Mar. 14, 2012; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks interim head coach Mike Woodson speaks with point guard Jeremy Lin (17) and small forward Carmelo Anthony (7) on the sidelines during the second half against the Portland Trail Blazers at Madison Square Garden. Knicks won 121-79. (Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE)
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Mike Woodson, taking over in the interim, has stated that he plans on getting the ball consistently to the team's two highest-paid star players: Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire. Additionally, there have been reports that Woodson favors Baron Davis, the veteran point guard, to Lin. The idea is that Davis is better suited to run a half court offense, which Woodson favors more than D'Antoni's up tempo, pick and roll style that Lin thrived in. Woodson apparently isn't thrilled with Lin's penchant for turning the ball over.
There's a lot there. Let's break it down a bit.
The idea that Anthony and Stoudemire should get the lion's share of the shots is the right one. We all fell in love with Lin during Linsanity. But Anthony and Stoudemire are not only the team's highest paid players (unfortunately that has something to do with it), they are the team's most talented players. They have both proven in their past that they can be elite scorers. For the Knicks to have a dangerous offense, the offense should be designed to get the best out of both of them. It just doesn't make sense to have those two on your team if they're going to take 12 shots each while Lin takes 15. That's bad business, and bad basketball.
Does that mean Lin should be totally marginalized and eventually benched for Baron Davis? NO! Yes, Lin hasn't quite been the same since Stoudemire and Anthony returned to the Knicks' lineup. But that's natural, and to the previous point, should be the case. But Lin should be a talented enough player to play point guard in the half court. Even though with Woodson there will be more isolation sets (there should be when you have Carmelo Anthony), there will also be pick and roll opportunities, which Lin thrived in. Lin doesn't have to take 20 shots to be effective. To say that Lin struggled in any way against the Blazers is ridiculous. He only had six points, but also had six assists and helped orchestrate the offense that blew the doors off the Blazers in the first half. Lin is still learning the pro game. He has the court vision and athleticism to play any style of ball.
Perhaps Baron Davis is better suited for the half court offense than Lin. But benching Lin for him makes no sense unless the Knicks' tailspin continues. It would only sour the fanbase and a lot of the glue guys on the team, guys like Jared Jeffries and Steve Novak who clearly have been galvanized by Lin's emergence. Does Lin turn the ball over too much? Perhaps, but I think you'll see his turnover numbers go down the more the Knicks get in the half court. When you have the ball in your hands a lot, as Lin did when he was running the show, it's only natural that your turnover numbers will be higher.
The Knicks are in no position, however, to play favorites or listen to the media or fans. Nobody's job should be safe. They are fighting for a playoff spot and it's going to continue to be an uphill battle. It's been so long since the Knicks had any playoff success, that if they do make a postseason run, it won't matter who on the Knicks is spearheading the run. If the Knicks get swept with Lin as the starter, fans won't be happy. If Baron Davis starts and the Knicks go to the Conference Finals, the crowd will be chanting his name.
New York fans just want wins. It doesn't matter how they get them, or who gets them there.