What happened to just sitting back and enjoying the games? Ha ha. I see too many Lin and Nets fans panicking way too early. There are so many new elements with the Nets. New management, coach, players, systems, etc. And preseason is the time to test everything out. It’s unwise to scrutinize preseason games–especially for this new look Nets team.
I see some Lin fans panicking, because they don’t see Lin handling the ball as much as he should be in Atkinson’s motion offense. And, because of all the stuff Lin fans have been through, they’re once again worried that Lin may be forced to fit into a system and not be allowed to play his game. While I understand the concern, I do think it’s way too early to panic.
Atkinson has said in interviews that he wants to establish the motion offense, even though he understands the importance of the PnR. My interpretation of this is that right now Atkinson really wants to focus on getting everyone comfortable with his motion offense system and really take advantage of preseason to practice it and get it down as much as possible. The motion offense will be Atkinson’s main system. Yes, in the motion system, Lin will be playing off the ball more. But unlike in Lin’s previous teams, Lin will get the ball back after he gives it up, because Lin’s teammates know that Lin is the main guy. So I think Lin fans get a little too carried away with their concern about Lin not being utilized properly in the motion offense. Lin playing off the ball with the Nets is not gong to be what it was like in the past.
I actually like the motion offense, because it gets everyone involved. And when everyone gets involved, that’s when you see team ball, because no one feels neglected. My main concern is that the Nets won’t incorporate enough PnRs and it’ll be too motion offense heavy. And I think this is the concern that a lot of Lin fans have, as well. But I think right now it’s way too early to really be worried about this, because I do believe that once the regular season gets under way there will be a much better mix of PnRs with motion offense. I’m also sure that Lin will handle the ball more in the regular season than he has been in preseason. Again, Atkinson’s main goal on offense right now is to really get everyone comfortable with his motion offense. I think he already knows what Lin can do in the PnR so he doesn’t want to do too much PnR in preseason, because he knows what to expect from that and it involves fewer players. Also, since the other big purpose of preseason is to evaluate players, the motion offense really allows you to do just that.
From Atkinson’s interview I linked to above, it’s clear to me that Atkinson understands the importance of the PnR and he understands the importance of Lin handling the ball. For example, he says that in critical times, they’ll run specific plays for Lin and Brook. Don’t get me wrong, Atkinson still does favor motion offense over PnRs, but once the regular season gets under way I expect that we’ll see a better balance of motion offense and PnRs.
The other thing that makes me not very worried at all this season is that I think Atkinson will be a more flexible coach. He’ll adapt his system as he has a better feel for his players and their skill sets. This will take time to figure out, so don’t expect him to keep changing the offense all the time. But I do see him as being a flexible coach. Also, Lin has an open dialogue with Atkinson so I think Lin will be able to express his frustrations more freely with Atkinson and I think Atkinson will listen. I don’t expect things to look exactly the way I want them to even once regular season starts, but I’m not worried because I know things will eventually work itself out as the season wears on.
The kind of funny phenomenon I’ve seen with Nets fans is that even though pretty much all of them expect the Nets to be pretty horrible, winning 20 games or so, they complain when the Nets look as horrible as they expect them to be. The human mind is a funny thing, man. I even saw these Nets fans complain about Nets not winning the close game against the Celtics when they played at Barclays Center. I mean this is supposed to be a 20-game win team that competed hard and almost beat a team that will likely be in the top 3 in the East and people are complaining?! I don’t get it. It’s like people expect the Nets to be horrible and complain when they’re not playing at the very highest level. Also, you can’t draw any conclusion about how the Nets played down the stretch in that close game, because Lin and other main players weren’t even in the game. Yet, I see a lot of Nets fans commenting that it’s going to be a long season when the Nets’s second unit looked bad down the stretch in that close game. I mean, what do you expect the Nets’s second unit to look like in crunch time?
To me, the Nets look how I’ve expected them to look. Flashes of brilliance as well as flashes of horrendousness. I am predicting a 35+ win season and I think that’s pretty much what they look like. I know people will think I’m crazy for saying this, but Lin has only been playing a little over 20 minutes in the preseason, not really playing his game, and the Nets are still somewhat competitive. Imagine what will happen once Lin plays 36 minute a game and is handling the ball a lot more? I think people get too bogged down with what goes on in preseason that they lose sight of how different things could look in the regular season.
once the regular season starts, I’ll be watching to see whether or not Atkinson starts balancing out the motion offense with some more PnRs and having Lin handle the ball more. I do still expect the Nets to be 70 percent or so motion offense so it’s not like I expect them to suddenly be doing PnRs half of the time.
My main concern on offense is that Lin will try to be too much of a facilitator. I think this is a mistake, because Lin is the best scorer on this team and if Nets want to win, Lin has to be much more of a scorer than a facilitator. I know some Lin fans will disagree, but to me Lin is more of a scoring point guard than a passing point guard and he’s at his best when he’s scoring. You’ll notice that in his big scoring games, his assists also go up. When Lin scores, that’s when his entire game opens up and that’s when he can really be effective at making plays for others. I’m concerned that Lin doesn’t want to be seen as hogging the ball and so he will want to be more of a facilitator, which is also what Atkinson appears to want Lin to be. Hopefully, sometime in the middle of the season, they’ll both come to realize that what’s best for this team is that Lin becomes more of a scoring point guard than a passing point guard.
Once again, I want to reiterate that Lin is finally where he belongs. Lin fans can sit back and enjoy the games. It’s not going to be perfect, but it’s as perfect as it can reasonably get for Lin with the Nets. Also, patience is a really good thing for this season, because it’ll take time for the players to gel and for Atkinson to really figure out a system that maximizes their strengths. If they lose a series of games, don’t panic, because they can still lose a lot of games and still end up with 35 wins, which for a lot of analysts and Nets fans would be considered a great season for the Nets. It’ll be good to keep a big-picture perspective this season and not get too lost in the game-by-game swings.