to earn a real degree, works hard, and as for the race issue, that a very large market that the NBA can and will exploit.

    Yao was ok, but he wasn’t an ABC/CBC. I always felt that his marketability was more “pushed” than organic. Worked for fans in China, but he wasn’t exciting.

    Glad to see you back

    • @Argie,

      I agree. I don’t think the NBA could have written a better story to improve their image. As for Yao, I think the hype was simply taken from his popularity in China and the fact that he was a legitimate NBA Hall of Fame center talent (the guy was a 25ppg, 10 rpg big man when healthy).

      The funny thing about Lin’s Asian popularity is that he apparently doesn’t even speak Chinese. It just seems there’s something inherently racist about cheering for an American born and raised player because he looks a certain way. WOuld it be acceptable to cheer for a basketball player because he’s white?


      While I obviously haven’t seen much of Lin, I like what I’ve heard (and what little I’ve seen) about him being a true PG. The guy does seem to know how to make his teammates better, which is a vastly undervalued skill for PGs, lately. I’d say there are only a handful of decent PGs in the league who actually know how to run an offense. Calderon is one and Lin seems to be another. Give me a PG like that over a PG like Devin Harris any day. And while I was a big fan of Russell Westbrook when he came out of UCLA, I don’t know if the Thunder can win a Championship with him at the helm. He puts up good assist numbers, but, like Brandon Jennings, he has never learned when not to take a shot.

  3. Check out the league leaders in AST% on basketball-reference. Jeremy Lin is 2nd in the league with a 51.5 AST% paired with a 20.4 turnover percentage. Those are John Stockton numbers. His assist-turnover ratio is a poor indication of how well he has played. His assists are deflated because he has played with a terrible offensive team with Amar’e, Carmelo replaced by Bill Walker and Jared Jeffries, and his turnovers are inflated because he has the 5th highest usage in the league.

  4. Rusell Westbrook will ultimately break the OKC Thunder. 5,5 to 4,5 is terrible. IMO if they can get a ”real” PG, and some help down low they’re a lock.

    • Okay, I will fully admit to not following the league as closely as I normally do, this year, and I had to look up Westbrook’s stats because I really didn’t think those numbers could be true, but they are. Wow. How much do you think Oklahoma wished it had done the Westbrook-Chris Paul trade that was talked about last June?

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