By Matthew Brennan, NBA D-League.com
January 12, 2011: There are plenty of NBA players who are assigned to the NBA D-League in any given season, but Golden State Warriors rookie guard Jeremy Lin is a bigger name than most. As the first Chines-American player to reach the NBA and the first player from the Ivy League player (Harvard) in the NBA since 2003, Lin has a few more eyes following him than your average undrafted rookie free agent. His basketball journey took another turn a few weeks ago when he was assigned to the NBA D-League's Reno Bighorns to get more playing time and work on his game.
"Being able to come down here has been a blessing in disguise for me," said Lin at the NBA D-League Showcase on Wednesday. "It's been huge for my development as a player so I'm trying to try to take advantage of it."
A few games into his NBA D-League tenure, the numbers back up Lin's statement. After five games in Reno he is averaging 18.6 points on .527 (29-55) shooting from the field. In front of a big crowd on Wednesday, Lin showcased his talents with 21 points, seven rebounds, and six assists. It's been a positive experience even though Lin had some misgivings about joining the Bighorns at first.
"To be honest I was struggling with it," said Lin about Golden State's decision to assign him to Reno. "I felt like I was being demoted or not good enough to play in the NBA. But now it's changed my perspective. I wouldn't be able to put this work in with the Warriors. I'm just trying to learn and grow until I'm ready for the Warriors to call me back up."
Despite his initial success on the NBA D-League level, Lin still feels that he has a lot to work in order to get better as a player. The Warriors are keeping a close eye on his progress and had some front office members in town to see his Showcase debut.
"I've noticed that I've done some good things, but there are some things I want to improve on that I want to keep focusing on", said Lin. "Things like getting more assists and cutting down on my turnovers. Getting more rebounds, shooting three-pointers better, there are a lot of areas of improvement that I can work on. We have a guy right here, who came to watch. I'm getting a lot of feedback from him after my games."
Due to the combined status of being an NBA-assigned player and the someone who receives a lot of attention due to his Asian heritage, Lin knows that his opponents will be ready to challenge him to prove that he belongs at this level. If he turns in more performances similiar to Wednesday's, than more of those challenges will be coming on the NBA level in the near future.
"There's going to be a target on my back, but I think that's the case even if I wasn't on an NBA roster," said Lin. "There's the case of me having a lot of publicity in terms of being an Asian-American player, so a lot of guys will come at me. My heritage means a lot to me. I'm very proud to be of Asian heritage and I just want to reach my potential as a player."