In the latest chapter of The Knick Diss, Jeremy Lin tells Brian Lewis that while he may have been a defensive liability during Linsanity, he’s improved a lot ... if anyone cared to notice.
"These are knocks on my game that, when I was a younger player, I’d agree with,’’ Lin told The Post. "I’ve improved, it just hasn’t been highlighted.’’
The controversy over Lin’s defense is rooted in the Knicks supposed feeling that his defense was "too gaping" and thus, they weren’t interested in pursuing him this summer ... at least according to team sources. Put aside what a terrible mix it would have been — and whether Lin would be interested in reunited with Carmelo Anthony and James Dolan.
The Knicks complaint got roasted by pundits like Mike Moore of CBS Sports, Robin Lundberg of ESPN and Kurt Helin of NBC Sports. As Lundberg noted, "Lin would have been best defensive guard on Knicks by a mile."
Indeed as Lewis points out, "Lin ranked 20th among point guards in ESPN’s Defensive Real Plus-Minus last season, better than the Knicks’ Jose Calderon and Jerian Grant or Nets predecessor Jarrett Jack." (Jack finished 40th among qualifying point guards.)
More importantly, Lin’s coach in Charlotte, the defensive-minded Steve Clifford said Lin would be missed because of his defensive versatility, being able to guard both point guards and shooters. "He’s a much, much better defender than people realize," Clifford said. "He competes hard every night, and he’s a very serious player."
Lin’s new coach pointed out what Clifford said in the Nets press conference Tuesday.
"I love the Steve Clifford quote from the other day. We need to keep him on this path," Kenny Atkinson said. "He can be a darn good defender with his athleticism, his competitiveness. He feels a little slighted that he’s not considered a better defender."
One of Lin’s teammates thinks he can learn from the man who created Linsanity.
"Jeremy shows me things in practice, and just about using screen-and-rolls. When I’m guarding him, there’s certain things he does, I just try to pick up on that,’’ Whitehead told The Post. "It’s just his overall game. He’s a great player in the league, and I’m going to try to pick his brain."