The Knicks claimed guard Jeremy Lin off waivers from the Rockets on Tuesday, giving the team another option at point guard while rookie Iman Shumpert nurses the sprained MCL he suffered opening day.
With the Knicks' rookie potentially out two to four weeks, Lin is likely to see some minutes while part of Coach Mike D'Antoni's deeper rotations this season. He joins a group of point guards that of course includes Shumpert, the free-shooting Toney Douglas, Mike Bibby (who missed the Knicks' opener but should be ready to go for tonight's game vs. Golden State), and two-time all-star Baron Davis, who is not expected to be active for quite some time.
With Douglas and Bibby, at the very least, still healthy from that group, it may be a bit surprising to see the Knicks sign yet another point guard. After releasing Chauncey Billups, the team appears set on occupying the minutes at the point guard position by means of a committee, at least until Davis makes his debut.
Keeping that in mind, perhaps there is a place for Lin on the Knicks. He does happen to have different skills than the rest, the most notable one by my standards to be sound defensive talents. The young guard out of Harvard averaged 1.1 steals in only 9.8 minutes per game through 29 contests with the Warriors last season. That's over four steals per every 48 minutes, which is a phenomenal statistic. Who else produces at the level?
Call it beginners luck, but out of qualifying players (Lin's 29 games were not enough), Tony Allen was the only player even close to Lin's production, with 4.14 steals per 48 minutes. Next up was Chris Paul with 3.13 steals.
All this talk about Lin's talents may all be useless, should he not even get a substantial opportunity to strut his stuff in New York. On a non-guaranteed contract, many only expect him to be a Knick for the duration of Shumpert's injury. Even so, "Jeremy's just looking for an opportunity to show what he can do," his agent Roger Montgomery told ESPN New York on Tuesday. "And, what better place to do so, than on the biggest stage in basketball?"
The Knicks certainly have maintained the mentality that one man's trash is another man's treasure, opting to claim the likes of Lin and Steve Novak off waivers from other teams to improve the roster, rather than use the "room exception" to sign a veteran player.
Lin has drawn comparisons to former Knick Chris Duhon, who excelled in Coach D'Antoni's offense early on. With similar defensive skills, he is recognized as a better finisher at the basket. At least one can rest assured Lin would be able to find his way in the offense should he be given a chance.
The Knick coach claimed Lin would strictly be used as a third-guard off the bench after Douglas and Bibby, but due to the lack off depth and natural shoot-first mentality of Douglas (and even Bibby to an extent), I could see Lin finding playing time alongside either one of those players.
D'Antoni also went on to point out that the Knicks' staff was impressed by the Harvard graduate during draft workouts last year.
Because the Knicks' point guards have different talents and are completely different players, there may be a chance that Lin sticks with the team even after Shumpert returns. All that depends on if he is able to hold his own at the point well enough to allow the likes of Douglas and Shumpert to play more comfortably at the two. This is all purely speculation right now, but there are certainly enough ways for Lin to fit in for now.
If his basketball skills don't pan out in New York, perhaps the Knicks can employ Lin as a halftime performer, giving him the opportunity to wow the crowd with this great display of singing and dancing prowess.