The Brooklyn Nets are expected to be one of the weaker teams in the NBA this season. Jeremy Lin will has been given the keys to the offense, finally presented with a starting point guard position and main playmaker role right off the bat. That’s not just a game changer in his career, but for the Nets as well.
The funny thing about Lin is that whenever he’s started, he’s played well, and his teams won games. But a lot of fans haven’t really followed him past the Knicks circa 2012 days, so they see his averages, his games started compared to his bench starts, and think he’s nothing more than a sixth man. They don’t know how much better he is defensively, how important he was to the Hornets last season and especially in the playoffs (the same can be said for the Rockets in 2014). Sometimes, watching games superficially isn’t enough.
That’s where charts come in, proving a point or two, about how much better and more useful Lin is as a starting player, with his shooting greatly affected, in the right kind of way. Credit to G (monkeyes2 on Twitter) who did the research, made the charts, and is the person behind this article.
This chart clearly shows how much better Lin’s shooting was last season when he was starting for the Hornets, compared to his numbers coming off the bench:
For those who have watched Lin last season and throughout his career, these numbers aren’t surprising. Lin needs to feel that the coach trusts him, and he needs rhythm. Some players don’t mind getting yanked out of the game inexplicably and their minutes shuffled around. Others need to know when they’re going to play, and some of them just enter the game better when they’re on the floor from the get go. The same can be said for others, who flourish when they enter the game “cold” off the bench.
And it’s not a one-year thing. Lin has always shot well when he was in the lineup, except for the Los Angeles Lakers season, which was wrong in every possible way. Remember, Lin didn’t choose to go there.
Lin is a much better 3-point shooter now than he was before. While the 46% is impressive, it is a relatively small sample size. Lin isn’t Kyle Korver or Stephen Curry, but he’s a dangerous shooter, and actually a very good one with a hand in his face as well. It all comes from feeling “hot”. When Lin gets going, it’s extremely difficult to slow him down. It’s not just the groove he gets into that everyone around him feeds off. He makes a wide variety of difficult shots, and it’s not something that happens out of the blue. Lin getting consistent starter minutes often results with plenty of big nights.
Obviously, these stats need something to compare to. Like, how about the shooting stats of point guards across the league?
No real need to explain here. Lin has always shot above the league percentage at his position when he started games, except for his 3-point shooting during his first season in Houston. But Lin isn’t the same player he was back then, and the situation he’s in is completely different too.
And the last chart, something of a revelation to me: Jeremy Lin’s shooting numbers based on the numbers of minutes he played in each game.
I don’t think Lin gets 40+ minutes a night this season on average, but there will be nights in which he’ll be required to carry that kind of load. Despite the usual outdated perception of him being weak, Lin does better when he gets less rest, at least on a specific night.
Conclusion? While the Nets remain a popular pick to be the worst team in the East, a lot of the predictions come from a place of disregarding Lin as a quality point guard starter. His entire career proves that when given the opportunity to start as a point guard and play big minutes while also getting his fair share of the ball, results in excellent numbers. Not just because he’s more on the floor, but simply because Lin finds it easier to hit shots when he isn’t yo-yoed on and off the court.
This doesn’t mean the Nets will make the playoffs. Maybe they won’t come close. But for those who’ll be surprised when Lin (if might be the more correct definition) posts big numbers and proves he’s not a bad shooter at all, remember it’s all been there before, only Lin never got the right kind of opportunity to show it on a regular, full-season kind of basis.