The Brooklyn Nets enter 2017-18 with a gluten of guards. Heading into training camp, eight guys naturally fit into either backcourt position, and Caris LeVert, Allen Crabbe and even Rondae Hollis-Jefferson can slide into the two if the situation calls for it. Of everyone, however, only three or four are going to be the Nets’ primary point guards: Jeremy Lin, Spencer Dinwiddie, D’Angelo Russell and maybe Isaiah Whitehead.
Each has a unique set of skills that they can maximize in different situations, and Kenny Atkinson is already comfortable with most of his ball-handlers. This piece is going to highlight those four because their duties are going to be different from the other guards’. They will be Brooklyn’s floor generals. The others, who can serve as secondary ball handlers, aren’t going to have the full-time job of initiating the offense and making their teammates better. And to a certain extent, Russell won’t have that job either.
If I’m Kenny Atkinson, I’m opening the season with Jeremy Lin as my starting point guard and D’Angelo Russell at the two. Some won’t agree with this. Russell, who played a lot in the point guard role with the Lakers, doesn’t prefer that spot, and I can’t blame him. He’s always been a natural scorer. Lin, on the other hand, has spent his entire career at that position. Last year — his first with the Nets — was solid despite the mess that was his hamstring. In 36 games, he averaged 14.5 points and 5.1 assists in just 24.5 minutes, and he looked comfortable running Atkinson’s offense. Some of that stems from its simplicity.
Atkinson runs a motion offense that involves players moving the ball around and getting up a ton of shots. The Nets didn’t play through one player unless it was Brook Lopez, and even he got a fair amount of shots off the extra pass. I expect this to continue this year (just without Brook).
Lin does a great job of slashing and forcing the defense to move. He’s a solid athlete, but not the most explosive. To offset that, Lin uses his brain and his teammates. From what I saw of him last year, he was at his best when handling the ball in the pick-and-roll. Depending on how the defense played him, Lin has the balanced repertoire to convert a variety of shots and his dialed-in perimeter shot (37.2 percent from 3) made him just a bit tougher to guard.
Basketball is more than offense, and I don’t know if Lin’s an underrated defender or Brooklyn as a team was so bad that everyone just looked like garbage. I think a lot of the latter has to do with it.
Jeremy Lin isn’t an All-Defensive guy, but he’s serviceable. However, having defense is porous, as the Nets’ would make Gary Payton look bad.
The backup to Lin is almost guaranteed to be Spencer Dinwiddie. After one year with the Nets, Dinwiddie has finally got the ball rolling on his NBA career. His two failed seasons with the Detroit Pistons are in the past, and he’s poised to be in a position to make an impact with the Nets.