Some numbers: 25, 28, 23, 38, 20.
Those are the scoring totals that point guard and erstwhile NBA reject Jeremy Lin racked up each of his last five games -- all wins -- while playing for the New York Knicks.
Before that, Lin, a Palo Alto native waived by the Warriors last year and cut by the Rockets before the start of the season, had never scored more than 13 points in a game. His career points-per-game average is 5.6
There are a lot of angles to this story, not the least of which is the possibility that a week, two weeks, or a month from now the law of averages is going to catch up with Lin and this scoring spurt is going to read as little more than a footnote to the NBA season.
To that point, however, statistical and polling guru Nate Silver wrote this on Saturday, before Lin's 20-game:
The New York Knicks’ Jeremy Lin has scored at least 23 points in each of his last four games, including 38 on Friday night against the Lakers. He has also recorded at least seven assists in each game, and he has been efficient, shooting at least 53 percent from the field each time.
Just how common is something like this? I searched basketball-reference.com for other streaks that were in the same general ballpark: players who scored at least 20 points, had at least six assists and shot 50 percent over a period of four consecutive N.B.A. regular season games.
Since the 1985-86 season, 41 players have had such a streak in addition to Lin...Just three of them — Pooh Richardson, Jay Humphries and Lionel Simmons — were mediocre N.B.A. players even at their peak.
In other words, while it is possible that Lin will turn out to be the next Pooh Richardson, the odds are in favor of a more impressive outcome.
In the meantime, this is a great story. Lin is the
first Asian-American to play in the NBA, and the first player from Harvard since 1954. (Update Tuesday: Apparently Lin is not the first Asian-American to play in the NBA. Check out this Sports Illustrated column on Wataru (Wat) Misaka, who played three games for the Knicks in 1947.)
He is also a devout Christian. KQED's Mina Kim today talked to Stephen Chen, pastor of Redeemer Bible Fellowship in Mountain View, who says he has been a mentor to the 23-year-old since he was in 8th grade.
"He attempts to play for an audience of one," Chen said of Lin. "For God... He wants to be able to glorify God whether he wins or whether he loses. He wants to be able to use this platform that God has given him, and to be able to tell others about the gospel and the need for people to come to faith.
"Obviously he's overwhelmed, there are a lot of things going on, a lot of people are demanding his time. There's a lot of people pullng him in a lot of different directions. I think the way he's handling it is he understands at any moment he can go from hero to zero, so to speak..."
Quite true. New York can be a brutal, unforgiving town for professional athletes. You can see the kind of glorified treatment he's getting from the tabloids -- the Post and the Daily News. it wouldn't take much for that storyline to change.
- For Lin, Erasing a History of Being Overlooked (NY Times)
- Fox Sports' Jason Whitlock apologizes for Jeremy Lin tweet (LA Times)
- Jeremy Lin Video: How to Get Into Harvard
- Palo Alto's Jeremy Lin becomes toast of New York (SF Chronicle)
- Jeremy Lin says faith in God triggered 'Lin-sanity' (SJ Mercury News)
- For Lin, a Rare Harvard Career Path (NY Times)
- Video: Race a factor in Lin-sanity? (ESPN)
- More Lin videos (New York Knicks)
- Jeremy Lin photos from Palo Alto High School
- Video: Jeremy Lin, Landry Fields special handshake
- NY Knicks schedule and nationally televised games