Understanding Jeremy Lin’s Impact on the Brooklyn Nets’ Offense

Jeremy Lin is going to be the catalyst of the Brooklyn Nets’ offense this season, but how exactly does he impact it?

The league has come a long way since the 1960s and ‘70s when big men dominated, and we can thank Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls for initiating the changing of the guard (pun not intended). Nowadays, guys like Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden dominate so much of the game because of their ability to demand attention. Not only does that generate more buckets for them, but it also opens things up for their teammates.

The Brooklyn Nets don’t have a MVP-caliber floor general, but Jeremy Lin is more than capable of occupying the point guard slot on a competitive team, which is a nice consolation prize for a franchise that finished in the league’s basement. We didn’t get to see much of it last year because the Harvard alum suited up for just 36 games thanks to various hamstring issues, but the Nets felt his impact whenever he stepped on the court. In 24.5 minutes a night, Lin averaged 14.5 points and 5.1 rebounds while shooting 43.8 percent overall. The Nets were 13-23 in contests he played.

His impact wasn’t intoxicating, but it was something. Brooklyn put up 105.6 points per 100 possessions with Lin on the court, compared to 104.1 when he sat. There are, of course, other factors that play into how the team performs. The talent of the roster as a whole directly impacts how a team guards the opposing point guard. Golden State is the most extreme example because teams can’t throw multiple defenders at Stephen Curry when he can kick the ball to Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green or someone else. Conversely, it’s not much safer letting someone guard Steph one-on-one because, well, he’s a wizard with the basketball and makes All-Defense guys look silly. For the Warriors, it’s an incredible problem to have. The Nets don’t have that.

Brooklyn averaged 105.8 points a night last year (12th) but was 28th in efficiency. Their leading scorer was Brook Lopez at 20.5 points, but he’s no longer with the team. (I’m not crying, you’re crying!) D’Angelo Russell is going to help with the scoring, as well as Sean Kilpatrick and anyone else who wants to step up. Lin, however, is going to be the epicenter.

He’ll be the Nets’ starting point guard come opening night. Russell, who played a ton of the one with the Los Angeles Lakers, said it’s easier for him to play at shooting guard, and it’s obvious that he’s better suited as a go-to scorer and secondary ball handler. Brooklyn’s system features a ton of motion and ball movement. That is because of Kenny Atkinson, who’s a product of the Gregg Popovich coaching tree. He teaches unselfishness because it’s a good habit, but also because the Nets don’t have the talent to rely on one person to get them buckets consistently. Teams like the Cavaliers can do so because of LeBron James.

Lin’s First Season in Brooklyn

Jeremy Lin did an excellent job as the orchestrator. For the first time since Linsanity, he was able to fully command an offense. In Houston, it was James Harden’s team. In Los Angeles, Lin was the puppeteer, but the weapons paled in comparison to what’s in Brooklyn. Most recently, he played backup to Kemba Walker in Charlotte, a role that he excelled in because he was the go-to guy for that second unit. Now back in the driver’s seat, it’s Lin’s job to put everyone before himself. And that he did.