When the Hawks completed a trade with the Brooklyn Nets to bring Jeremy Lin to Atlanta, there were many people (myself included) that were confused as to where Lin would fit in with the club. This was mostly because few thought that the Hawks were going to be able to move incumbent point guard Dennis Schröder with a large portion of his four-year contract still remaining.
Now that the Hawks have moved Schroder to Oklahoma City, it is at least the slightest bit easier to understand where Lin fits on the team and what his role will be going forward. Lin’s biggest hurdle to overcome is the fact that he hasn’t played competitive basketball since the first game of last season when he ruptured his right patellar tendon and likely has some serious rust to shake off with training camp approaching quickly.
Atlanta also has to be slightly concerned with whether Lin will ever be the same player he was in Brooklyn prior to this major injury. Nevertheless, the Hawks will have to hope for the best at this point and try to get Lin on the court as soon as possible to help take some pressure off of top rookie prospect Trae Young.
Young figures to be the starting point guard for the Hawks, who acquired him on draft night by trading their No. 3 overall pick (Luka Doncic) to the Mavericks, who drafted Young for Atlanta. So with that in mind, it looks like Jeremy Lin’s best fit on the squad is as the sixth man with the potential to serve as an opening night starter if the team feels Young needs additional seasoning. In case you aren’t familiar with Lin’s game, let’s take a look at how he’ll be able to excel as a backup point guard and mentor for Trae Young.
Lin is widely best known for his offense, which was what got him into the national spotlight back in his days with the Knicks when “Linsanity” was born. Lin is a versatile scorer and is a constant threat to shoot with any bit of given space by the defender. Lin also works well off the ball as we will see below and can set up his teammates fairly well, which is definitely what the Hawks want Young to see and be around.
The veteran guard has only played in 37 total NBA games since the beginning of the 2016-17 season, which makes it hard to judge his stats over the last two years. However, one thing Lin has always been solid with is his jump shot, especially from beyond the arc, where he is a career 35% shooter over 8 NBA seasons.
Lin is not only a spot up shooter (as we’ll take a look at later) but does a fairly nice job of setting his feet and getting good rotation on the ball on this fast-break three pointer against the Hornets in 2016.
As you’ll see here, Lin can also shoot off the dribble thanks to his solid attack jump-stop, which basically means when he stops to make a decision he puts his body in position to make a pass or go straight up for the shot. Here he runs straight towards his defender to get him on his heels and then stops on a dime to spring the jumper and cans it.
Lin shows some versatility here, as his defender has to respect his three point ability and Lin gets a full head of steam going towards the bucket and finishes the tough layup in traffic. This also should have probably been called as a foul.
Here against Cleveland in 2016, we can see Lin go hard towards the basket again while he shows off his solid body control in the air and his balance after he comes down on his feet ready to get back on defense.
Here against the defending champion Golden State Warriors Lin does a great job of leading the fast-break and taking charge in the lane to get a tough floater to fall. Floaters are a big part of Trae Young’s offensive game. Are you sensing a pattern here?
In this clip against the Raptors, Lin shows a great ability to play off the ball, which is something Hawk fans might see Lin doing this season in a pairing of he and Young in the Atlanta backcourt. Lin catches and doesn’t hesitate with his move towards the rim and when Lin feels the contact of the defender he puts his shoulders forward and then steps back into an easy jumper. These are things an undersized point guard needs to learn (hint, hint).
Lin shows off some of his strong frame here against the 76ers in a close game late as he manages to keep his feet and finish through contact for the shot plus a foul.
Now, let’s take a look at some of Lin’s passing ability. Here against the Pacers, Lin initiates the pick and roll and gets Brook Lopez’s matchup to stick with Lin to guard against the step back jump shot. As Lopez’s man drifts to help Lin’s defender Lin lasers a no-look pass inside to an awaiting Lopez for the easy dunk. A well-run, shifty play that can happen thanks in large part to Lin’s ability to shoot the ball.
In this clip you will see Lin run up-court quickly and get parallel with Brook Lopez from the three point line moving towards the basket. As Lin begins to make his move, he realizes the switch that has occurred and immediately drives alongside Lopez and into Koufos, which forces Koufos to stay with Lin leaving Lopez wide open for the jam. This is a well designed play by Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson, but Lin’s ability to be forceful with the big and get Koufos to fall for the floater attempt allows this play to happen.
Lin is solid offensively for sure. The Hawks biggest concern has to be his health and the ability of Lin to make the quick lateral “cut” moves that are such a big part of is game. The team will most likely need to ease Lin back into action regardless, but the offensive skillset is absolutely there when he is healthy.
Lin definitely isn’t known for his defensive prowess but does what he can with his foot speed and frame. Lin has to play defense with witty decisions and grit due to his lack of explosiveness athletically, but you can definitely see it in his game all the time and the fact that he is trying on defense is what the Hawks want Trae Young to see and learn from.
Here you’ll see Lin, against Cleveland, after missing a shot in the lane, ripping the ball away and sliding his way to the underside of the rim for a nice layup and solid hustle play.
In this play against his former team, Lin shows off some of that heads-up play that is so necessary to his defensive game. He lives in passing lanes and will for sure get at least a steal per game just by being heads up like this.
Finally, in this clip against the Knicks, you can see Lin’s lower body strength as to not get pummeled on a switch where most point guards would get run over. Lin plays defense with his feet pretty well as to not pick up a foul while giving up a foot in height to Porzingis.
Overall, Lin is not first team all defense, but he can definitely show up on a nightly basis and gives effort even in situations like the one above where no one would blame him for taking a play off. Lin uses his smarts and good speed to jump into passing lanes and can at least survive as a defender of opposing point guards.
What you can expect from Jeremy Lin in the coming season is a player, if healthy, who can average 15 points and 5 assists off the bench while playing passable defense. He is an asset on the right contract not only for his scoring ability but also because he has been around the league for a few years and is a perfect veteran to have around a young team like the Hawks. This is proved by his teams of choice over the last four seasons, which have all been young.
If Lin can get healthy and play this season, I predict Atlanta fans will love him and, if he plays well, the Hawks might even have a nice mid-season trade chip on their hands.