Sunday, February 12, 2012

Jeremy Lin in historical perspective

This is an interesting statistical analysis of the significance of Jeremy Lin's performance in his first 4 games. As Magic said during the Lakers-Knicks half-time show: "Jeremy Lin is FOR REAL"!

His 20 points and 8 assists (but below 50% shooting percentage) last night against the Timberwolves may have elevated him to roughly the 5 streak level. The other factor that needs to be considered is that these were his first 5 games as a starter. As far as that goes he's number one in recent NBA history, beating out Allen Iverson.

It's kind of shocking to think that a phenom like Kenny Anderson turned out to be an "average" NBA player. (Video -- "Greatest guard ever in the history of NYC HS basketball.") But that's what happens in a field that selects effectively from a large talent pool.

Does this look like a future NBA All-Star? (Age 15)


Ken Condon said...

He almost made it 5 straight, failing last night with >50% shooting percentage. But he had 8 assists, 6 bounds (including 2 offensive) showing he is more than just a scoring machine. This really is a great story and so non sequitor. Oh no--Chinese take over the world of science, economic output, and now rule the NBA. Whitey-run for cover ;)
One hopes he remains injury free.

Ken Condon said...

I see you already posted the stats Steve--I only glanced at your post. Need my coffee.

Ken Condon said...

It will be interesting to see how coach D’Antoni handles the situation when PG Baron Davis returns to the lineup. Team chemistry is hugely important as is dealing with some players fragile egos. Davis was the 3rd pick in the 1999 draft. I have no opinion on his ego but he seems to be a strong competitor who I am sure does not want to gather splinters. I gleaned all of this just recently as I have not been following the Knicks nor the NBA in general this season-until the fantastical appearence of Lin. My interest in the league waxes and wanes as I suppose it does for many.
That is another reason the Lin story is so huge. Nothing like upsetting the cart to spur a little interest in what was becoming (IMO) a moribund league of overpaid, uncoachable babies.

Yan Shen said...

 Rubio played him pretty well in the second half.

Richard Seiter said...

It's interesting that the Knicks sites I have seen the last few days are full of speculation about what will happen when Stoudemire and Anthony return but haven't had much about Davis.  I'm in about the same place as you with the NBA.  The Jeremy Lin phenomenon is a great ride and I'm looking forward to seeing just how good he becomes.

Yan Shen said...

 My guess is that Baron is not going to start ahead of Lin. Everyone thinks that Amare and Lin should mesh well together, given that Amare likes to run the floor and executes the pick and roll well. He did that with Nash in Phoenix. The bigger question mark is how Carmelo will fit into the new style of basketball that the Knicks are playing. Carmelo likes to have the ball in his hands and far too often his teammates just stand around and watch.

Ken Condon said...

I’m thinking too that this highly compressed season will be tougher on all the players making them perhaps more injury prone in their fatigue. As I said earlier it would be a great loss for the league and BB fans in general if Mr. Lin were to sustain a serious injury. 

Iamexpert said...

What percentage of the American born NBA is now east-Asian American and how does that compare to their percentage of the U.S. Population? How does their proportional representation compare to white Americans and Jewish americans?

David Coughlin said...

Baron Davis was a stopgap pickup on technical considerations.  He was a bridge to The Future.  No one really thought that The Future was already around.

Anyways, as is noted around the internet, the schedule means there are enough starts for everybody.

Yan Shen said...

"The other factor that needs to be considered is that these were his first 5 games as a starter."

Lin came off of the bench against the Nets. But he's started the past 4 games against the Jazz, Wizards, Lakers, and Timberwolves.

RKU1 said...

Well, I'll admit I don't follow basketball and hadn't really heard of this Jeremy Lin fellow until just the last few days, but I do think there's an interesting possible HBD angle to this.

From what I've been reading, it sounds like Lin had actually had a very impressive previous record, and it was a little strange that he hadn't been drafted early or afterward allowed to play much.  I'd assume that "bias" was a pretty large factor, in that no one in professional basketball really believed that a 6'3'' Asian from Harvard and Palo Alto could possibly be all that good, despite whatever his record indicated.

Interestingly enough, Lin seems to have completely accepted this unfortunate situation and just continued to wait, hoping that some opportunity to show his actual talent might eventually come along, which it now---spectacularly---did.  I suspect that under similar circumstances, most whites or blacks would have long since just given up, perhaps angrily denounced the league and its managers, and gone off to do something else.  But I think that for cultural and probably innate reasons, Asian people have a much greater tendency to quietly persevere even in the face of an apparently unfair or hopeless situation, and just continue to "eat bitterness."  Depending upon events, this may be both a positive and a negative psychological trait.

Anyway, that's my impression from the stories in the paper.

Yan Shen said...

Another Lin fact...


"He sent his CV (4.2 GPA, perfect score on his SAT II Math 2C in the
ninth grade) and a DVD of highlights—edited by a friend of a friend from
church—to all eight Ivies, Stanford, Cal and his dream school, UCLA.
Only four schools responded. Out of the Pac-10, Lin recalls, UCLA
"wasn't interested," Stanford was "fake interested," and during a visit
to Cal a staffer "called me 'Ron.'""

The SAT II Math 2C was harder than the SAT I Math section content-wise, but had a far more lenient grading curve, i.e. IIRC you could miss like 5-6+ questions on the 2C Math test and still get an 800. I knew someone who scored a 790 on the SAT II Math 2C and a 730 on the SAT I Math. I'd say that a minimum Lin's math ability is around the 750 level on the SAT I math.

Richard Seiter said...

I know you're joking, but I wonder if there is a correlation between spatial intelligence and court vision/the ability to see passing angles.

Stuart Buck said...

He clearly had some great moves in college.  Check out the shot in the play starting at 1:18 or so. That's a clutch shot I would expect from Jordan or Bird.  

Ken Condon said...

Sheesh Yan.  You may be right but don't read too much into this. Jeramy Lin is a stellar athlete and a very good basketball player. I am sure Mr. Lin would agree with that

assessment, and perhaps, might be embarrassed pointing to his academic achievements as a reason for his athletic success. His main goal now is to play the best basketball he can-within the framework of the team.

I would also venture to guess he would very much not like to be held up as the savior Asian in the NBA. He is an athlete and a very good basketball player. We (I) hope that will continue-for many reasons. The main one being that he adds a very intriguing element into the NBA and, by extension, into the world. Basketball is a very popular and highly skilled global game.

As in most things in life time will tell. Mr. Lin will need luck, skill, talent, perseverance, and some other intangibles to succeed long term at his current elevated level. Three years will tell if he passes that test.

dwbudd said...

It was bound to happen.

Jeremy Lin, Chinese-American phenom, is a phenom not because he's played incredibly well when given the chance, or that he has worked hard at his skills, or that he's really something of a black sheep being the first Harvardian in the NBA in 60 years.

No.  It's because mainstream America wants a "white" star in the NBA - i.e., anti-black racism.

You read that correctly. 

Jeremy Lin is basically white, because he's not black. 

dwbudd said...

We were living in Los Altos, California (the next town down the 101 from Palo Alto) when Lin was tearing up the court playing for Paly.  He led the Vikings to the CCS championship his senior year.  So it was a big surprise that NO ONE in California wanted him.  Not Berkeley.  Not Stanford.  Not UCLA or USC.

Ditto, when he came out of Harvard, having put some damned impressive performances in against teams like Connecticut.  Coach Calhoun said Lin was among the best players his team faced that year.  No one drafted him.

The Warriors signed him, put him on the bench, and then cut him.  I guess in a sense, that explains why Golden State has not been a serious NBA team for two decades.

Some argue that his background was not a factor.  Does anyone actually believe that?

Richard Seiter said...

Two tidbits I had not seen before.  From

Lin was eventually sent back to the NBA's hinterlands -- the D-League -- for the fourth time in his career. But he wouldn't stay long. The Knicks brought him back after he logged a triple-double in his first game.
Then, on Feb. 4, at halftime of a home game against New Jersey, injured Knicks star Carmelo Anthony suggested to coach Mike D'Antoni that he play Lin more in the second half.

Yan Shen said...

Not quite a discussion about spatial intelligence, but it looks like someone already started thinking along somewhat similar lines...

Ken Condon said...

And we see upon inspection that linked blog #2 is written by you bwbudd. That’s fine and dandy and you raise some good points--but are you suggesting that racism is confined to whites only? Or perhaps does it extend to all other ethnicities as well? I’ll answer that- of course it does. It is built into our DNA as human animals (identification with our own tribal members and suspicion of “the other”). It at one time served to protect us as the other was most likely a very real threat. This globalism thing is putting an end to that but not without much wailing and gnashing of teeth.
The transformation in our minds from viewing another person first by their ethnicity and then perhaps getting beyond that is, and will be, a long road to hoe. And even if “we” all end up intermixing and producing progeny of a brownish color I am quite sure the subsequent look alike humans will find other reasons to define their tribe as being the better (or best) one. Genetic and cultural heritage is a bitch.
But it also poses the ultimate non PC question. What are the differences between ethnicities and what are the strengths and weaknesses of each?

Yan Shen said...

Anyone see the game winner Lin hit against the Raptors?

dwbudd said...


You don't need a lot of "inspection" to see the second item was my response to the first.  It was not intended as some sort of Trojan Horse.

Please do point to me how I am suggesting that racism is confined to whites only.  Quite the opposite.  I commented that I found it patently ridiculous that the first author - ostensibly a professional writer - suggested that the "hype" around Lin was white people needing to identify a non-black star.  I.e., that (a) Lin is popular because of white racism against blacks and (b) Jeremy Lin, because (I guess) he is not black, is more or less white.

Does either of those propositions strike you as likely?  Reasonable?

To your final question, I don't know if it is PROVEN that there are genetic differences in certain abilities between the races.  But I also reject the sort of arguments of the likes of Stephen Jay Gould, who pretty much said that racial evolution cannot be a factor in intelligence because...well, it just can't.  

The empirical data, and they are manifest, pretty strongly support the idea that there are differences.  For example, this summer, look at the ethnic makeup of ALL of the competitors in the 100m dash.  Not only will they all be of black African descent, but virtually all of them will be from West Africa.  Is that likely to be the result of "culture?" (many, for example, will come from the US or Canada, where their families have lived for several generations; others will come from Jamaica.  Maybe the UK.)  Is it likely to be random?  People who claim that there is not a significant genetic component to this defy reason.

What's missing is the specific identification of the gene.  Without that, it's not possible to say with 100 per cent certainty.  

I see no reason, by extension, that if one race predominates in certain skills like the long jump, or distance running, or short bursts of speed, that others could not have similar, genetic abilities in mathematics, or language, or other cognitive skills.  It's just that the former lacks the political taboos that the latter holds, and thus to admit the possibility of racial differences is simply too socially inconvenient.

Finally, I think that genetic mixing is likely to blur some of the race-based differences, and strengthen some of the other contributions.  We pick partners who are socially and cognitively similar to ourselves.  If intelligence is strongly heritable, this means that, regression aside, people of lesser intelligence will fall further behind (cluster around a lower mean with a smaller group standard deviation) and those of greater intelligence will get further ahead (cluster around a higher mean with a smaller group standard deviation).  "Smart" people of different races will marry, and people of lower intelligence of different races will marry (or, if Charles Murray's recent book is to be believed, simply have children without marrying).  Race will be somewhat less of a factor than will class.

We'll see.

BTW, Lin poured in another 27 last night, including the game-winning three pointer.  He was 2-2 on 3PT shots.  So much for Bissinger's whinge about him having "no outside shot."


Richard Seiter said...

Yes.  That was a sweet shot.  And he made a three point play to tie the game right before that.  Brilliant finish by Lin.

Michael Bacon said...

You know, the best thing I see are the smiles on the faces of the other players.  I don't know how long it will last, maybe money, playing time and rest will reassert itself at some point and attitudes will change, but for now these million dollar players are actually enjoying the game, getting excited and loving what they're doing.  This is why they started playing sports -- they were good and it was more fun than anything else.  So it is again, if only for now. 

Ken Condon said...

*Does either of those propositions strike you as likely?  Reasonable?*

*What's missing is the specific identification of the gene.  Without that, it's not possible to say with 100 per cent certainty.* 
I think it’s likely a combination of several or many genes and/or alleles. Sort of like a musical chord. One can have an augmented chord, or a diminished, a 7th, a major, minor.... all serving to create a certain sound or tone in a given human. That this can’t be studied without running into political no-no walls is unfortunate-to state mildly.

Ken Condon said...

Clarification--Yes to the first. “Reasonable?” Are tribal interactions reasonable?

Ken Condon said...

This is when things get weird. The mixed blessings of stardom:

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