Jared Zwerling participated in a roundtable discussion on ESPN.com today to discuss the impact of Lin-sanity and how Baron Davis, Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire will adjust, including the Knicks' playoff chances.
Here are Zwerling's responses to the five questions:
1.) When Baron Davis is healthy, who should start: Davis or Jeremy Lin?
Zwerling: Lin, because when Davis is healthy, it won't mean that his conditioning level will be up to speed with how he's feeling. He'll need at least a few weeks after he returns to get back into game shape. Plus, Lin is playing too well right now -- he's even drawing comparisons to Steve Nash by top NBA experts -- and the Knicks are "riding him like Secretariat," as Mike D'Antoni said last week, referring to the much-needed confidence and momentum he's bringing to the team.
2.) When he returns, will Carmelo Anthony struggle to adjust to Lin?
Zwerling: No. Melo should benefit from playing with Lin, who has the ability to get into the paint and keep defenses off-balance with his patient playmaking maneuvers on pick-and-roll plays. Recently, the Knicks' spacing and ball movement have been sharper, and those factors have enabled Landry Fields, Iman Shumpert and Steve Novak to get open shots and find lanes to the basket. Melo will capitalize even more from midrange, his hot zone. Before Lin, he was taking too many contested shots.
3.) Will the Knicks make the playoffs? Will they contend in the East?
Zwerling: Yes and yes. The Knicks have obviously been blessed with Lin's sudden surge, but it will be interesting to see if he can keep up his standout play. With Anthony and Stoudemire back in the lineup, that means around 15 points and eight assists per game. If Lin can handle the higher minutes and adjust to Melo especially within their current pace (not ball stopping), it will enable Fields, Novak and especially Shumpert as the sixth man to keep thriving. And with Tyson Chandler and Jared Jeffries, they're already locking down on defense.
4.) What's the best Jeremy Lin pun you've seen?
Zwerling: "Happy Va-Lin-tine's Day!" With Feb. 14 approaching, the Knicks, and the entire world for that matter, have already signed, sealed and delivered their Hallmark cards to Lin.
5.) Lin was #NBArank 467 in August. Where does he belong now?
Zwerling: Currently, Lin's backcourt teammate Fields is #NBArank 128. Who's after him? Atlanta Hawks backup point guard Kirk Hinrich, who's declined in his career and is averaging only 5.2 points per game. That's a place for Lin, even though he's just five games into his unbelievable streak, scoring 109 points -- the most out of any player in history after four starts. Lin has proved in each game he can direct the pick-and-roll and penetrate with a ferocity and a finishing ability that more than half of the point guards in the league can't do.
What are your thoughts? Leave us your comments below.
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