Two weeks into Jeremy Lin‘s Mach-speed rise to fame, more intel comes out daily about his crazier-than-fiction journey. Specifically, just how fine a line he walked from being another nobody to the most popular guy from New York City to Palo Alto, Calif.
Case in point: Reports have shown the Knicks were considering cutting the point guard soon after their game with New Jersey on Feb. 4. He needed the chance to play and got it against the Nets, which led to 25 points and seven assists, which led to the chance to score 28 against the Jazz three days later, which led to world domination (or something close to it) now.
What the following five have in common with Lin isn’t that last part, at least yet. But like Lin, and San Antonio’s Gary Neal and Atlanta’s Jeff Teague recently before him, they’re the top five players who could be pleasant surprises if given a shot in the NBA. Call them the All-Give-Em-A-Chance team. Will they get as big as Lin? Hey, crazier things have happened.
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Sean Williams, Dallas
After he averaged more than 17 minutes per game in New Jersey as a rookie, Williams has gone into witness protection as a Maverick, getting no more than 5.7 minutes per game. But when he’s in, his efficiency’s no lie. Averaged out for 36 minutes, the 6-10 forward would average 29.6 points and 12.7 boards at his current clip. Don’t question his intensity, either, after puking on the sideline on Dec. 27 against Denver. To do that he’d just scored 12 points in 11 minutes, plus a couple blocks, knowing his time was limited. Just like Kobe with a jumper, Williams doesn’t need much space to work if given just 10 minutes a game. It’s also time, for Rick Carlisle, to give him a little more.
Jeremy Evans, Utah
Already today Dime‘s told you Evans is a special player in the making, and we’re still not going to argue that point. In his second year, he’s one of the most special players once he’s in the air with his body control, creativity and filthiness. It’s hard to quantify those three, so think on this instead: 80 percent from the field in his 5.6 minutes per. That’s right, with 12 of 15 field goals this season, Evans’ sample size isn’t any larger than the typical number Kobe could put up in a quarter, but he simply puts the ball in against (and usually in the face of) his defender.
Elliot Williams, Portland
His 17 points in 18 minutes against San Antonio, which included this hammer of a dunk over Danny Green, was basically a rookie vs. sophomore game between the Spurs and Blazers. Matched up against his peers, Williams shows why he needs more PT for Nate McMillan. He’s only getting 5.6 minutes per, but if he played 36 minutes, he’d average 21.9. The crazy athleticism (he recorded a 48-inch vertical during a pre-draft camp for Portland in 2010, people) that turned heads in training camp in December also opens up his quick-burst scoring that’s improved with his jumper.
Jordan Hamilton, Denver
The rookie from Texas gets just 6.1 minutes a game, but if George Karl were to play him 36, he’d be one of the league’s youngest double-double men. Averaged for 36 minutes, Hamilton would drop 20.6 and 10 rebounds to go with his 46 percent shooting from the floor. And it’s not just what he does with the ball. It’s that he holds onto the rock, averaging just 1.3 turnovers in that time, as well. Hamilton’s shoe game (as seen below in DimeTV) is well known, but isn’t it time he got a chance to let his game be seen, too?
Renaldo Balkman, no one (yet)
We couldn’t let this be all young guys, of course. The Knicks’ roster casualty in the J.R. Smith signing, after speaking with us last week on the Knicks’ chances, Balkman is now looking around for a new home after getting 8.4 minutes in the Big Apple. In the job search, he’d be wise to advertise his 14.33 Player Efficiency Rating. That’s higher than the 13.7 league average and those of Caron Butler and Wesley Matthews (while being nearly identical to Jrue Holiday). Shooting 50 percent this season, he’d average 13.6 points per 36 minutes.
Who deserves a shot in the NBA?
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