Two games into the season, Jeremy Lin and the Atlanta Hawks have yet to taste victory, with Lin showing some encouraging signs but obviously looking, and perhaps deserving, more minutes on the floor.
In a 131-117 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, with the fourth quarter being one long stretch of garbage time, Lin logged 17 minutes, finishing with 9 points, 2 rebounds and 2 assists. Traeun Prince led the Hawks with 28 points, while rookie Trae Young finished with 20, including 4 three-pointers made.
Lin continued to drive to the hoop every opportunity he had, resulting in four free throw attempts (three made), and at least two more times when a foul should have been called in his favor but wasn’t. On defense, he’s shedding plenty of rust (especially off his legs) which makes it easier to keep up with players (his upper body has never been stronger in my opinion).
I don’t know if Llyod Pierce is instructing Lin to keep his shots inside the paint or it’s a decision by the 30-year old point guard, but for now he doesn’t seem to eager to test his stroke from deep. His pump fakes do get reactions from defenders, but maybe that’s because everyone expects everyone else to hoist up 3’s these days.
The Hawks are a team in the early stage of progress and process. Their offensive movement and positioning is far from smooth, and you can see players moving into the wrong spot, already occupied by someone else. It’s probably a matter of time before things look a bit more streamlined and effortless, but that can be said about half the league when we’re less than a week into the new season.
Should Lin start? Right now, with the bench lacking anyone who can make plays and find open players on the floor (like Lin’s second assist to Tyler Dorsey), it’s hard to see Lin grabbing Vince Carter’s spot next to Young in the lineup. Carter had a bad game, and at 41 his ability to have any sort of impact besides nostalgic is questionable. Young did finish with 9 assists himself.
We’ll know pretty soon how cautious Pierce is with Lin as they head into a back-to-back with against the Cavaliers. So far Lin has 31 total minutes this season, and from his prespective, he has to be hoping that this is Pierce taking it slow with him and not just planning a very limited role for him. After such a long time away from the game, no one is expecting 30-35 minutes a night, but it would be nice to see Lin getting close to these numbers, the sooner the better.