The Brooklyn Nets have a problem for the next two weeks, maybe more: Their best player and pretty much only point guard, Jeremy Lin, has a hamstring strain, a tricky type of injury. Short term, the team is in a rough spot because they don’t really have natural point guards to fill up the spot.
The only healthy point guard at the moment is Isaiah Whitehead, who so far has a negative PER of -3.46. He is averaging 3.5 points and 2 assists, shooting just 35.3% from the field. But the biggest problem isn’t the numbers. The second round pick out of Seton Hall just seems like he’s not quite ready for even a backup role in the NBA, and could use some D-League time. The Nets would send him there, only they can’t, and Whitehead might suddenly find himself playing a lot more than he should.
Lin picked up the hamstring injury during the first half of the Nets 109-101 win over the Detroit Pistons. Lin was playing very well, scoring 10 points in 16 minutes while dishing out 4 assists. He was rolling, the Nets were rolling with Brook Lopez finally giving the kind of performance the Nets needed from him, and Sean Kilpatrick (we’ll get back to him soon enough) was scorching off the bench. Kilpatrick and Lin have a very good understanding, and from Kilpatrick’s social media accounts, it seems like Lin has taken him under his wing to some extent. The two can be quite the backcourt duo, but that development has been put on hold until Lin returns from his injury.
Back to the point guard issue. The Nets have a game against the Charlotte Hornets, at home. This would have been quite the special game for Lin, playing against his former team from last season. A team Lin enjoyed playing for, but also didn’t get a good enough offer from, after he helped them make the playoffs and almost upset the Miami Heat in the first round. Will the Nets head into this game with just Whitehead to run the point? Probably not.
Randy Foye, listed as questionable, might get to play. That’s not the option Kenny Atkinson is dreaming of, but Foye, an experienced guard, doesn’t look like the whole ‘playing in the NBA’ thing is overwhelming him like Whitehead seems. Greivis Vasquez would have been a good option, but he has an ankle injury, and it seems like it’s going to be a while before he comes back. Lin will miss at least six games, and it looks like the Nets are going to need some creativity from the coaching staff to not get blown out each night in that run.
One interesting option, and maybe the only one left besides rotating Whitehead and Foye is using Kilpatrick as the point guard, or at least the ball handler. While Kilpatrick hasn’t shown anything exceptional when it comes to passing and court vision, it’s guaranteed he’s better at this than Whitehead. And maybe Yogi Ferrell gets called up (which would mean the Nets cut someone to open up a spot) after the Nets waived him. He actually did a better job than Whitehead in my opinion during the preseason.
The original headline was something along the lines of ‘Jeremy Lin is injured, the Brooklyn Nets are f*****’, but I prefered something that wasn’t censored. Call it what you want, the Nets are in trouble. The Nets are better by 10.8 points per 100 possessions with Lin compared to his time off the floor. Now, this team wasn’t planning on joining any playoff races or something like that, so the outcome of this season may not have changed, but the centerpiece of this team growing together was Lin running the ship. Now, it’s just two weeks, maybe more, of finding out whether this group (so far failing to do so) can manage to look respectable, maybe even win a game or two, without their best player.