Jeremy Lin: Why All the Turnovers Don't Matter

Lin had 28 points, 14 assists and 7 turnovers in Sunday's 104-97 win against the Mavericks.
Lin had 28 points, 14 assists and 7 turnovers in Sunday's 104-97 win against the Mavericks. Reuters

Jeremy Lin is the toast of the sports world.

Lin has led the Knicks to an 8-1 record in their last nine games, while putting up big numbers. The Knicks victory against the defending champion Mavericks on Sunday proved to many that New York, as well as Lin, indeed is the real deal.

The only knock on Lin has been his propensity to turn the ball over.

In his first eight career starts, Lin has recorded 52 turnovers. That's more than any player in history.

Despite his play over the last few weeks, many commentators have stressed their concerns about Lin's turnovers.

But this flaw in Lin's game is overrated.

Because Lin has the ball in his hands for so much of the time, he's bound to commit more turnovers than most.

The point guard's usage percentage is third in the NBA. Usage percentage is an estimate of the percentage of team plays used by a player while he's on the floor. Lin has the ball in his hands more than anyone in the league, except for Kobe Bryant and Russell Westbrook. 

Lin may average more turnovers each game than any player, but these numbers don't tell the whole story. A better number to look at instead of total turnovers is turnover percentage. This statistic measures how many turnovers a players commits relative to the number of plays he is involved in. The phenom's turnover percentage is much better than his turnovers per game.

Future Hall of Famer Steve Nash has a worse turnover percentage this season than Lin. The Knicks guard also has a comparable turnover percentage to Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo.

Not only does Lin have the ball in his hands for most of the time that he's on the court, he plays more minutes that just about anybody else.

Lin has averaged 40.5 minutes per game since entering the starting lineup. The current leader in minutes per game is Kevin Love at 39.8.

Against the Mavericks on Sunday, the Knicks took a 12-point lead into the second quarter. Dallas tied up the game with Lin on the bench, and Mike D'Antoni was forced to play his point guard the rest of the game. New York couldn't score without Lin on the floor.

They need Lin to attack the basket and try to make plays. His style of play is bound to produce some turnovers.

Since his emergence, Lin has been the MVP of the league. In the past few weeks, he's averaging 25 points, 9.2 assists, and 2.2 steals per game. Lin would be in the top five of all those categories if he played enough games to qualify among the league leaders.

Lin is in his second year and just started playing consistent minutes a few weeks ago. How good should he be?

Without the turnovers, Lin would be playing better than anybody in the league, and it wouldn't be close. That's a little too much to ask from a player who went undrafted out of Harvard.

More important than anything, Lin's team is winning.

The Knicks are the hottest team in the league since Lin has been getting significant minutes. They were in a downward spiral before that time.

New York's turnaround can be directly correlated to Lin's play. As long as the Knicks keep winning, his turnovers are meaningless.

It's understandable why people are criticizing Lin for his high number of turnovers. He's the biggest story of 2012. His game is bound to be nit-picked.

Every player has a flaw in his game, even the great ones.

Dwight Howard is a poor free throw shooter. LeBron James does not have a great mid-range jump shot. Dwyane Wade is a poor three-point shooter.

Since becoming the starter, Lin is averaging 6.5 turnovers per game. The Knicks have only one loss in that time.

That's the only number that really matters.

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