Jeremy Lin, Kenny Atkinson, & The Zipper

Jeremy Lin made his long-awaited return after the All-Star break. In his (minutes-restricted) games, Lin has begun to regain his form, showing the Nets what they missed for over half of the season. Lin has shown his ability as a downhill attacker, displaying his crafty touch at the rim. His jumper has looked impressive as of late. Even through the injuries, Lin still possesses the NBA’s most polarizing hairstyle. While he has had issues with his efficiency with the ball, Lin has been a welcome playmaking addition.

Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson has installed a modern offense, as I’ve detailed previously. The offense borrows heavily from the Atlanta Hawks, where coach Mike Budenholzer has seen success running a similar system. Budenholzer is a Gregg Popovich disciple. Kenny Atkinson is a grandchild of the Spurs coaching tree, while also drawing influence from Houston Rockets head coach (and Coach of the Year candidate) Mike D’Antoni.

Because of the limited time Lin has played for the Nets this season, his role in the offense has not been fully defined. Previously, Lin worked well as an off-ball player, a secondary ballhandler amidst quality playmakers. He was featured in lineups with All-Star guards Kemba Walker and James Harden in Charlotte and Houston, respectively. As the lead point guard for Brooklyn, Lin has to set the tone for his teammates

The Zipper

In Brooklyn’s first game after the All-Star break, Lin made his return against the Denver Nuggets. In a disappointing loss to Denver, Lin played 15 minutes. But Lin’s minutes were a welcome addition for a team that only had one win in 2017. One play, in particular, was of note, for both the Nets and Jeremy Lin.

(WARNING: Over-analysis ahead. Proceed if you REALLY like the Brooklyn Nets, Jeremy Lin, and basketball)

So…what does a play ending in a Caris LeVert miss have to do with Jeremy Lin’s role as a leader of the Nets’ offense? So what side shall we look at? The socioeconomical, astrological, numerological, or mechanical implications of that one play on a cold Friday night in Denver? Um, none of them.

Basketball coaches call this a zipper cut. It’s a pretty common play and has many different wrinkles and scenarios.

Lin initiated the offense in a half court set. The play was likely called by Coach Kenny Atkinson and relayed to Lin to pass onto his teammates. Lin passed the ball to Caris LeVert at the top of the key. After the pass, Lin cut toward the basket, with a down screen from Brook Lopez. Lin continues to cut across the paint, as Sean Kilpatrick and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson set double screens. The point of the double screen was to trap or smush Lin’s defender, who was already lagging because of the initial Lopez screen.

Lin cut to the deep corner, receiving the long pass from LeVert. Off-ball, Sean Kilpatrick cuts away to open up a driving lane, while Hollis-Jefferson creeps towards Lin to initiate the corner pick and roll. (The sideline pick and roll is The Cheesecake Factory of basketball plays, with all of its wonderful options.)

After receiving the pass, Lin denies the screen attempt by RHJ and takes the dribble. Jameer Nelson is a step slow, so Lin is able to get his shoulders past. Denver clogs the paint, with the entire Nuggets defense collapsing on his drive.