I was alerted to an excellent article on Jeremy Lin by MrPingPong, a long-time reader. participant, and writer of this site, in his comment to a previous article of mine. This article did such an excellent job of summarizing Jeremy Lin’s journey from the second half of last season with the Lakers up until now that I decided to feature it here in case others might have missed MrPingPong’s comments. Anyway, the article is called “Part 2: The Jeremy Lin Saga Continues…JLin Strikes Back as a Hornet”. It is written by a stat guy named Tom Gardner, who is a die-hard Knicks fan and took some time off from his analysis of the election to provide some insights on Jeremy Lin. The article, not surprisingly, includes some great stats and is very objectively written with lots of facts and figures. I urge you all to go read the article. It’s a little long, but well worth it and I can tell Tom spent quite a bit of time on it, because it’s very detailed and thorough.
I do have one point of contention with the article and I think one stat line may be incorrect. In an attempt to discuss Jeremy Lin’s upside, Tom highlighted stats for games in which Jeremy Lin started at point guard as the primary ball handler (i.e., without Melo, Harden, Kobe or Kemba). Tom counts a total of 28 games that meet this characteristic. I’ve also done something similar to this in my previous articles on this site, so I’m glad to see someone else doing this, as well. However, I think it’s statistically irresponsible for Tom to include Lin’s games with the Lakers for a number of reasons. But the biggest reason is that in those games, Lin averaged only 27.6 minutes, whereas Lin averaged well over 30 minutes those other games that he included in the 28-game sample as you can see below:
From a statistical point of view it doesn’t make sense to lump games in which Lin average well under 30 minutes to games in which Lin averaged well over 30 minutes together. As you can see from the points column, the data for the games in which Lin averaged only 27 minutes is very much an outlier to Lin’s average points from his days with the Knicks, Rockets and Hornets. In the nine games with the Lakers in which Lin started without Kobe but played only 27 minutes, he averaged only 11.8 points, which is what you’d expect someone to average with those minutes. Whereas in the other 19 games, Lin averaged well over 20 points! So it doesn’t make sense to lump the data together. I’d like to point out that Tom, admittedly acknowledged that it’s “a little squirrely” to include the Lakers games, because Jordan Clarkson held or shared point guard duties with Jeremy Lin in many of the nine games that were included in his data set.
To me, if Tom wants to gauge Lin’s potential, then it would make more sense to just include the games in which Lin started and got starter minutes, which is over 30 minutes a game, and is not playing alongside a ball-dominant superstar and, thus, allowed to play his game. In other words, I think it would be more accurate to take out the 9-games from Lin’s time with the Lakers altogether, since he only averaged 27.6 minutes during those games. In the process of doing this, I discovered that some of Tom’s “Total (average)” stat line from the stat above is incorrect. Now, I’m not a stat guy, but in backing into the data that Tom provided, I got the following total numbers and averages with my discrepancies highlighted in yellow, with red font and boxed in bold borders:
The only stat of Tom’s that aligned with my computation is steals. I got 1.28 for steals (based on a total steals number of 36), which can be rounded up to 1.3, which is the number that Tom got.
Anyway, just thought I’d point out a potential error in Tom’s computation, because I don’t want to send readers here to an article that potential contains incorrect data. It’s not that important. What I really want to do is calculate Lin’s average, excluding those 9 Lakers games. Here is Lin’s stat line in the 19 games in which he started and played over 30 minutes without Melo, Harden and Walker:
Rather than just putting the averages for those stats, I included the total data and then calculated the averages, so you can see how I got the numbers. As you can see, Lin averages 22.8 points, 7.8 assists, 3.6 rebounds, 5.1 turnovers and 1.5 steals. what’s more astounding is that Lin’s win/loss record is 14 to 5! That’s a 74% winning percentage! And this is why a lot of Lin fans continue to say, “No Lin. No win” to deaf ears. If teams care about winning games, they’ll give Lin the keys to the offense, just like D’Antoni did and they’ll be rewarded handsomely. Lin single-handedly brought an otherwise very mediocre Knicks team (that should have been a lottery team) to the playoffs.
Chris Baldwin, in his most recent Jeremy Lin article, had a great way of comparing Jeremy Lin with James Harden. Harden puts up superstar numbers that don’t impact team wins, whereas when Jeremy Lin puts up superstar numbers it has a huge impact on team wins. “Harden’s a compiler, a stats-gobbling force. I watched him rack up one of the most statistically impressive — and completely meaningless — triple doubles ever in a loss to the Detroit Pistons. Try 36 points, 17 rebounds, 14 assists and no real game-shifting impact. It’s hard to put up that monstrous of a triple-double without completely dominating the game. Harden managed it. Contrast that with Lin’s 24-point, eight-assist, five-rebound night against Cleveland, during which he kept the Eastern Conference’s best team continually off guard with his playmaking, fearless drives into the lane and defense.”
That’s the thing that makes Jeremy Lin a true superstar: when used the right way and when given starter minutes, he helps win games. Even when playing off position this season, according to Tom, Lin is 7-4 for the Hornets when starting in place of Batum, which is a huge improvement over the rest of the Hornets’s games in which they’ve gone 20-23. So anyway you cut the data, giving Jeremy Lin more minutes gives teams more wins. It’s baffling how people’s ingrained perceptions have blinded them to statistical truths.