30 turnovers in his first 5 games as a starter. Not a very illustrious record to set if you're trying to make it in this league as a facilitator. A 1.74 assist to turnover ratio is not something you typically want to see from your point guard. And yet despite his seeming recklessness with the rock, there is no doubt that Lin has elevated the offensive play of his teammates immeasurably.
Yes, that is Jeremy Lin in 2nd for assist percentage behind the great Steve Nash, who is having a hell of a season. For those of you who don't know, assist percentage measures how many of his teammate's baskets a PG has assisted on. It tells you a bit more about the quality of play of a point guard than simple assists per game or assists per 36, as it is less dependent on the ability of surrounding talent, describing the player's role within the offense instead. Half of the time somebody besides Lin has put the ball in the basket, it was off of a pass from Jeremy. You may be wondering what the significance of a 48% assist percentage is. If Lin were to maintain that for an entire season it would rank 23rd all time, between two nobodies named John Stockton and Isiah Thomas (Nash's would be first all-time by a sliver). That's pretty beast. Lin's assist totals remain relatively low because the teammates he's been passing to have not exactly been dropping 40 every game, but you can tell from his assist percentage that they are kinda lost without him.
(In case you're wondering, the top 5 career leaders in AST%: Stockton: 50.2%, CP3 46.5%, DWill 42.4%, Nash 41.6%, Magic 40.9%. There's a little more to AST% besides being a good point guard, but it certainly friggin helps)
That's not the only note of interest however. See TOV%? That is the percentage of plays a player makes that result in a turnover. It's understandable that good PGs who have high AST% also have high TOV% - the more you facilitate, the more likely your passes are to be snatched up. John Stockton's career TOV% is 20.8. You should also consider this when you wonder why Chris Paul, Tony Parker, and Derrick Rose are comparatively low in AST% despite being tremendous point guards - they are masters of ball security and it is reflected in their low TOV%. Lin has not done much worse taking care of the ball than Deron Williams and he's actually been somewhat better at it than Nash, Rondo, and Rubio.
So why does he have so many turnovers? His usage rate is the highest of all the point guards on the list; in fact, he's 5th among all players, ahead of Kevin Durant, and just a bit behind Carmelo and Lebron. He's been relied upon to make plays for and carry this team almost all the time he's on the floor, and he's been on that floor a disproportionate amount of the time compared to his teammates. This naturally results in more turnovers. Factor in the fatigue involved with such high minutes and usage and the turnover situation can seem to get a little out of control. As a result, you end up with a stinky Assist:Turnover ratio despite good play. Now, that isn't to say that Lin couldn't be doing more to rein his TO's in, as he certainly plays aggressively and sometimes, recklessly. But he isn't as bad as simply looking at the number of turnovers would suggest. He's been pretty damn good. Hope he keeps it up. If he can, those Stockton and Nash comparisons might not be so ridiculous after all.
SMALL UPDATE: I just noticed something very interesting. If you look at Lin's AST% at Harvard, he had about a 30.8 AST% his junior and senior year. Not bad numbers, but not really that great either. If this makes you concerned that Lin won't be able to keep up his AST%, don't be. Know who else posted around a 30 AST% before he started for an NBA team? Steve Nash. His AST% remained low his first few years in Phoenix and Dallas. When he began starting for a full season his AST% improved quite a bit, but remained in the mid-to-high 30s. His AST% skyrocketed to an exceptional 49.2% his first season on D'Antoni's Suns.
Nash's AST% during his first two years with Phoenix and career with Dallas: 33%. Eh.
His AST% since he began running D'Antoni's system: 48.6%. Freaking incredible. Hm. 48% AST. I wonder where else I've seen that...