With the Brooklyn Nets first preseason game coming up (facing the Detroit Pistons), it’s time to start and think what we would like to see from this team as it works its way towards the regular season, and specifically where Jeremy Lin fits into all of this.
One word of caution: This is just the preseason, which means objects in the rearview mirror may look, well, different than they really are. The NBA preseason is very different compared to the NFL one. Key players play more minutes, there’s not that constant fear of injury hanging over one’s head. But defenses are often not as serious, it’s easier to get to the line, and in general, the whole exhibition feel of the game tends to play a serious part. There are things to learn from these games, but one should never take them too seriously.
Personally, I would like to see Lin with two different sets of lineups. Mainly, one with Brook Lopez, and one without. We know what we’re going to see with Lin next to Lopez: A lot of attacking the rim, pick and rolls, and overall trying to make this PG-C combination work. It’ll be interesting to see if the Nets go with a true power forward like Trevor Booker or maybe even Luis Scola, or try and make it more of a shooting lineup with Lopez in the middle, which probably means Chris McCullough at the ‘4’.
The other lineup I would like to see Lin in is a true small ball lineup, one without Lopez. Justin Hamilton can make 3’s, and maybe play Rondae Hollis-Jefferson at the ‘4’, although he needs to work on his 3-point shot a lot, and then have Sean Kilpatrick and Bojan Bogdanovic in that lineup as well, or maybe try Caris LeVert. The Nets, like every team in the NBA, needs more than one good lineup to rely on, and I’m not just talking about first team and second team. Lin is the key to this machine running smoothly and better than expectations. The Nets need to have him capable and confident in a number of forms and styles, because he’ll be playing a lot of minutes next season.
As for numbers, they don’t really matter at this point. Five assists, 12 assists; 5 points, 20 points. We need to see Lin generating chemistry with his teammates and shooters, and also prove to them he can get them open, and find them when they are. As for himself, there’s nothing wrong with getting his long range shot streaking early, if the opportunity presents itself.
Besides what he does with his teammates on offense, there’s the defense side of things, which might be the trickiest part to work on for the Nets. Individually, Lin doesn’t have a problem taking care of his own guy, especially if it’s Reggie Jackson, who he tormented a couple of times in Hornets uniform. Team-wise, it’ll be interesting to see how the switches work, and what kind of approach the Nets are going to take, knowing their rim protection could be much better.