Linsanity When it Counts

Blog post on ESPN that looks at Jeremy’s stats during the final minutes of a game. Not only is he relying on himself to take more shots and control the fate of the final few minutes, but he’s also shooting better than ever then:

Ever since he waved off a coach, a teammate and a playcall before hitting the biggest bucket of his life — that game-winning 3 in isolation in Toronto — it has struck me that in terms of crunch-time temperament, Lin is as much like [Kobe] Bryant as anyone…

Just to test the idea that Lin and Bryant are similarly ball dominant in crunch time, I fired up NBA.com’s fancy secret new stats tool, and found Lin does like to have the ball in his hands in crunch time, almost as much as Bryant, who is an all-timer in that regard.

In the final five minutes of games within five points, Bryant’s usage rate is a high 42.4. Lin’s is close behind, at 36.6 — higher than, say, Chris Paul’s 33.9, and in the same range as Kevin Durant (40.1) and Carmelo Anthony (43.5). You might say that’s heady stuff for a player whose coach keeps reminding people is effectively a rookie.

But also worth noting is that in these short minutes — Lin has played just 39 that qualify — he has had the best true shooting percentage of the bunch. He has taken 24 shots in 39 crunch time minutes, and hit only nine of them. The secret to his efficiency has been that he has made three of his five 3-pointers, while getting to the line an impressive 18 times, while missing just two. The result is a true shooting percentage (a measure that accounts for 3s and free throws) of 58, compared to Paul’s 57.2, Durant’s 53.8, Anthony’s 43.5 and Bryant’s 42.7.

Forum Discussion Thread

New Coach, Old Team

On Wednesday, the Knicks announced the resignation of Coach Mike D’Antoni. After six losses in a row and dropping from the 8th to the 9th seed in the Eastern Conference, there was immense pressure on the Knicks organization to make changes with the impending trade deadline, the head coach would be the first to fall.

While D’Antoni may have taken the blame, the real question on the mind of every fan is, “who is really at fault?” The most common speculations are as follows:

  • Carmelo Anthony: His isolation plays disrupt the fast paced offensive schemes of Mike D’Antoni that has been so successful during the Linsanity era.
  • Amare Stoudemire: His defense has been horrible and even his offense is subpar considering how much he’s being paid.
  • Jeremy Lin: Opposing teams have figured him out and have adjusted to his style of play, limiting his productivity.
  • Injuries: Tyson Chandler, Jared Jefferies, and Iman Shumpert have all missed a few games in the past few weeks. All three are critical defensive players to the Knicks team.
  • Mike D’Antoni: He failed to properly adapt and include the many new players into the team after the Linsanity win streak.
In the end, despite a roster that is seemingly stronger than ever, the Knicks lost 6 games in a row, including some against inferior opponents (though they were even able to topple stronger opponents during Linsanity). While all the above factors were probably involved, the loss of a coach is a much bigger event than losing 6 games when considering the future direction of the organization. Mike D’Antoni clearly left because his coaching methods were not being respected or recognized anymore by either the players and/or the ownership. Unfortunately, since Jeremy is at the very center of D’Antoni’s system like Steve Nash was in years past, his role as the point guard leading the charge is likely going to become limited in the near future. Interim coach Mike Woodson has said as much that he would like to see more isolation plays from Carmelo Anthony, which is purely dependent on Anthony’s ability to hit shots, regardless of who is the point guard. Whether this finds success or not will undoubtedly shape Jeremy’s loyalties when his contract ends this summer.

Knicks PER-spective

As a follow up to Linsanity By the Numbers, I’m going to take another snapshot of Jeremy and the Knicks using the Player Efficiency Rating (PER) developed by John Hollinger of ESPN. Jeremy’s PER ranking has fallen a bit since the game against the Miami Heat, where opponents LeBron James and Dwyane Wade have the top two ratings in the entire NBA respectively. While a single bad game may diminish the Linsanity hype, it’s still only a single data point in the realm of statistics. Here are the top 10 point guards in the league with their overall rankings (*edit* added Rondo by popular demand):

Rank PLAYER GP MPG USG PER
4 Chris Paul, LAC 27 36.3 24.0 26.36
5 Derrick Rose, CHI 27 35.5 29.1 24.88
12 Russell Westbrook, OKC 35 35.2 30.8 23.26
13 Jeremy Lin, NY 22 24.5 29.3 22.99
18 Steve Nash, PHX 31 32.1 22.8 22.52
22 Tony Parker, SA 34 34.4 27.6 21.83
23 Stephen Curry, GS 22 30.6 23.0 21.72
27 Kyrie Irving, CLE 30 31.0 26.8 21.21
30 Lou Williams, PHI 36 26.4 26.7 21.05
33 Deron Williams, NJ 35 37.4 30.1 20.93
64 Rajon Rondo, BOS 24 36.7 23.2 18.26

GP = Games played
MPG = Minutes per game
USG = Usage rate (relative measure of how often they handle the ball)
PER = Player Efficiency Rating (league average is 15)

As we’ve seen in the past with various measures, Jeremy’s performance is in the top tier, though his numbers are more volatile than others since he only has 13 full games under his belt (hence the seemingly low MPG). Even with good, but not “Linsane”, performances like yesterday’s victory against the Cavaliers, his PER can easily maintain its top 20 ranking for the rest of the season.

Here are the PER numbers for the rest of the Knicks (Baron Davis, J.R. Smith, and Jerome Jordan are not included due to limited minutes/games):

Rank PLAYER GP MPG USG PER
40 Tyson Chandler, NY 36 33.4 11.4 19.77
50 Carmelo Anthony, NY 26 34.2 29.2 19.37
72 Steve Novak, NY 24 15.6 15.9 17.61
103 Amare Stoudemire, NY 30 33.6 23.4 16.12
194 Landry Fields, NY 36 31.8 14.8 13.12
213 Josh Harrellson, NY 16 18.5 12.6 12.36
254 Jared Jeffries, NY 26 22.1 11.0 10.69
257 Iman Shumpert, NY 29 29.9 19.5 10.56
300 Bill Walker, NY 30 20.3 14.2 8.46
323 Toney Douglas, NY 26 20.8 23.1 6.32
326 Mike Bibby, NY 21 13.9 13.2 6.11

For the Knicks fans that had to watch Toney Douglas and Mike Bibby be the primary point guard, I feel your pain through the numbers. The other big disappointment from projections at the beginning of the season has been Amare Stoudemire, who is heralded as one of the stars of the team, but is currently barely cracking the league average in PER. Jared Jefferies and Tyson Chandler have both been producing better than their initial predictions, in no small part due to Jeremy’s ball handling for the past 13 games. Jefferies is still undervalued in that the number of offensive fouls that he draws from opponents is one of the best in the league, but doesn’t appear on any stat sheet (should be counted as steals in my opinion).

It will be interesting to see how the PER of each individual Knicks player shapes up throughout the season as their point guard troubles seemed to have been solved.

Full Stats and Discussion on the Forums

Deep Bench, Big Win

Cavaliers – 103 vs. Knicks – 120

Despite being down by as much as 17 points, the Knicks had a strong second half performance, with contributions across their entire roster. 10 Knicks players had 15 or more minutes while 7 players scored in double digits. This is the most the Knicks have scored in a single game all season. Jeremy dueled against this year’s #1 draft pick, Kyrie Irving, at the point guard position.

Jeremy recorded his 4th double-double performance with 19 points and 13 assists (along with 5 rebounds and 1 steal). He also only turned the ball over once the entire game while playing for 33 minutes.

Game Discussion on Forums