As a prologue to the Brooklyn Nets playing their first home game of the season (facing the Indiana Pacers), we’ll mention that the offense needs Jeremy Lin to run it, not just be part of it.
One game right? It means nothing right? The preseason meant nothing too. But the Nets have problems. In my opinion their inability to defend the rim is the biggest issue which generates a host of other issues, but it’s impossible to ignore that right now, Kenny Atkinson is trying out an offense that takes the ball out of his best player, instead of giving him as much opportunities to make decisions. Lin is also the team’s best decision maker and playmaker and passer. He can’t just be someone who brings the ball up to the opponent’s half to set off the motion offense.
Numbers aside (18 points, 3 assists, 2-for-5 from three), Lin didn’t have the best of games. He just wasn’t involved enough, and unless there was some knee injury we aren’t completely aware of, it did seem that Atkinson had some weird timing by pulling Lin out of the game on one or two occasions. I’m not saying he should have disturbed the guys making the comeback, they earned their chance to try and win it for the Nets after bringing them back from oblivion, but it didn’t feel like Lin has the freedom to do everything he knows.
Personally, I think Atkinson knows he has an issue with other players besides Lin, like we saw in the preseason: The team often falls apart without him offensively. I think he’s trying to figure out who besides him can be a facilitator, and not just finish (and a lot of poor finishing ruined Lin’s assists column). At some point, he’ll tweak his offense to keep his motion basics, but with a lot more Lin being involved. Mixing it up is a must, especially considering how Brook Lopez is being used, or not used.
Justin Hamilton and Brook Lopez are two very different players, and not taking advantage of Lopez’ ability in the post, which is both another offensive weapon on a team that is lacking in that department, and in a way to pull some defensive attention from Lin and Bojan Bogdanovic among others, is a complete waste. If Atkinson doesn’t believe he has anything to do with Lopez on the floor, just push for Sean Marks to trade him. I believe Atkinson and Marks are on the same page, so it’s weird that they’re trying to completely change Lopez into something he simply can’t be.
As for the defense, it’s going to be a constant achilles heel. The Nets best bet is enforcing the perimeter. That, and waiting for some injured players to come back. They don’t have someone who is a classic rim stopper, but teams can get around that. And now that we’ve poured out the doom and gloom, we’ll look forward to a better performance (although against a difficult opponent), from Lin individually and from the Nets in general on both ends of the floor.