He came out of nowhere to capture the hearts of his teammates, then New York, then the country and finally the world. Oh, and he did it all in less than two weeks. By this point you’ve heard all about Jeremy Lin, but do you really know the deal? He’s more than a crossover-dribbling, stereotype-smashing inspiration for increasingly terrible puns who has averaged 24 points and 9 assists a game in leading the Knicks back to relevance. Get all your burning questions answered here.
Why wasn’t Jeremy Lin drafted?
Well, he played at Harvard, and while the team is actually pretty good this year, Harvard tends to suck at hoops. During his best season Lin averaged 17.8 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 4.3 assists. So you have a 6’3″ point guard who put up good-not-great numbers playing for an Ivy League also-ran. Oh, and he’s Asian-American. It shouldn’t matter, but when everyone else isn’t Asian-American and most GMs are terrified of risk, it doesn’t help.
Was there any reason to expect a brighter future?
Lin scored a career-high 30 points in a loss to perennial power UConn. So against a team coached by Hall-of-Famer Jim Calhoun and boasting some NBA-level talent, he was at his best.
How likely is it that an undrafted player becomes a star?
Not bloody likely. The last second round draft selection to stand out is San Antonio’s Manu Ginobili, who dropped to the 57th pick because it was uncertain whether he’d ever actually come to the NBA. Often high draft picks are complete busts, but it rarely works the other way.
Prior to this year, how had Lin fared post-college?
He played in the NBA Summer League, the D-League and overseas, desperately trying to crack an NBA roster. Last season he appeared in 29 games for Golden State, averaging 2.6 points and less than 10 minutes per game before they cut him. Note: the Warriors went 36-46, meaning this guy couldn’t manage to get a single start on a team that by the end was playing for absolutely nothing.
So how did he get a shot with the Knicks?
They were desperate.
Yup. Since making the NBA Finals in 1999, the Knicks have been less a pro franchise than the world’s sleaziest party boat. Off the court, they’ve generated bizarre scandals like a creepy Isaiah Thomas sexual harassment trial and Nate Robinson trying to collect a debt from naked teammate Malik Rose by jumping him in the showers. On the court, they’ve been terrible, and they failed to reach the second round of the playoffs last season even after adding All-Stars Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony. Then they started this season 8-15. The lack of a true point guard was a key problem, as coach Mike D’Antoni’s innovative offenses just don’t click without a Steve Nash type to direct them. Opportunity, anyone?
Are there any factors making it easier for Lin to break through this year?
The lockout. Limited training camps plus the NBA cramming in as many games as possible has resulted in some phenomenally sloppy basketball. Lin is a smart, quick kid playing at his natural position, a decided edge when so many guys are confused or exhausted.
What are the biggest reasons to worry about his NBA future?
In two words, “turnovers” and “defense.” He averages over six of the first and has gotten lit up on the second (see Deron Williams’ 38 points against the Knicks Monday night). Also, he’s done most of his damage versus weaker teams. Then again, with the scheduling madness, saying, “Just wait until Lin has to face the elite teams!” should be qualified by noting that this year the vast majority of squads fall somewhere between “so-so” and “please don’t look at us.”
Will Carmelo Anthony’s return F everything up?
Nah. There will be ugly games as Melo returns to playing shape—and having a top scorer back on the floor will almost certainly cut into Lin’s record-level scoring—but it should eventually boost Lin’s assists and make it easier for him to score the points he does get.
Can Lin take the Knicks to a title?
They’ve gone 8-2 since Lin’s first start, but it’s still hard to see them overtaking the Chicago Bulls, much less the star-studded Miami Heat. That said, the second round of the playoffs might be possible, and that would be a massive step forward in Knickland.
What’s the least funny Lin “pun” so far?
After the Knicks lost their first game with Lin as a starter, ESPN ran the headline “Ch-nk in the Armor.” Really. They quickly pulled it and apologized. Oh, and the headline writer got fired. Nice knowing ya, Jimmy the Greek The Next Generation.
What’s the worst fear of every Knicks fan?
That, like virtually every other player the Knicks have acquired in recent years, he’ll turn out to have a bizarre personality defect that will wind up poisoning the team. While he appears to be the anti-Stephon Marbury so far, weird things happen with the Knicks.
Last but not least, is he really dating Kim Kardashian?
In a recent interview, he said doesn’t think they’re each others’ “type.” We can only hope that’s true, because we deeply, deeply fear the debut of Keeping Up with the KardashiLins.