When awful play and locker room turmoil led Mike D’Antoni to quit as head coach of the New York Knicks the first thought that ran through many people’s minds was how it would end Jeremy Lin’s Cinderella story.Interim coach Mike Woodson named Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire the ring leaders, not Lin. And since Woodson’s offenses while at the helm in Atlanta weren’t anything special Linsanity was declared dead.
But through all the negativity, Woodson has the Knicks in the middle of a five-game winning streak.
True to his word, the offence doesn’t run through Lin as much as it used to while D’Antoni was in charge. (Note: we took the Knicks February 4 win over the New Jersey Nets as a starting point for these numbers because that’s when Linsanity began.)
- Four of the Knicks five games during their winning streak rank among the bottom 10 games this season as far as Jeremy Lin’s usage rate is concerned
- Lin averaged 36.4 minutes per game with D’Antoni, but under Woodson he only averages 29.4 minutes per game
- Lin’s points per game have dropped from 20.4 to 14.8
- Lin’s assists numbers are also down from 8.5 a game to 6
It’s easy to look at those numbers and say the Knicks are successful without Lin taking over games, but that isn’t quite the case.
The first sign that these numbers are skewed is Lin’s drop off in points. They’re down almost 6 points per game even though his minutes are only down 7 per game. That amounts to nearly 1 point per minute less. NO ONE averages a point a minute, so something must be up.
Well, four of the Knicks’ five games during their winning streak have been blowouts. With the one game that was actually close, Wednesday versus the Philadelphia 76ers, featuring a heroic fourth-quarter performance from Lin.
This means Lin’s numbers are down primarily because New York has had big leads and used their bench during garbage time.
There’s a better way of showing a player’s performance that gets rid of any bias related to fewer minutes played, i.e. Jeremy Lin’s the last few games. It’s stats per 40 minutes.
In that department, Lin’s numbers are virtually unchanged:
Points/40 under D’Antoni: 22.4 Points/40 under Woodson: 20.1
Assists/40 under D’Antoni: 9.3 Assists/40 under Woodson: 8.2
What does all of this mean?
Mike Woodson’s public statement about his stars leading the team during crunch time was probably just a way to fire them back up after a terrible stretch of games.
And despite those comments, Jeremy Lin is still the same old Jeremy Lin who took February by storm.
More importantly, the Knicks schedule gets harder and harder from here on out with five games combined against Miami, Orlando, and Chicago over the next few weeks.
So the Knicks will need Lin to continue to play like he did Wednesday night against Philly.
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