Lin Ting-Chien's superb debut is Asia Cup's own Linsanity
MANGILAO (Guam) - Asia Cup fans knew that Lin Ting-Chien would be a good player for the senior national team at some point in his career. Few, however, expected that he would be this good, this early. This is Asia Cup's Lin-saninty.
No one doubts Lin's ability to score. The 21-year-old has been stacking up points in bunches everywhere he plays.
"… great offensive player. He's a young guy that knows how to put the ball in the basket."- Charlie Parker, Chinese Taipei head coach
In his first time representing Chinese Taipei in a FIBA event at the U16 Asian Championship 2015, Lin averaged 21.9 points per game which was good enough for fourth among all players in the competition.
Lin scored over 20 points in all of his first four games, highlighted by a monster 33-point game in just his third outing.
It was the same story a year later at the U17 World Cup 2016 when he dropped 30 points on both Egypt and Bosnia & Herzegovina and another 29 points on Argentina.
When the dust settled, Lin was up at the top again where his 21.3 points per game scoring averaged ranked third among all players in Zaragoza that year.
When he was named to the All-Rookie Team of the Northeast Conference (NEC) in the NCAA while he was playing for the Bryant University Bulldogs or in his rookie season playing for the Tianjin Pioneers in the CBA, it was clear that Lin could just flat out score.
So when Lin dropped 48 points in his first two games with the senior national team, maybe it shouldn't have been that surprising. Whether it was expected or not, it was definitely entertaining to watch as Lin found his way time and again against Guam to put points on the board.
"… great offensive player. He's a young guy that knows how to put the ball in the basket."
That's what Chinese Taipei head coach Charlie Parker said of Lin, the youngest player on the squad in the recent FIBA Asia Cup 2021 Qualifying Tournament for third ranked teams.
When coach Parker says Lin "knows how to out the ball in the basket", he means it.
One way that Lin has been compiling his points is by leaking out early in transition for easy layups. He has good instincts on defense that either allows him to pounce passing lanes (5 steals in the first game against Guam) or get a head start when his teammates get the steal. This is how he scored his first two points for the senior national team and accumulated for 10 of his total points over these past two games.
Lin gets himself into open court situations with his exceptional speed as he is light on his feet. His quick bursts towards the basket usually allows him to get an easy angle to lay the ball in with ease, but that isn't always the case. Especially later in the game when the pace slows down, Lin's defenders can adjust and find a way to catch up.
When that happens, he finds a way to adapt.
Lin has a relatively smaller frame and isn't the stronger player on the court, so when he doesn't have his usual clear path to the basket, Lin instead uses his flexibility and touch to put the ball in at awkward angles.
Go check out his acrobatic layup just before the end of the first half in the first game against Guam.
Still, Lin isn't a big sized player. He can be effective attacking the basket at times, but that's only because the defenders have to spend so much time respecting his long-range shooting.
Lin took only nine threes in these two games, which isn't a lot considering how much the ball is in his hands. Of those attempts, he converted more than half for a total of five three-pointers in total. It was a mixture of creating threes off the dribble, waiting for the catch-and-shoot, or just running in between screens to get open.
It's a small sample size, but the fact that Lin can shoot at 55.6 percent from downtown over a two-game span will always keep defenders on their toes.
Ultimately, Lin's bread and butter so far has been his midrange game.
Lin has a soft touch with his jumper as there is fluidity in his shooting motion directly from the gather. His shooting efficiency is evident in his three-point conversion rate as well as his free-throw shooting where he is 70 percent from the line. Once he's able to create some space and get comfortable enough for a midrange shot, there's a good chance it will go in.
And creating space is another area of the game in which Lin excels at as well. The shifty guard has nimble footwork that can throw off defenders whether it’s attacking face-to-face from the perimeter or even when he gets the opportunity for a quick post up against smaller defenders. With a mix of hesitation moves, spin moves, and step-back moves in his bag, Lin is already looking like one tough player to cover.
That excellence in creating space and midrange shooting was all on display in the final moments of the final aggregate game.
With 25 seconds to go and the aggregate score all tied up, it was Lin who had control of the ball. Despite being the youngest player on the team with only one game of experience playing with the senior national team on his belt, his teammates spread the floor out for their young star to facilitate.
With a quick crossover to the left, Lin put Takumi Simon half a step behind him heading into the paint. With a slight half step-back move, Lin now had the space he needed with his defender's momentum going in the wrong direction.
He lined up for the jumper and it rattled in for his 24th and 25th points of the game, giving the lead to Chinese Taipei for good.
The interesting part (and fun part for Chinese Taipei fans) is that this is just the beginning.
Not to be too repetitive but, once again, this is just Lin Ting-Chien's first two games playing at the senior national team level. At just 21-years-old and being the youngest player on a team with a star like Chen Ying-Chun, Lin was able to stand out as a star scorer who stepped up in the clutch to clinch Asia Cup qualification for his team.
It's only logical to imagine that Lin can only get better from here, especially when he gets to play at the next stage in the Asia Cup next year. Until then, Asia Cup and Chinese Taipei fans will just have to wait to see him back in action.