I want to expand on a point made by Rob Celletti in his Thursday article. Here in the aftermath of Jeremy Lin seemingly cementing his place in the New York City headlines for the rest of the basketball season, with a thrilling 38 point, 7 assist performance en route to the Knicks fourth straight victory, this one over Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers.
The discovery of a point guard changes everything for this Knicks season. Mike D’Antoni’s system can’t function without a point guard, much like the Green Bay Packers offense couldn’t function without a quarterback. Lin appearing out of nowhere, gives the opportunity for the Knicks to run out a deep, well-balanced line-up with everybody set up in their proper roles.
When everybody returns, Amare Stoudemire will have a point guard to who can execute the pick and roll, which will make his game that much better. There is much hysteria about Carmelo Anthony fitting in, but he is too smart of a basketball player not to recognize the advantages of having a playmaking guard like Lin, as Kobe Bryant pointed out yesterday. Tyson Chandler is already playing at an All-Star level at center.
Landry Fields can remain in the starting line-up and has been playing much better. He is confident again on offense and is strong on defense. More importantly the Knicks now have the makings a strong second line, which is an absolute must in this shortened season. If Baron Davis returns healthy, him and Iman Shumpert provide an explosive backcourt off the bench. Shumpert is now free to embrace the role of defensive stopper and an aggressive offensive player who attacks the basket. Jared Jeffries, for all the grief he receives, is an excellent defensive and intangibles player to bring off the bench. Steve Novak and Bill Walker provide 3 point shooting wings, who can score in spurts. If there is an injury, Toney Douglas, Mike Bibby, Renaldo Balkman, and Josh Harrellson (when he comes back) provide emergency depth players who have experience.
There is no denying the league is wide open this year. If you get into the playoffs anything can happen, especially if you are ten deep. The Knicks might have just stumbled into that, with the emergence of Lin as a starting point guard, Novak as a sharp shooter off the bench, Shumpert back in his proper role, and Fields playing confidence again.
The show continues tonight in Minnesota and then with a very manageable slate of games next week, which could see the Knicks finally get back to and over .500.