Not that anyone is counting but it’s been seven years since Jeremy Lin had an impressive streak that was given it’s own name (Linsanity) by Metta World Peace. It thrust Lin into a Kobe Bryant-LeBron James world. Seven years later, Bryant is retired, LeBron has been to the NBA Finals seven years in a row, winning three titles, and Jeremy Lin has played for six teams after leaving New York. It was a Cinderella story, the stuff of movies until real life dropped Jeremy Lin a curve ball.
Lin’s MSG brilliance was epic. It was also unsustainable for a player who wasn’t drafted. Absent a perfect month, Lin was like many NBA players. Only a few are not treading water. Most have ups and down in their career spliced with injuries, bad timing, atrocious luck, good moments and a roulette wheel of uncertainty.
Jeremy Lin began this year in Atlanta whose number one goal was to develop Trae Young. The Hawks drafted Young to sell tickets and to (hopefully) be a Steph Curry 2.0. Young isn’t much of a shooter his first year, 41%, 31% from three but he averages 7.4 assists and he is exciting to watch. The Hawks hope his summer will pay dividends and he’ll return for his second year like De’Aaron Fox.
The Hawks best player is 21 year old John Collins. If he played on a playoff team, his name would be more than an afterthought. He has mad game- 19.3 points, 9.8 rebounds, 21.9 PER.
Then there is Jeremy Lin.
In his 9th season and coming of a brutal knee injury, Lin came off the bench for 51 games playing 20 minutes. His nearly 11 ppg was a career low, absent his rookie year, but then so were his minutes. He proved his value in the 4th quarter, making 52% of his shots and 38% of his threes. Looking at his numbers, his 16% on three pointers in the first quarter may have something to do with not being able to get warmed up since he didn’t start. As the quarters progressed, his 3-ball improved.
Lin and the Hawks are negotiating a buyout. No point in having a veteran like Lin on the team who wants to win when the Hawks are trying to tank for Zion Williamson. Lin and the Raptors have agreed to terms.
He will sub for Kyle Lowry because Fred VanVleet is out with a ligament tear. His former Brooklyn Nets coach Kenny Atkinson gave the Lin move north an A+.
“Heck of an addition with Fred being out a little bit. Much better defender than people think. He fits the style of play. He’s an elite competitor. Everyone competes in the league. But I think there is a pocket of guys that go above and beyond that. You know he’s going to be prepared. He’s meticulous in his preparation.”
Here’s the thing about Jeremy Lin. His work ethic, drive and heart is his talent. He has speed and can get to the rim. He doesn’t give up on plays. He wants it badly. But he isn’t as talented off the dribble and bounce like a Steph Curry, Damian Lillard, John Wall, Russell Westbrook. He isn’t selfish and has nice court vision but not Magic Johnson-esque. Atkinson is right. He’s an elite competitor but what Linsanity seemed to tell the world was that Jeremy Lin was an exceptional scorer too. He’s not.
Toronto has Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry so they don’t need an iconic scorer and shot maker. They need Lin to keep things rolling when the second unit comes in.
Probably for the first time in his career, 30 year old Jeremy Lin is really needed. And the bonus in all of it is he’s going to the playoffs with the odds heavily favored on a Jeremy Lin first: the conference semi-finals.