It’s hard to think of Jeremy Lin as an old, experienced veteran, but it all depends on the situation. With the Brooklyn Nets, he’s on the older half of the roster, and part of his role next season isn’t just going to be pushing the Nets on the court with his fast-paced style and aggressiveness, but also being a leader to a young, untested group.
Lin isn’t the only veteran on this roster. Luis Scola and Randy Foye, both added in free agency, will be the 30+ guys on the roster. Scola will try to give the Nets some decent minutes (15-to-20 a night?) like he did with the Raptors, including his newly found 3-point shooting accuracy (hit 40.4% on 2.1 attempts a night last season, after basically avoiding them all year) while not sucking on defense. Foye will backup both guard positions, will give some defense, and maybe a little bit of his knack to come up with big plays in the clutch, while hoping his 3-point shooting picks up, making only 30% of his outside shots last season, playing on the Nuggets and the Thunder.
But both these players aren’t going to play meaningful roles. While veteran leadership in the locker room is always good to have (and I’m guessing that’s part of the reason Sean Marks signed the two of them), leadership really manifests, or fails to deliver, with the players who spend most of the time on the floor. It’s not exactly clear what the regular lineup for the Nets will be during the regular season, but Jeremy Lin and Brook Lopez will be there.
And this is also something semi-new to Lin, at least in a full time capacity. Locked as the starting point guard. Locked as the main ball handler and decision maker on offense. And also expected to lead this group, help mold it into something that becomes a winning entity, hopefully even this year, although don’t get your hopes up on too much success from the Nets in 2016-2017. It’ll be more about figuring out who is good enough to last down the long and winding road to success.
Lin never had a problem being thrown into a bigger role and leading players, young and old alike. He welcomed it, every time, and was disappointed it didn’t happen more. It happened when he played for the New York Knicks in 2012, thrown onto the court from the edge of the bench to deliver a wild ride and gave Knicks fans their most fun moments in a very long time, which still haven’t been surpassed. It happened when playing for the Rockets in the small moments James Harden wasn’t playing, or was willing to let go. It happened on the Hornets each time they turned to him. Had they done it more often, especially in the playoffs, the postseason would have lasted a little bit longer.
This will be different. Even if the Nets don’t get the kind of attention the Knicks do in the New York press, it’s still New York, and Lin will be in the spotlight every night, and not just for two months of the season, or once every few games. But from smaller sample sizes, that kind of pressure and attention has never bothered him. The only things that do are often being yo-yoed by coaches and not given confidence from the coaching staff. On an individual level, if he knows where he stands and knows what his job is instead of guessing each night, he’ll be fine. From what his history in the league tells us, the better he does, the better his teams do as well.