After coming out of the NBA scrap heap, Jeremy Lin is now the best player on the most recognized basketball team in the world.
How did this happen? Lin has continued his breathtaking ascension into NBA stardom and has the New York Knicks playing better basketball - they are 9-3 in the 12 games he's started - than they have in years. While he is not perfect and shouldn't be anointed as such, he has been extremely effective and given life to a team that was in desperate need of a lift. Here is a close look at what makes Jeremy Lin so good:
I'm not a big fan of this term, but if having a high "basketball" I.Q. ever applied to anyone, it does to Jeremy Lin. Yes, he's a Harvard grad, but it takes a lot more than book smarts to translate good decision-making onto the floor. He has the ability to see the court and has already made other players around him better by being able to anticipate plays before they develop.
There have been plenty of outliers in NBA history that would suggest otherwise, but having good size at the point guard position is an advantage. At 6'3" and 200 lbs., Lin is able to spot teammates, which helps him make plays and utilize his great vision. Any way you look at it, size always matters in a league where much of the game is played above the rim.
After being written off by the entire league, Lin had to have incredible perseverance to continue to pursue his dream of playing in the NBA. Both the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets didn't give him an opportunity, but he took full advantage of the chance he got with the Knicks. Clearly, it was hard work that paid off to get him to this point.
Natural leadership skills
After watching Lin first-hand in Washington, it was clear that he was the leader of a team that lacked direction. The team was inspired playing with him, and that is a rarity in professional sports. Dare I say it, but it is one of the reasons there have been so many Tim Tebow comparisons - guys want to play with Jeremy Lin.
The perfect system
Knicks head coach Mike D'Antoni runs an up-tempo, run-and-gun type of scheme where plays are made often in transition. Jeremy Lin enjoys attacking the rim and works best when penetrating in order to create. He has been able to fit right in to this style of play and continues to be the focal point of a newly-dynamic offense. Though it is not the only reason for his rapid success, it is a contributing factor. Interestingly enough, he is making Carmelo Anthony adjust his game to match the increased speed with which the team plays - and it's worked.
Oh yeah, and he's good at basketball too
All of the intangibles in the world are fantastic, but if you can't play ball, then none of it matters. Jeremy Lin can flat out play, and combined with the factors noted above, the sky is the limit in terms of his ability to progress as a player. It would be easy to say he will never go down as a basketball Hall-of-Famer, but then again, he's been written off before.
Look what happened the last time someone doubted him.
Michael C. Jones is a Yahoo! Featured Contributor in Sports and follows all developments across the NBA.
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- Jeremy Lin