Jeremy Lin's Next Challenge

Lin has to mesh with Anthony as much as Anthony has to mesh with Lin

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Ever since Jeremy Lin came onto the scene, there's been one question asked over and over again about the future of the Knicks.

    Can Carmelo Anthony adjust his game to work with Lin?

    We've heard all manner of answers to that query, but none of them have included the response that a psychiatrist might give if asked that question.

    Can Lin adjust his game to work with Anthony and the rest of the Knicks?

    It's a bit surprising that there's been so much focus paid to the Anthony side of the relationship while so little time has been spent on the role that Lin plays in the Knicks' offense. After all, it's usually the job of the point guard to make sure that the ball is getting into the hands of the right people at the right time so that the offense can thrive.

    Anthony was miscast as the sole creator of the offense during the early part of the season, which has led some to simply forget how ruthlessly effective he has been as a scorer throughout his career. The issue all year has been getting him the ball in positions where he can take advantage of that ability -- something Hardwood Paroxysm illustrated to good effect recently -- and that falls on Lin as much, if not more, than it falls on Anthony.

    As much of a godsend as Lin's arrival to the lineup has been to the team, the Knicks need to use Melo better or there's little chance that they'll avoid the first-round matchup with the Heat or Bulls that seems to spell a quick end to their playoff run. And that's just the start of it.

    When Lin was becoming a cultural phenomenon this month, he was charged with carrying the scoring load for the team because there weren't too many other options when it came to getting buckets for the Knicks. He got plenty of assists, to be sure, but they were coming off of defenses throwing themselves at stopping him from scoring.

    The Knicks are healthy and deeper than at any other point in the Mike D'Antoni era, things that Lin has to take advantage of to make them as successful a team as possible. He struggled with that in Miami last week, although credit must be given to just how good the Heat are at stopping everyone from doing what they want, and he'll need to be better as teams follow that blueprint in the weeks to come.

    Anthony hasn't done much of anything to support the notion that he'll stagnate the offense now that he isn't the only person capable of creating it. The pressure on him certainly remains -- no one is better poised to take on the A-Rod role in New York sports media than Melo -- but that shouldn't obscure the need for Lin (and D'Antoni) to do his part to make this whole thing work.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.