The X-Factor

By Keith Schlosser

With a strong defensive presence in Tyson Chandler joining forces with offensive juggernauts Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo this season, the Knicks’ front court appears to be as balanced ever.

A trio of that stature and explosiveness stands to compete with the best in the NBA. And they certainly provide a strong enough looking foundation to build upon and climb all the way to the top.

However, with a third of the NBA season already in the books, and the Knicks just 9-15, it is clear the team needs something more. Though Stoudemire, Anthony, and Chandler all possess an array of great talents, sometimes a team’s stars simply cannot do it all. As they look to get back into the playoff hunt, where will that extra spark come from? Who will be the team’s X-Factor?

Through his stand out performance during the Knicks’ 99-92 victory over the Nets Saturday, Jeremy Lin showed all of New York City what his team really needs: a true point guard.

It wasn’t simply Lin’s 25 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds, and two steals that ignited the Garden crowd on Saturday, but rather the fashion in which they were achieved. The Harvard graduate attacked the basket, penetrating the Nets’ defense over and over as he converted on layups and/or made it to the free throw line with ease.

What’s more, his dishes came in the form of some sweet passes to the likes of Stoudemire and Chandler. STAT found his rhythm on offense by being set up by Lin for easy jump shots, and Chandler powered home a healthy helping of alley-oops throughout the victory.

Such aggression when driving through the lane is what the Madison Square Garden crowd had been waiting for. Lin found success exploiting the defense, and furthermore, elevated the games of many of his teammates.

The Knicks certainly have a lot of offensive firepower, but what they need to perfect a winning recipe is an efficient floor general. With Baron Davis still recovering from an injury, this may be the opportune time for the Knicks to give Lin a more serious test drive.

In the week ahead, the Knicks will face four teams with solid point guards, including a one-time all-star (Devin Harris & the Jazz) the reigning “Rookie of the Year,” (John Wall & the Wizards) an NBA champion, (Derek Fisher & the Lakers) and an international phenomenon (Ricky Rubio & the Timberwolves). The talent level is high, but Lin proved he is up for the challenge as he helped contain the Nets’ Deron Williams.

With a steady foundation on a roster poised for success, the Knicks still crave that extra spark, somebody to provide that much needed boost. Only time will tell if Jeremy Lin can ride his momentum enough to prove himself the team’s X-Factor.

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