Ok, so you forgot to take your talents to South Beach last night, and therefore the Knicks never really stood a chance in the game, but let’s keep things in perspective, shall we? This was merely one of eleven career starts for you — ironically, you were just 1-for-11 against Miami — so there are no grand conclusions to be drawn from your inability to perform against the best defense in the NBA.
And your eight turnovers, while certainly painful to watch, were not necessarily indicative of some fatal flaw in your game. Look, I know you’ve been a tad busy of late, what with all the apartment hunting and all, but you’ve no doubt read my piece comparing you favorably to Jason Kidd (WHAT WENT RIGHT section), and just yesterday, ESPN’s John Hollinger echoed similar sentiments, too. In short, we both think that your turnovers, though unacceptably high, are far more attributable to the fact that you have been relied upon in doses that are grossly disproportionate to your contemporaries.
So what are we left with?
Well, if you were on Twitter today — and wait a second, you’re not even following me! — you might have missed more than a few vitriolic debates on whether you should be considered a “star” or not. Ultimately, what is a star, anyway? How can we define such a subjective label? Stars shine brightly, do they not?
Admittedly, I’m not a smart man, but if going undrafted, being cut from two other teams, enduring multiple trips to the D-League and being hours away from being put on waivers to seizing the starting point guard job for one of the league’s flagship franchises, producing the highest-ever scoring output in the history of the NBA over one’s first four starts, being featured on consecutive covers of Sports Illustrated, and singlehandedly resurrecting a listless team going nowhere doesn’t equate to brightness, then I don’t know what does.
Oh, Jeremy, you’re not alone in stubbing your early-career toe, either. There have been scores of players, many of whom are point guards, who have thrown up a stinker or two on the road to “stardom.”
Don’t just take my word for it, either; consider what Dan had to say over at KnicksFanBlog.net:
I ran a search using Basketball-Reference‘s Game Finder tool to find games played by players aged 18-22, as starters, in which the player compiled at least 5 turnovers and shot less than 25% from the field:
- In his 42nd career start, Dwayne Wade shot 0/7 and had 5 turnovers.
- In his 37th career start, Ray Allen shot 1/9 and had 5 turnovers.
- In his 17th career start, Allen Iverson shot 2/17 and had 6 turnovers.
- In his 44th career start, Mark Jackson shot 2/13 and had 7 turnovers.
- In his 60th career start, Brandon Jennings shot 2/12 and had 6 turnovers.
- In his 3rd career start, Chauncey Billups shot 1/5 and had 7 turnovers.
- In his 24th career start, Jason Kidd shot 2/10 and had 6 turnovers.
That’s some pretty elite company, Brah, don’t you think?
Look, I am not going to lie to you. We go back too far for me to do that. Remember that one time in the locker room right before all this craziness started when I asked you why you took another DNP and you just shook your head and smiled? Good times. And it isn’t like you don’t already know — heck, your honesty and self-awareness at age 23 are remarkable — but you have a few warts on your game. You need to work on going to your left, or opposing defenses will continue taking away what you like to do. You need help from your coach, especially regarding designed-plays that can defeat the kind of full-court pressure-defense Mario Chalmers flummoxed you with last night, a blueprint you can damn-well expect other teams to follow after the All-Star break. You also need to better understand when and when not to penetrate, and more importantly, where your teammates — especially ‘Melo — are when you deem it advisable to drive.
That being said, your vision, craftiness and saaviness cannot be taught. They are gifts, and you don’t need me to tell you how precious this opportunity is that you’ve been given. In truth, no one else on the planet can identify with what you’re experiencing right now, and that is precisely why you need not pay attention to today’s criticisms or tomorrow’s doubts. Rest assured, they’re coming — after all, this is New York City, and the one thing we do best is make sure our opinions are heard — but you’ve already proven yourself capable. You’ve already shown yourself to be humble, hard-working and unflappable.
So keep your head down. Do your best to block out the noise and avoid the inevitable off-court distractions. Continue honing your craft and let us worry about your to-be-expected mistakes along the way.