#2 – He makes quick and simple decisions off of the pick-and-roll
Anyone who has played basketball for more than five minutes knows there is one play – regardless of who you are playing with or against – that works every time down the floor, so long that you run it correctly. Of course, that play is the pick-and-roll (P&R). Just ask John Stockton or Karl Malone.
Unfortunately, the number of young point guards who understand how to run it seems to be low every season. Guys like Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook eventually learn it, and run it passably well, but the true wizards of the P&R like Nash, Paul, and Rondo are few and far between.
Well, quite frankly, Jeremy Lin might belong at that elite level already – and it’s not because he’s doing anything super-duper out of the ordinary.
Via ESPN’s Ryan Franklin, before Saturday’s win against Minnesota, Jeremy Lin ranked THIRD in the entire NBA for points among pick-and-roll ball-handlers. Why? Because he makes the following three decisions quickly and executes them perfectly.
Decision #1: When the help defender hedges too early, Lin immediately drives the other direction into the wide open lane for a layup.
Check out the 2:33 mark of this video:
The worst thing a point guard can do on a P&R is hesitate. He has about 1 second to not only decide what he wants to do, but also execute that decision quickly and correctly.
Too many times, you see a point guard take one or two extra dribbles, and by then, it’s too late. The defense has adjusted and the opportunity is gone. In fact, he might all of the sudden be facing a double team and turn the ball over.
Lin is like a precision QB. He sees the throw and makes the throw.
Decision #2: When the help defender hedges either too late or not aggressively enough, Lin immediately hits the roller for the driving score.
Check out the 1:38 and 2:10 marks of the same video.
Of course, this is much easier when you are playing with Tyson Chandler, maybe the best P&R alley-oop center in the game. In any case though, Lin is doing something that Iman Shumpert and Toney Douglas never figured out:
If Chandler’s man hesitates, and ends up hedging too late on the screen, he is in no-man’s land. If he doesn’t hedge hard enough, and fails to effectively stop Lin and make him switch directions, Lin again is making the man pay. If either scenario happens, all Lin has to do is throw the ball at the rim, and Chandler will reward him with the dunk.
Again, the key here is the immediacy of Lin’s decision. If he waits even a half-second too long, the help defense will have rotated over and Chandler won’t be open. Lin runs the play to perfection again.
Decision #3: When the defense switches, he can easily blow by opposing bigs.
(Check out the 3:30 and marks of the same video.)
Obviously, this has a lot to do with point #1, that Lin is an exceptional athlete. But it bears repeating.
For the past five games, teams have often switched on Lin, assuming that the Chinese-American from Harvard wouldn’t be quick enough to get into the lane. They have been wrong – and they have been burnt repeatedly.