Nets Desperately Need Jeremy Lin Healthy

Oct 11, 2016; Miami, FL, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Jeremy Lin (7) dribbles the ball against the Miami Heat during the first half at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 11, 2016; Miami, FL, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Jeremy Lin (7) dribbles the ball against the Miami Heat during the first half at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Brooklyn Nets‘ big-name free agent signing this offseason was point guard Jeremy Lin. His return to New York sparked memories of the “Linsanity” that ensued while he was a member of the New York Knicks.

Jeremy Lin spent time with both Houston and Los Angeles after being in New York with his play varying at both locations. His final stop before Brooklyn was Charlotte, where he played almost as well as he did in New York.

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Coach Atkinson was an assistant coach on the Knicks during Lin’s stint in New York and has been given praises for his part in Lin’s great play while he was there. General Manager Sean Marks knew this, and believed that bringing Lin onto the roster could be a win-win for all involved.

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To start the season, Lin was playing well and running Atkinson’s offense with ease. Nets fans were beginning to get excited, with hopes that this play would continue and they would finally have a legitimate point guard on their team. Something that they have been craving since the Jason Kidd era.

On November 2, Lin suffered a hamstring injury against the Detroit Pistons that would sideline him for almost six weeks. Fans were frustrated with the injury, but they knew that the team would not be making a playoff push, so there was no need to rush back an important player like Lin.

The offense didn’t look the same in his absence as young players that wouldn’t normally see extended minutes were sprang into action, particularly Isaiah Whitehead. Whitehead performed admirably, but he was not meant to be the starter yet.

Nov 4, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Jeremy Lin (7) on the bench with an injury in the first quarter against Charlotte Hornets at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 4, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Jeremy Lin (7) on the bench with an injury in the first quarter against Charlotte Hornets at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports

Jeremy Lin returns from first hamstring injury

Fans waited for a long time for some good news on the injury, but they continued to see Lin on the sidelines in a suit game after game. It was good to see how involved he still wanted to be with the team, and the way that he was willing to teach the younger players, but fans weren’t paying to see him coach.

After six long weeks, Lin returned on December 12 against the Houston Rockets. He came off the bench and played well in a hard-fought loss, leading the team in assists. He was obviously rusty, but the offense looked better with him on the floor. As Lin got more comfortable in the game, the offense ran smoother and smoother, a good sign for the Nets’ faithful.

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Lin played in the next seven games, began to look healthy and was starting to gel with his new teammates. He had his shot back, his signature quickness was on display and the creative passes from a true point guard were being dished out to his teammates. Fans were getting used to seeing him on the floor, and although the team still lost more than they won, it was competitive, good basketball to watch.

This enjoyment was short-lived again, on December 26, in a game against his former team, the Charlotte Hornets, Lin pulled up lame in the third quarter. He was fouled while driving towards the hoop, immediately came off the court and made his way to the locker room. Lin was injured again with the same left hamstring — although in a different area — that kept him out for six weeks earlier in the season.

Apr 4, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Deron Williams (8) shoots the ball against the Atlanta Hawks in the first quarter at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Apr 4, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Deron Williams (8) shoots the ball against the Atlanta Hawks in the first quarter at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Nets have a history with injured point guards

Injuries happen in sports, and nagging injuries that don’t go away are the worst for any athlete, but Brooklyn Nets fans are forever scared. Their experience with generally healthy point guards coming to the team and getting injured often is far too fresh in their memory. Recent example: Deron Williams (try to hold in your anger, please).

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Williams was the high-priced consolation prize for not landing Carmelo Anthony via trade in 2011. Both the Nets and Knicks were bidding for Anthony’s talents and when the Knicks won out the Nets’ fan base seemed to be deflated.

But the General Manager at the time, Billy King, sent a package of Devin Harris, Derrick Favors, two draft picks and cash to Utah acquire the All-Star Deron Williams and give the franchise life. This trade was deemed a win for the Nets with Williams being one of the premier talents in the NBA.

Williams played well for his first two season while the Nets were still in New Jersey and looked poised to put the franchise on his back when it was officially moved to Brooklyn. The move to Brooklyn came with shooting guard Joe Johnson‘s arrival from the Atlanta Hawks. The Nets seemed to be putting together a super backcourt and a big three of their own with Williams, Johnson and Brook Lopez.

Dec 23, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Jeremy Lin (7) drives against Cleveland Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson (13) during the second half at Quicken Loans Arena. The Cavs won 119-99. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Looking at the present day

The big three never really got going, as both Williams and Lopez spent more time in the training room than on the floor together. Williams was consistently bothered by bad ankles, and it was noticeable as the once high flying dunk machine that was Deron Williams could barely get enough air for a finger roll layup.

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Nagging injuries plagued Williams throughout his whole tenure with the Nets, and the fans quickly saw a superstar player decline in front of their eyes, and get paid a lot of money to do it. He was the player that was supposed to lift the franchise to new heights, but he was never on the court long enough to do it.

Similar to Williams’ time on the Nets, Nets fans are now frustrated with Lin’s on-and-off problems with his hamstring. This isn’t the first time Brooklyn has had issues with point guards who can’t remain healthy, so this lingering frustration has existed for years. It may be unfair to Lin, but Nets fans are going to be sensitive about their star point guard being injury-prone after the ordeal with Williams.

Before this year, Lin was not known for having injury issues, and no one wants him to start having them. Lin had played no less than 70 games after his stint in New York while this season alone he has already missed 19 games and counting due to injury.

If Lin’s goal is to be a face of the franchise and lead it to contention, then he must stay on the court. He has the skill to lead the team and fans want to see him out there. Fans understand that this year is not a year where they will contend, but building towards the future is the goal and they want to see if Lin can be their franchise point guard. It may be early into his Nets’ tenure, but he needs to show us if he is really made up of Brooklyn Grit, or just another Deron Williams. I’m hopeful for the best.

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