Tyson Chandler and the New York Knicks lost their beloved Jeremy Lin to our Houston Rockets this past offseason and I'd say more than a few New Yorkers are still pretty bummed about it. They certainly have a right to be, unless you'd like to try to convince them that Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd can "out-think" and "out-wise" their opponents, the crafty (or in Felton's case, crappy) veterans they are.
Chandler spoke with Newsday recently about the Knicks' impending point guard situation — and apparently, he's a fan of the new crop, as opposed to the endless carousel that engulfed the Knicks' point guard play last year. He's got a point: three weeks of Lin aside, the Knicks really had a terrible time finding someone to handle those duties.
I thought he made that point more interesting after he was presumably asked to explain himself:
Chandler said the Knicks didn't have a point guard to get himself, Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire the ball in their comfort zones last season. In Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd, the Knicks have experienced floor leaders who already have made a difference through the first four days of training camp...
"Baron was hurt the whole year and giving us everything he had. Jeremy was a young point guard who was inexperienced, who brought a great light to the organization. But as far as being able to run the offense and putting players in the right position he just wasn't there. We got some veteran point guards that are capable of doing that."
Just to make sure Tyson was right, I consulted with The Dream Shake's enormous stat machine, simply known as BETTESBANC (Better Even Than The Elias Sports Bureau And NASA Combined), and found that the Knicks' offensive efficiency was 102.7 in the 26 games in which Lin ran the offense.
For reference, the Rockets' offensive efficiency for all of last season was 102.8, good for 12th in the league. Overall, the Knicks finished 19th, with an efficiency of 101.4 (San Antonio led the league at 108.5). So Lin was an upgrade to be sure, but New York's popular rookie and NBA Bodybuilding Champion in the point guards category, Iman Shumpert, wasn't exactly irreplaceable.
I think Chandler could be right in some aspects — the offense could have been better. It was incredibly one-dimensional and relied heavily on Lin for production through the pick and roll.
But there's a catch: What point guard is going to run a smooth, pitch-perfect offense with isolation scorers throughout the roster?
Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire, JR Smith... each prefers to either catch and shoot right away or square up his man and drive. These men do not pass the rock, and that's going to make life difficult for a point guard who is likely the only capable passer and the only willing passer on the floor. Maybe Kidd's pass-only mentality will work for this team, but I think Lin did the best he could with the hand he was dealt (a hand that often included an injured Melo).
Lin fits much better with this Rockets team than he did with the Knicks, perhaps with the exception of the pick and roll game, where Chandler and Stoudemire have consistently proven their worth to point guards everywhere. Otherwise, Lin is surrounded by a bunch of versatile players who can do things all over the floor. There's no telling how it will all come together, but if there is someone on the roster who has proven he can shoulder a load if need be, it's Lin.