Friday, February 10, 2012

LIN-sanity/Player parody

"A player can only be as good as his coach thinks he is," one league executive said. "There are a bunch of guys who are one coach liking them away from being a decent player in this league. If your coach has you on a short leash and pulls you out every time you make a mistake, you're going to play like crap."

"Jeremy Lin is just like a whole bunch of guys," the executive continued. "I've seen three guys in the D-League recently who are like him. He's no better than he was two weeks ago. But he's been given an opportunity with a coach who believes in him."

The quote above is what a NBA league executive said about the amazing recent play of  Harvard alum and Chinese sensation Jeremy Lin. This view of his play is going a bit against the grain of the masses, who have all but crowned Jeremy Lin King of New York after 3 games. The more I thought about it, the more I tend to agree with this league exec (and I think anyone that has played sports can agree), but that is not really a knock on Lin as much it is a compliment to how amazing professional athletes are.

I believe there is a ton of parody talent wise individually in professional sports, much more than most think. Aside from the elite group of top tier players in the league (8-10 players), I truly believe the rest of the guys are VERY close in talent. This can apply for any sport, but let's focus on basketball here for the sake of Lin. I believe the fantasy basketball geeks out there agree with me on this as well, let's look at some of the "replacements" have performed for guys in the NBA recently:

Player/stat line - (R) - replacement
-Kyrie Irving 18/5 -(R) Ramon Sessions 24/13
-Carmelo Anthony 22/6 -(R) Steve Novak 19/4
-Chauncey Billups  15/4 -(R) Randy Foye 15/2
-Danilo Gallinari 17/5 -(R) Arron Afflalo 26/2
-Derrick Rose 22/7 -(R) CJ Watson 15/7

It's always been amazing to me that a team can be missing a normal starter and a guy off of the bench steps in and replaces his stat line, but it happens every night in the NBA (and in other sports). It's sad that this even has to be mentioned, but everyone in the NBA is exceptionally talented, and is in some way shape or form a basketball genius. Yes, the "bum" at the end of the bench of your favorite team is actually a basketball genius. This is why I am not surprised when I see guys like Jeremy Lin, who went undrafted and has been cut from 2 NBA teams (has also played in the D-league) in his short career, flourishing when given the opportunity. When you have a league with so many talented players, confidence means everything. Golden State head coach and ex player Mark Jackson stated, "Having a coach believe in you is half the battle, so I'm a guy that believes the confidence a coach has in a player is a bigger part of an individual's success than most people think. I've seen coaches kill players by taking a guy out when he makes mistakes."

Jeremy Lin was cut from the Houston Rockets, he was beat out by Gorin Dragic and Johnny Flynn. He was also cut by Golden State, beat out by rookie guard Charles Jenkins (who I have never heard of before). If you put Gorin Dragic/Johnny Flynn/Charles Jenkins/Jeremy Lin/the vast majority of the PGs in the NBA in a gym, I'd be willing to bet you would be hard pressed to say any of them are better than the other. Close your eyes and choose randomly, flip a coin. Johnny Flynn may do the same thing Lin is doing now given the opportunity with the Knicks, as would Dragic. Is Derrick Rose better than Jeremy Lin? Of course, but not THAT much better. I think some people think Derrick Rose is 3 times better than all backup PGs in the league, it's not the case. A lot of things can separate you as a player from your competitors, but in pro sports the margin is SLIM. The best shooter in the league shoots .02% better than the 2nd best. 

The NBA executive quoted above is correct, Lin is not better than he was 2 weeks ago, what changed is the chance he was given. People act like Jeremy Lin was pulled off of a local LA Fitness floor and asked to lace them up for the Knicks last minute, and is performing a MIRACLE. Is he playing well? Of course. Let's not take that away from him at all. Culturally I think it's a much bigger story than the amazement of his actual abilities. But let's not be shocked the next time a Jeremy Lin "explodes" on the scene, let's take it for what it is: another brilliant player in a league full of brilliant players getting a chance.

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