Commentary

Stopping the Linsanity

Jeff Van Gundy reveals how the league can catch up to Jeremy Lin

Updated: February 22, 2012, 11:59 AM ET
By Tom Haberstroh | ESPN The Magazine

How do you game-plan for the unknown? That's the conundrum for teams facing Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin, who balled in obscurity on the mean streets of Harvard and the NBA D-League before going all Tebow on the NBA. Opposing coaches -- many of whom will get their second look at Lin in March -- are surely parsing game film for the best way to contain the Knicks' suddenly efficient pick-and-roll. We asked our coach, ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy, for his prescription for Linsanity. Here's our man's three-point plan.

L-DOPAVan Gundy says to trap Lin hard and early.

1. The Smother
The setup: As Lin [1] dribbles [A] and Amar'e Stoudemire [4] screens [B] to launch the pick-and-roll, Stoudemire's defender jumps out to trap Lin [C].

"I would trap Lin hard and trap him early," says Van Gundy, whose 2000-01 Knicks led the league in points allowed. Lin's ability to extend his dribble is unique, but he's also turnover-prone. Trapping him high on the pick-and-roll keeps him from his comfort zone in the open court. According to Synergy Sports, Lin's turnover rate in the pick-and-roll soars, from 5 percent when single-covered to 22 percent when the D sends help. "He won't fall apart in a hard trap," Van Gundy says, "but when a guy's on a roll, you can't let him play with the ball."