NBA Draft Preview 2010: Jeremy Lin, G Harvard

Any team looking to find a starting PG in the 2010 NBA draft had best win the lottery and get the top pick. A year after the legendary PG draft of 2009, the pickings for playmakers are going to be thin. That doesn’t mean there won’t be a player or two who surprise the experts though.

The best candidate to pull off such a surprise might be Harvard’s Jeremy Lin. The reason is two numbers Lin posted, 2-point FG pct and RSB40. Lin was at .598 and 9.7. This is impressive on both counts. These numbers show NBA athleticism better than any other, because a high score in both shows dominance at the college level on both ends of the court. Here is a list of recent college PGs who topped .540 and 9.0:

Player

2 pt pct.

3 pt pct

P40

A40

A/TO

RSB40

Andre Miller

.600

.333

18.0

6.6

2.1

10.2

Penny Hardaway

.583

.332

24.4

6.8

1.9

13.0

Steve Francis

.580

.388

22.2

5.8

1.5

9.8

Gary Payton

.569

.333

27.3

8.6

2.2

9.1

Allen Iverson

.546

.366

30.5

5.7

1.2

9.3

Jason Kidd

.545

.362

19.0

10.3

2.1

11.8

Rajon Rondo

.540

.273

14.4

6.3

2.1

10.7

Greg Grant

.544

.485

26.3

6.3

1.7

9.4

Bobby Dixon

.548

.380

20.7

7.7

2.0

9.8

George Hill

.580

.450

24.0

4.8

1.5

10.0

Jeremy Lin

.598

.341

20.2

5.5

1.4

9.7

Bobby Dixon, you ask? He played at Troy from 2003-06. Dixon was listed at 5’10” and 160 his senior year and I’m guessing he was deemed too small. He’s played in France and Italy going on his 4th year now and seems to be getting plenty of PT. I don’t think I need to say too much to sell the rest of the group.

But Lin put up his numbers in the Ivy League, while most of the players on the list played in major conferences. This is a big deal. For players from a small conference the jump to the NBA is a lot tougher. They don’t get the exposure, unless their team makes the tournament. They need to be that much better statistically to stand out. Lin made his mark in the preseason when he averaged 23.3 PPG while shooting 63% in a 3-game stretch against UConn, BC and Georgetown. Typically players from small colleges see their numbers dip, sometimes drastically, when stepping up in competition. That Lin was able to not only be competitive, but excel in these situations is impressive. What I like to do with small college players is compare their numbers to those of successful small college players from the past. Here’s a list of college PGs who have successfully made the jump from small conferences to the NBA and their senior year stats:

Player

2 pt pct.

3 pt pct

P40

A40

A/TO

RSB40

Terry Porter

.575

n/a

22.7

5.0

1.8

8.1

Dee Brown

.521

.375

21.3

5.7

1.8

11.3

Lindsey Hunter

.463

.341

31.5

4.0

1.2

7.6

Speedy Claxton

.500

.381

25.9

6.8

1.8

10.1

Antonio Daniels

.576

.433

26.4

7.4

2.1

6.0

Derek Fisher

.430

.383

16.1

5.7

1.9

7.9

Anthony Johnson

.536

.405

16.2

8.3

2.5

6.4

Jose Barea

.485

.291

25.1

10.0

1.8

6.8

Eric Maynor

.516

.361

25.5

7.0

2.1

8.2

George Hill

.580

.450

24.0

4.8

1.5

10.0

Jeremy Lin

.598

.341

20.4

5.5

1.4

9.8

This isn’t a wildly impressive group. Lin tops the group in 2-point pct, scored over 20 P40 and brings the high RSB40. That’s all good and bodes well for Lin’s NBA future. The bad news is he’s a decent, but not great passer, making it questionable whether he can handle the point. His 1.4 A/TO is the lowest total of this group with the exception of Hunter, who was more of a combo guard anyway. His 5.5 A40 is also on the low side. I like PG prospects to be over 6.0, but this isn’t completely necessary. There were several good NBA PGs who posted an A40 lower than Lin’s 5.5, the best being Sam Cassell and Mark Price. It is also important to point out that Terry Porter, who is by far the most successful player on this list, posted a lower A40 than Lin. So while it would be better for Lin to post a higher frequency of assists, and points for that matter, they’re not so low that I would dismiss his chances of playing PG at the next level.

With seniors who have been somewhat invisible until their final seasons, I think it is a good idea to look at the entire college career. This gives us an idea of whether the senior season is more of an aberration than a progression.

Jeremy Lin

Minutes

2 pt pct.

3 pt pct

P40

A40

A/TO

RSB40

Freshman

506

.473

.281

9.9

3.6

1.0

7.5

Sophomore

940

.527

.279

16.0

4.6

1.5

9.4

Junior

975

.545

.400

20.4

4.9

1.1

9.8

Senior

933

.598

.341

20.2

5.5

1.4

9.7

Lin’s progression looks fairly normal. The .598 might be a tad high, but even at the .545 he was at his junior year he’s still a pretty strong prospect. He’s scored 20+ for consecutive seasons and has 3 seasons over 9.0 RSB40. He has shot 37% on threes the past couple of seasons, so he has shown enough there. The important thing is his senior year doesn’t look fluky or something that was the result of a hot streak.

I like Jeremy Lin as a PG prospect, but he isn’t without flaws and concerns. He isn’t a great passer yet and he didn’t score as frequently as a prospect from a small college should. Both numbers are in the grey area though. They’re lower than I’d like them to be, but not low enough that I’d say Jeremy Lin was doomed as a prospect. That being noted, he does bring that combination of a high 2-point pct. and RSB40, which has been a very, very good thing for aspiring NBA PGs to have on their college report card in past years. This is a weak year for both PGs and combo guards. After John Wall there are no sure things. Jeremy Lin might be the #2 PG available in this draft. He looks to me like a sleeper in the mold of George Hill. He appears to have the skills to become at least a usable combo guard. If he can get the passing thing down and handle the point, Jeremy Lin is a good enough player to start in the NBA and possibly star.

Just a quick note here. I’m going to do the draft preview a little differently this year. Rather than doing long posts covering all the players at each position, I’m going to analyze similar players together. This will mean more posts than usual, but they’ll be shorter. I thought Jeremy Lin would be a good guy to start with, because he’s the one player I probably differ on with the rest of the draft pundits by the biggest margin. Hopefully this new way of doing things works well.

7 comments for “NBA Draft Preview 2010: Jeremy Lin, G Harvard

  1. May 14, 2010 at 10:36 am

    Ed –

    I didn’t think you’d start your in depth player analysis in my back yard. I live in Cambridge and have seen Lin play in person several times. I think he can make it and be a very solid pro – several of my friends do not. One factor to consider is that Lin could possibly make more money being a superstar in China than being the 14th man on an NBA roster.

    Right now I would say that Lin has to improve his overall PG skills, and that’s why his passing stats don’t look all that hot. However, Lin is an exceptional passer in traffic, almost a poor-man’s version of Dwyane Wade in that regard. But he often struggles with his ball handling around the perimeter. He was asked to do basically everything for Harvard, which is another explanation for the turnover rate.

    I hope Lin gets a chance, he’s a pretty unique player. I was also wondering about your thoughts on Landry Fields, you have him rated much higher than anyone else. Cheers

    -Tim

  2. David
    May 15, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    I really like this analysis. The stats don’t lie. But it’s crazy that he still doesn’t get respect from people like Chad Ford because he doesn’t look “athletic” enough.

    If he can dunk, block people on breakaway dunks, blow by people on a 1st step, I don’t really know how much more athletic he needs to get. Ever heard of JJ Barea?

  3. zxcvb
    May 15, 2010 at 11:48 pm

    It’s also worth noting that by playing on team of underclassmen in the less athletic Ivy league, Lin was basically the be-all, end-all focus of opposing defenses in every single Ivy game. That also offsets some of the demerits due to his low-major competition.

  4. johnjones
    July 26, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    Kudos to you Ed. Looks like you’re the only one who gave Lin a chance and he’s the only PG in summer league after Wall who’s actually done something enough to impress the GMs.

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