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This year for Brooklyn Nets starting point guard and Harvard alum Jeremy Lin has been filled with setbacks and challenges, both individually and team-wise. Having embraced his new role as a veteran leader on a rebuilding team, Lin understood he would face a drastic change in expectations from last season, when he was the sixth man on a playoff-contending Charlotte Hornets. However, two hamstring injuries throughout the year has forced Lin to miss much of the season, playing in only 16 out of 60 games so far.
In a Facebook post on December 19, Lin stated, “ Not gonna lie this season has been very painful physically/mentally/emotionally, not being able to battle with my crew night in night out.... I'm working extremely hard to get right again...thanks again for the love!”
With Lin out, the Nets were forced to depend on former D-League player Spencer Dinwiddie and rookie Isaiah Whitehead to handle point guard duties, but a noticeable lack of chemistry with franchise centerpiece Brook Lopez and prospects like Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Caris LeVert have left the Nets with a 10-49 record as of March 3, the league’s worst. Unlike most rebuilding teams, the Nets also do not own their lottery draft pick in this year’s upcoming draft (as well as next year’s first-round pick), due to the Kevin Garnett-Paul Pierce trade in 2013.
Facing these circumstances, Lin and the Nets have nevertheless maintained an upbeat mentality throughout much of the season, focusing on player development and building team chemistry. Lin’s teammate Brook Lopez stated that this season feels completely different from his 2009-2010 season, when the Nets finished with a league-worst 12-70 record.
“This has been a completely different mindset and attitude.” Lopez said, “ I think we’re happy that guys aren’t quitting. You can definitely see there’s no quit in us.”
Individually, Lin has played consistently in his few games on the floor, averaging 13.3 points per game and 5.5 assists per game. These numbers have been fairly impressive given he has been put on minutes restrictions for a majority of the 15 games he has played. Off the court, Lin has been an important mentor for the Net’s young core, seen consistently giving out advice to rookies Whitehead and LeVert during games.
For the final post-All Star break stretch, Lin hopes to stay healthy and bring important leadership to a team in need of a sense of direction. Given a lack of games played together with Lopez, Lin is also looking to find a consistent pick-and-roll game with the offensive-minded center.
“It’s nice having Jeremy out there,” head coach Kenny Atkinson said, “Instead of the ball going around haphazardly, he really directs it. I give him a lot of credit.”
The Nets, with little to play for in the final 20 games of the year, will depend on Jeremy Lin to build confidence heading into next season. Through a larger sample size, we may also finally see how Lin fits into Atkinson’s system and the adjustments Lin will make as the starting point guard. So long as Lin’s hamstring issues do not re-emerge, Nets fans should be excited to see why Lin was signed to a 3 year, 36-million dollar deal in the offseason and why he deserves to be the point guard in the near future for the rebuilding Nets.
“I’m realistic enough to understand that we haven’t had a fair look at what this team is really going to look like,” Lin said. “When I come back, I want to be able to help this team and be what they envision me to be. I think post-All-Star break is enough games to see that.”
Jeremy Lin’s fresh start with the Nets may not have taken the most ideal starting path, but it looks like he is right back on track heading into the end of the season.
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