What it says is the player evaluation and team building metrics in the NBA are worn out, predictable, conventional, monotonous and far too often they are executed by apparently dull witted executives and coaches stuck in a rut when evaluating players.
Kobe Bryant yesterday "“When a player is playing that well, he doesn’t come out of nowhere. It seems like he comes out of nowhere. Go back and take a look, and the skill level was probably there from the beginning; it’s just that we didn’t notice it.” NYT
LA Times:Jeremy Lin was there for the taking ...Lakers discussed signing the guard when he was a free agent, before he was signed and released by Houston. Mike Brown didn't know anything about Lin, who scored 38 points Friday night.....
Lin was compared to Steve Nash by the ESPN commentators and others this week, including Bynum. Lin is about the size of Steve, shoots well like Nash, penetrates well, has what one ESPN commentator said was 'court vision' which allows him to avoid traps and find good passing opportunities. He clearly has basketball smarts and has the basics down.Yet, no, he doesn't do tomahawk dunks.
Lin is not super-physically gifted. He cannot fly through the air, or hang for jumpers like a Derrick Rose. And yet, he is the first player in the NBA in 30 years to score 28 points or more, and 8 assists in his first game as a starter, against the Utah Jazz last Saturday. Isiah Thomas performed a similar feat in his debue in October, 1981.
Of course, we don't know how long Lin will last, but the Knicks aren't going to let him go like the Rockets or the Kings. Magic Johnson said last night at half-time in the NY-LA game that Lin 'was for real'. Magic doesn't say that about every rookie. We also know guys who get compared to Steve Nash don't come along every year. What we do know, is that one heck of a promising point guard was passed up in the NBA draft, was dropped from at least two teams, and almost by luck was given a chance to shine with the NY Knicks. Why was he passed up so often? Just because he was from the Ivy League, which has not had a player drafted since 1995? Just because he was Asian-American, and there are none playing guard in the NBA?
Or is it just because guys who can't two hand dunk, guys who are not big or gifted physically, are glossed over, even for the point guard position in the NBA? The fact that a lot of NBA point guards, like the SUNS Telfair, Brown and Price fit the physical ability specs OK, yet (1) can't shoot well or reliably (2) don't have the court vision to avoid dribbling into traps or hopeless walls of bodies (3) cannot run offenses effectively....does not keep teams like the SUNS from signing them up and suffering the consequences.
Although there is almost certainly no one with the potential of Jeremy LIn out there on a BB court somewhere right now, his experiences would seem to be a wake up call that the metrics for recruiting point guards should expand to include players who make up in BB basics, shooting, passing, court vision and smarts what they may lack in the realm of outstanding physical equipment. Young players like that can make a very big difference for a team, although the chance that they would outscore Kobe in a shootout their first game against the Lakers is a pretty steep hill to climb.