Finally, that brings us to the Lin Factor.
I think those low win projections were partly because once again writers are underestimating Lin’s abilities. Lin fans, however, have seen many times what he can do when empowered as a starting guard. In 13 starts for the Hornets last season, for example, Lin’s stats jumped big time: he averaged 17.5 points 4.8 assists, and shot 46 percent from three. With added PT from Hornets coach Steve Clifford, Lin also played major roles in upsets of top-tier teams like the Cavs, Spurs, and Raptors, and was a key player in an important late-season victory over rival playoff-seed Boston. Then, in the playoffs, after the Hornets fell behind to Miami, 2-0,Lin helped trigger three straight wins to put Charlotte up, 3-2. But when coach Clifford inexplicably reduced Lin’s role, Heat rallied and won finally two games to eliminate Hornets.
I also believe writers based their estimates in part on Lin’s stats as a backup point guard. But with an expanded role under Atkinson, Lin is capable of scoring 20 points a game and racking up to 8-9 assists. And this summer, for the second straight year, Lin is working with his longtime shooting coach, Doc Scheppler on fully implementing a faster three-point shot release. Last year Lin was thinking too much about his new release and didn’t have it in muscle memory. This time around, knowing how hard Lin works and how responsive he is to coaching, I’m educated-guessing that his three-point shooting percentage is going to approach 40 percent.
Bottom line: the Nets are a mystery team with so many variables–plus and minus–that I think writing them off as a 20-win team I suspect is going to look foolish when April rolls around.
Let’s go out on a limb. Hey, why not?: 36 wins, Lin and Lopez become All-Stars, and Atkinson wins Coach of the Year.
Go Brook-Lin Nets!
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