As Nets make progress, Jeremy Lin takes note
Nets guard likes what he sees from team's growing young players
The Brooklyn Nets are far ahead of their pace from the last two seasons, and Jeremy Lin is looking forward to his team taking the next step.
“I’m just excited,” said Lin, just after answering questions from Nets fans during a Reddit LIVE AMA from HSS Training Center. “I think for every young team, at this point we’re seeing glimpses of really good basketball. It’s maintaining that or sustaining that and then doing it against even better teams. A lot of the close games, hopefully we’ll start to swing them around.”
He sees the progress of players he’s shared the court with and watched grow over the past year. Spencer Dinwiddie, in the absence of Lin and D’Angelo Russell, has emerged as a quality playmaker with a steadily rising assist rate and one of the best assist to turnover ratios in the NBA. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson has found his niche as a small-ball power forward, facing up for slashes to the rim and mid-range jumpers.
“I think that Spencer has done a great job,” said Lin. “He’s playing with more confidence. He has a lot of tools. Just a really good solid player. People have maybe not given him the credit he’s deserved, but now he’s starting to show that. I think we’ve seen Rondae take huge steps as well. Rondae has been one of the more consistent players.”
Then there’s Caris LeVert, the rangy second-year swingman. In the preseason, Lin had expressed his anticipation for big things to come for LeVert, impressed by what he’d seen during their summer workout sessions.
He’s watched LeVert steadily elevate his game over the course of this second season, embracing the opportunity to have the ball in his hands more and grow as both a scorer and distributor.
“We have Caris, who I think everybody understands is an extremely young, high-ceiling dynamic player and we’re seeing spurts or glimpses of it and I think in due time we’ll start to see it more on a night-in, night-out basis,” said Lin. “He’s learning lot. And also people forget he had been hurt for a long time. Last season he missed out on a lot recovering from the previous injuries. He missed his last two years of college. He’s young.”
Lin has had to observe much of this from afar following the opening night knee injury that ended his season. He had surgery within days and is working his way back steadily.
In the preseason, there was an enthusiasm and optimism emanating from Lin as he looked forward to the 2017-18 season and the opportunity to play with new teammates such as Russell, DeMarre Carroll and Allen Crabbe. That has not been diminished. He maintains a steady connection with teammates and coaches.
“I’m definitely very engaged,” said Lin. “I text a lot of the players and the players will check in on me. I would say every week different players are texting me, seeing how things are going and when I see something in their game that might help them I’ll shoot them a text as well. It’s not forced. We legitimately care about each other.”
Those bonds left Lin disappointed to see teammates Trevor Booker and Sean Kilpatrick depart, but he’s optimistic about the impact that can be provided by new arrivals Jahlil Okafor and Nik Stauskas.
“We’ve gotten Nik, who we saw the other night was able to light it up quickly, and then Jahlil, people forget what he did his rookie year,” said Lin. “It’s hard to come in and do what he did his rookie year. I’m sure we’ll be hearing about a lot more of him in the future. It helps our future.”
In the meantime, he’s making his own progress. The long timeframe of the expected recovery from his ruptured patella tendon left Lin fearing it would be a while before he could experience measurable progress.
That hasn’t been the case. As he splits his time between workouts in Brooklyn and Vancouver, he counts small wins on a daily basis that help keep him engaged in what he calls a full rebuild of his body.
“Just keep on this plan,” said Lin. “We’re not really putting any time or target date on any of the milestones for rehab really. It’s more just listening to the body, seeing how everything progresses. I have a year to do it, so there’s no rush. And then I just can’t wait to come back and hopefully be a better version of myself.”