I could have headlined this article with any number of the Jeremy Lin puns that I saw last night, but Linsanity is the only real way to describe the phenomena. I’m not going to pigeon-hole him into any Tim Tebow-like comparisons, because I’m sure Skip Bayless will do it for all of us later, but I will say that I’m actually looking forward to the hype. Lin has always come across as a humble kid that worked hard and never got a chance. What’s not to like about that? He put up 23 points on 9-of-14 shooting with a career-high 10 assists, a steal, a block, and one nice crossover on John Wall that finished in a dunk.
If you want to predict that he will be the waiver wire pickup of the year I’m not going to argue with you, and if you want to sell-high I’m not going to argue with you. It’s hard to go wrong selling a guy during a fever pitch, and it’s conceivable we’re looking at Lin’s ceiling with Carmelo Anthony (groin) and Amare Stoudemire (personal) out. But watching Lin direct world champion and All Star candidate Tyson Chandler during a break in play last night, it’s clear the kid has what it takes to manage the New York Knicks. It’s also clear that, as Doc pointed out on Twitter last night, that hundreds of talent evaluators in the NBA got it wrong here. My Warriors regularly barf all over themselves in this area, and to think they could have depended on Lin while trading one of their small guards for a small bounty is sickening.
More to the point, Lin has a game that lends itself to understated leadership, and that’s what owners will want to key on when Anthony returns, specifically. Make no mistake, if it’s not Jeremy Lin’s town already, it will be very soon unless Melo decides to hop on the bandwagon and play nice. If the Knicks lose with Melo back in tow, everybody and their mother will buy tickets for him out of town and calls to play with the ball in Lin’s hands will be deafening. The fact that Lin is a humble guy will help Melo live in his new reality – and that bodes well for the entire group. The best thing the Knicks can do is stick Anthony in the pick-and-roll with Lin on Day 1 and then on Day 2 and let them figure it out. Ditto Amare. Their return could signal a decline in Lin’s fantasy value, but if the Knicks build around Lin’s strengths and get their two other superstars going toward the hoop it could be a fantasy bonanza, too.
I said I wouldn’t kill you for selling high, and if you’re into that sort of thing consider his averages of 25.3 points, 3.7 boards, 8.3 assists, 1.7 steals, 0.3 treys, 0.3 blocks, 3.7 turnovers and 58% field goal shooting in 38 minutes per game in his last three contests – good for second round value in 9-cat leagues on a per-game basis. Looking forward, go ahead and slide the minutes down but not too much, knock his counting stats down if you like as he loses touches, and bring his shooting percentage back into Earth’s atmosphere. After I’ve done that I’m not willing to predict a drop-off below early mid-round value. So that’s my floor on a deal. And I’d be looking to get a fourth rounder at worst with the very real chance that Lin stays healthy and productive under Mike D’Antoni’s guidance.
Yes, I have Jeremy Lin fever. And the only cure for it is more of it.
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YOUNG COACH SYNDROME
The best thing about this game was Will Ferrell announcing the starting lineups. Jarrett Jack (knee) was a late entrant to the starting lineup, sending Greivis Vasquez to the bench and maybe to the waiver wire in your league. Jack scored four points on 2-of-11 shooting with two rebounds and three assists in 28 minutes against a tough Bulls squad, and if we had to project things today we’d have to guess that Jack would be the starter 10 days from now. But really, it’s Monty Williams’ world and we’re all just getting jerked around in it. He refused to tell anybody who he was starting until well after Jack had finished in the layup line, and as Adam Levitan put it simply on Twitter, “they’re 4-22.” Maybe it’s time to lay off the caffeine, Monty. Vasquez, meanwhile, was rewarded for helping to carry the Hornets over the last week with 20 bench minutes, and finished with five points on 2-of-7 shooting, three rebounds, and four assists. Unless you have a sure-fire free agent on your radar I’d advise owners to exercise patience, but the leash here is going to be short with Monty exercising young coach syndrome.
Randy Foye debuted at shooting guard following Chauncey Billups’ season-ending Achilles’ injury, and predictably scored 15 points with two assists, a steal, and three triples in 28 minutes. Not trying to be that guy, but this is exactly what I pictured when Billups hit the floor. Foye tends to consistently post these numbers in this role. Congratulations if you aggressively made the add. Mo Williams hit just 2-of-10 shots for five points with three assists and two steals, and might have been pressing against his old Cavs squad. If somebody in your league wants to panic about it, by all means go out of your way to be a good citizen and help them out.
DeAndre Jordan might also be causing a panic with his recent knee soreness, and his zero shot attempts with four boards and two blocks last night aren’t helping. The good news for owners is that Jordan’s garbage-man game wasn’t a good fit against Anderson Varejao and it’s not like four rebounds is extremely out of character for him. I’m still preaching patience here and this could be a sneaky buy-low chance, with sneaky being the operative word. If he does it again we’ll hoist the red flag.
TWO DOWN, ZERO TO GO
The last time we checked on Blake Griffin he was blocking shots at a 2.4 per game clip over five contests, and I noted how the two-category punting play was morphing into a one-category punting play with free throws being the final blemish. Since then, Griffin decided to borrow Chauncey Billups’ pre-shot routine at the foul line, dribbling three times instead of just hoisting up the shot. And wouldn’t you know he has now hit 15-of-17 shots from the foul line over his last two games. He also posted a tidy 25 points, 15 rebounds, one steal, but didn’t have a block. That’s okay because it was his first game without a block in seven games, and including the eighth game last night he’s averaging 1.75 blocks per game. Back to the freebies, I’ve experienced it and seen it countless times – a player tweaks their shooting motion and gets instant results – only to fall back into prior patterns and show little-to-no improvement. Regardless, if there is a time to move on Griffin it will be sometime this week after a slow night. A ten percent increase from the charity stripe would catapult him up the charts.
THE DAY AFTER DANILO
Arron Afflalo slid over to small forward and had a quiet night with 12 points on 4-of-12 shooting with two threes, two steals and not much else. Rudy Fernandez scored 17 points off the bench on 6-of-9 shooting (including two threes) with three rebounds and a steal in 29 minutes, and as I mentioned yesterday looks like the better pickup of the two. Chris Anderson drew a start at center and played 14 minutes with two points, two boards, and two blocks, which may have satisfied owners looking for the latter category in a spot-start. Use the Birdman at your own risk.
Kyrie Irving was a late, late-scratch yesterday after a concussion suffered in the fourth quarter of Tuesday’s game rendered him unable to go, and in stepped trade candidate Ramon Sessions with a career-night including 24 points, 13 assists, a steal, a block, and two threes on 9-of-16 shooting. Sessions is an interesting asset right now as the Cavs will ride him hard in preparation to move him, but his fantasy value will be entirely dependent upon where he lands if he’s moved. He shouldn’t be on any wires, but I’d tend to peg him as a sell high guy while there is some hopeful wonder out there that he will land as an unchallenged starter somewhere.
Daniel Gibson (neck) returned and jumped right into the Cavs’ starting lineup, and responded with 17 points, a steal, two blocks, and two 3-pointers in 35 minutes. The neck injury doesn’t sound too concerning, and Boobie is the Cavs’ best perimeter defender. He’s going to get minutes, but I can’t see calling him a must-add player in 8/9 cat, 12-team leagues just yet. He’s a better fit as a short-term add while guys are out with a decent amount of upside. Rounding out the Cavs report, Alonzo Gee played 32 minutes but struggled to hit 2-of-8 shots for seven points, three boards, three assists, and three turnovers. I don’t think you drop him after one bad effort but he has a 1-2 game leash for owners in the aforementioned formats.