No need for Riley's contrite comments on Lin

February 10, 2012, 8:19 pm
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Warriors general manager Larry Riley is known around theleague as being a nice guy. And he is.Maybe too nice of a guy. The other day, the New York Timesasked Riley about point guard Jeremy Lin, who has had three impressive gamesfor the Knicks in the past week.The Warriors waived Lin at the start of the season after hehad been with the team all of 2010-11.Said Riley: I have egg on my face in telling you that Ididnt think he was going to become a starting point guard with a goodteam.
First of all, there was no need for Riley to say that.Secondly, its not true. Not yet anyway.I dont think Riley has egg on his face. The truth is thatnobody envisioned Lin playing like he has the past three games. But the realityis that the NBA is a cold, hard league and three games arent verymany.STEINMETZ: Jackson, Warriors no regrets about Lin
Also, Lin is not a starting point guard with a good team.One, hes not yet the starting point guard. And, two, the Knicks are not a goodteam. Lin is starting because of injury, and all indications are that whenBaron Davis returns, hes going to be the starter.Yes, the Knicks have won three in a row, but theyre stillonly 11-15, and wouldnt qualify for the playoffs if they were held today.None of this is meant to take anything away from Lin, who isrelentlessly hard-working, steadily improving and quietly as tough a player asthere is in the NBA.Its more meant to say that in Rileys attempt at being anice guy, he overstated Lins ability and made it seem like the Warriors hadmade a big mistake by letting him go.The bottom line is Lin isnt as good as this and wont be asgood over the course of his career as hes been the past three games. In otherwords, no, he cant keep this up.On the other hand, there is no doubt that Lin is a muchbetter player than the one who was on the fringe of the Warriors roster aseason ago. So, how good is he going to be?Well, the guy who comes to mind for me when I think of Linis Flip Murray. But let me be clear. It has nothing to do with similarity ofgame. It has to do with similarity of their situation.In 2002-03, Murray played in 14 games 12 for Milwaukee andtwo for Seattle. He didnt do much, scoring just 27 total points. Few had heardof Murray, who had attended Shaw University (Raleigh, N.C.).The following season, Ray Allen was hurt to start the year,and Murray started at shooting guard. Murray opened the season with thesescoring nights: 24, 22, 24, 24, 29, 20, 16, 26, 31, 26, 21.Eventually, Allen returned and Murray came off the bench,but he finished up having a nice season, averaging 12.4 points in 25 minutesper game and establishing himself as a bona fide player in the league who wouldbe around for a while.Murray ended up having a nice career as a rotation playerand averaged 9.9 points in 22.7 minutes per game. He came off the bench most ofthe time but started here and there.He could be counted on to give you scoring off the bench andwas a consistent player in terms of what you could expect from him.Thats what I see for Lin. I dont see him as an elite pointguard, someone who can keep up what hes been doing. But I dont see him as anon-contributor, either.I see him as a guy like Murray (again, not game-wise butrole-wise) a backup with a defined role, and someone who maybe can start on anot-so-great team or on a good team if a starter is injured.Its the same way I think of a point guard like JarrettJack.If hes your starter, youre probably not going to be verygood. But if hes coming off the bench, well, thats not bad.Look, nobody saw this coming from Lin and, quite frankly,it couldnt have happened to a nicer person. But things are eventually going tosettle down, and when they do, we may all find out that Lin is still a verynice role player in the NBA.And that Larry Riley didnt have to be so nice.