Two days after Christmas 2011, I remember laughing at the Knicks for claiming Jeremy Lin off the waivers. I even wrote it down in my diary: "The Knicks had a very funny joke today." I am a Knicks fan, and a bandwagon fan at that. Who can blame me after an era of incompetence, highlighted by Isiah Thomas giving away draft picks like Frank Lucas handing out Blue Magic? But when Amar'e arrived in 2010, I felt inspired. Even though I was disappointed in the Melo trade that sent away a clutch point guard and a sharpshooter small forward, I tried to keep an open mind.
Still, an offense lacking chemistry has worn on the patience of Knicks fans. Obviously, the hole at point guard has been a major problem. Filling this position were a disappointment (Toney Douglas), an athletic, rookie shooting guard in disguise (Iman Shumpert), and the only player in the NBA who is fragile enough to make Greg Oden look invincible (Baron Davis). The Knicks were disjointed and had trouble creating offense without someone passing the rock. Despite beating the Boston Has-Beens on Christmas Day, it was a bad start to the season. Entering New Jersey well under .500, the Knicks needed a spark. Luckily, Lin came off the bench to score 25 points and lead the Knicks to the win. After that improbable victory and going Rack City on the Jazz, Wizards, Lakers, and Timberwolves, Lin has established himself as a household name. In the absence of Melo and Stoudey, the unlikely Lin has lifted the underachieving organization.
Lin has been most ease in his scoring. Putting up 25, 28, 23, 38, and 20 points in the past few games, Lin has accomplished one of the most impressive streaks ever for a player's first five starts. "He's got my attention," says Mark Haar, Holy Cross senior, preeminent scholar on Asian living, and basketball enthusiast. Standing at 6-feet, 3-inches tall and weighing 200 pounds, Lin is both quick and physical enough to drive to the basket and draw fouls. However, Lin has been most effective in passing the ball. On an offense that is usually monopolized by Carmelo "Ball Hog" Anthony, Lin is exactly what the Knicks need to spread the ball around. Finally armed with a true point guard, other Knicks have thrived, including Steve Novak. Players love Lin's hustle and confidence, inspiring the rest of the team. The Knicks have also stepped up their defensive game since his emergence. As a result, Lin has been canonized in New York, sparking phrases such as "Linsanity," "All I do is Lin," and "BalLin."
I look at the Jeremy Lin situation with reserved optimism. There is no doubt that Lin will cool off from this hot streak. It is clear that Lin is already getting fatigued with his increased playing time at the end of games, and he is also getting banged around due to his willingness to initiate contact. It will also be interesting to see how his game changes with Stoudemire and Melo back in the line-up, facing pressure to get the ball to both superstars. He was also in need to find a way to cut down on his turnovers. Still, Lin's driving and passing abilities will continue to draw defenders and create opportunities for the other stars.
In the worst case scenario, Lin fizzles out and the Knicks are back where they started. In the best case scenario, Lin continues his improbable Victor Cruz-esque emergence and leads the Knicks to a title. More likely than both of these situations, Lin will provide a serviceable upgrade at point guard and continue having occasional breakout games. Either way, I am going to ride out this hot streak like Derek Klinka on the Salty bull.