He can't be duplicated, but even Linsanity can be imitated. Now that New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin has suffered a potential season-ending injury, fans who were swept up in the excitement surrounding the Harvard grad will be left stranded when it comes to finding the next underdog player to make an impact (often referred to as "Linning"). Not to worry - here are five players that can do Lin-like things for their respective teams and provide them with a lift down the stretch:
Ramon Sessions has been a solid NBA player since he came into the league in 2007 out of the University of Nevada. He has posted career averages of 11.1 points and 5 assists per game. His latest stint with the Los Angeles Lakers has seen his numbers and stock rise. In 10 games with the team, he has posted 13.3 and 6.8, respectively. Fans in L.A. are truly excited when he's on the floor displaying speed and athleticism they were missing for so long. Much like Lin, he has the opportunity to breathe life into a franchise that could use a little excitement.
J.J. Hickson was never undervalued coming into the NBA out of N.C. State. His challenge, much like Jeremy Lin's, was to get recognition in the league. That didn't happen until he was able to showcase what he could do in the right system. The Portland Trailblazers would be the team to give him a chance in 2012, and he made the most of it through six games. He is averaging 15.8 points and 6.3 rebounds per contest, both well above his career averages in only 27.7 minutes per game. He also sent a message that he is a legitimate NBA player with a nasty dunk on DeAndre Jordan of the Los Angeles Clippers.
There hasn't been much to be excited about in the nation's capital when it comes to professional basketball. The Washington Wizards have been a disappointment in every aspect. Having said that, Cartier Martin led the team in scoring with 20 points in his return to the Verizon Center in a rare win against the Philadelphia 76ers on March 30. I caught up with Martin after the game and asked him about leading by example following that win. "My job is to come in and give energy" he said. "I think everybody kind of fed off of it." Martin has paid his dues in the D-League, just like Jeremy Lin, and he is hoping that he won't have to look back this time.
Gerald Green is known as a high-flying dunk artist, but lately he's brought a lot more substance to his game. The New Jersey Nets are another team that hasn't had very much positive news to talk about of late, but Gerald Green has been a quiet bright spot for the team. As they prepare to move into their brand new facility in Brooklyn, New York for the 2012-2013 season, Green could figure to be a significant contributor in both the entertainment and production department. He is averaging 11.5 points and 3.4 rebounds per game in 23.1 minutes and could see an increased role moving forward. His connection to Lin? He's a D-Leaguer and journeyman in his own regard, having played for five NBA teams at just 26 years of age. Another interesting note is that the Los Angeles Lakers cut him before the season officially began back in December. With a bench that is struggling as much as theirs, Gerald Green would've been a nice addition. Hindsight is 20-20.
The Atlanta Hawks are a middle-of-the-road team in the Eastern Conference playoff race (a six seed through 54 games), so it's no surprise that one of their most interesting stories on the year comes in the form of 28 year-old rookie forward Ivan Johnson. A 6-8, 230 lb. workhorse, Johnson has provided inspiration for his teammates after fighting his way through the ranks of the D-League. He played college basketball at Cal State San Bernardino of all places. It doesn't get more Lin-like than that.
Michael C. Jones is a Yahoo! Featured Contributor in Sports and follows all developments across the NBA.
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- Jeremy Lin
- Cartier Martin
- Gerald Green
- New York Knicks