Boy, what a difference a year makes! A year and a half ago, I could not imagine Lin would be given the keys to the offense, even though he has deserved it. A year and a half ago, Lin’s prospects seemed dismal. Well, Lin has managed to repair his reputation significantly and now the general consensus among Nets fans and analysts, as well as the Nets organization, is that he and Brook Lopez are the face of the franchise. And, unlike when Lin joined the Rockets in 2012, Lin has embraced his role as the face of the franchise.
I’m not sure if many will recall, but when Lin joined the Rockets (and before Harden came on board), the Rockets media did make a big deal out of him, but Lin felt self-conscious about being seen as the face of the franchise. I wrote several articles about this. As a result of being self-conscious, Lin seemed to downplay himself and he seemed not to want to shine in practice, because he didn’t want to be seen as hogging the spotlight. Because Lin didn’t want to shine during practice, he didn’t really showcase what he could do and, as a result, his teammates didn’t really understand what the big deal was about him. So they weren’t quite ready to embrace him as their leader. Of course, once Harden joined, it all of this didn’t matter.
Even though Lin didn’t need to go through all the bullshit he has gone through since Linsanity to continue to improve his game, he did make the most of those challenging experiences. Jeremy Lin today is a significantly more polished and versatile player than he was during Linsanity and he is embracing his role as a team leader. He’s also been embraced by his teammates as their leader and mentor. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, in particular, has heaped all sorts of praise on Lin for Lin’s mentorship. Lin has also taken Whitehead under his wing as Whitehead continues his transition to the PG role.
Ever since I saw Atkonson’s press conference when he joined the Nets, I’ve been obsessed about Jeremy Lin joining the Nets. I saw it as Lin’s destiny. And ever since Lin signed with the Nets, my very high expectations of what it could mean for Lin joining the Brook-Lin nets has been exceeded so far. I know we have to wait to watch the games, but so far:
- Lin has been given the keys to the offense
- The Nets appear to be buying into the concept of team-ball and I think they have the right players to impliment team-ball
- Lin has a bunch of high-character, high IQ teammates with high potential for great team chemistry
- Lin has been embraced as a leader by his teammates, coaches and the Nets organization
- The New York media has been overwhelmingly positive about Lin
- Nets fans have overwhelmingly embraced Lin
So even though preseason hasn’t started, yet, as a Lin fan this is new territory for us. Because of what we have been through, I get that it’s prudent to be cautiously optimistic. But I think we need to also resist our natural inclination to find every little fault. I encourage Lin fans to give things time and not rush to judgement when we don’t see something we don’t like. I’m sure there will be times when Atkinson doesn’t play Lin exactly the way I want him to, but I trust that Lin and Atkinson have a close enough relationship for them to figure out what’s best for both Lin and the team. For example, one of my concerns from watching scrimmage clips is that I didn’t see any pick-and-roll for Lin. But I’m willing to just sit back and just enjoy and not complain about every little thing I don’t agree with. This is because I know Lin has the power to change things the way he wants to in his current situation and if Lin doesn’t then that’s probably because he doesn’t want to for whatever reason.
I anticipate I won’t be writing very much this season, because when things are good, I don’t have as much to write about. Normally, when I write, it’s because I want to vent or I want to point out something that I think needs to change. When things are good, I tend to be less vocal, because I’m just sitting back and enjoying the ride. After some very frustrating years, I think we Lin fans deserve a break.
It’s hard for me to say how many games the Nets will win. I definitely think it will be more than 30 and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if they end up wining 45+ and make it into the playoffs. So I have a huge range of expectations for the Nets.
Contrary to what even a lot of Lin fans may think, I do think Lin can carry a team (he proved this during Linsanity and every chance he has gotten to start and run the offense), because he’s the unique star that can make his teammates better. There aren’t that many stars who can do this. I actually think this Nets team with one other star in Brook Lopez, solid veterans and young players with potential is a pretty ideal makeup for Lin and the Nets. It actually might backfire if the Nets added a third star, because Lin is much better in the leadership role. I’m always reminded of what Lin’s college coach said. That his biggest concern for Lin in the NBA is that Lin needs to be the leader to succeed and he doesn’t think the NBA will let Lin lead a team. So I think the Nets may actually be better off with just Brook and Lin as the two stars on the team, because that way they are more likely to play team ball and win games. If they added a third star, that third star would need to be committed to team ball, as well, and those types of stars aren’t as easy to find.
On top of that, Lin’s energy is contagious. Remember Linsanity?! The entire team was basically celebrating every point and they all had joy for the game. It was like they were in color and their opponent was in black-and-white. Well, as long as the Nets don’t end up being as awful as all the “experts” predict, I think they will show the same level of joy that we saw during Linsanity. Even though it’s hard to predict how the Nets would do as a team, I’m confident that Lin will average 20+ points and 8 assists and shoot 40% from long-range.
My only concern this season is that Lin and the team remain healthy for the entire season. As long as they are all healthy and playing team ball on both sides of the floor, I think they have a shot. Last year, Lin mentioned that the Hornets reminded him of playing on his high school team. Well, I think if the Nets manage to win and make it to the playoffs or come close, then this Nets team will remind Lin of his high school days even more, because this time, Lin is the leader of the team like he was in high school. In an interview with Brook Lopez, he recounted a story of when he first saw Lin back in high school. Apparently, Lin was a big name in high school basketball, so Brook felt a little shy when he spotted Lin at a fast food restaurant. Now they are teammates. Yet, another sign that Lin was destined to join the Brook-Lin Nets. Lin is finally where he belongs, it’s time for us Lin fans to just sit back and enjoy the games.
Here’s a video I did on the Linsanity documentary back in 2013, when I made YouTube videos on Lin. I hope it helps get you pumped up for this season–not that you need any help. Enjoy!