Are the Nets Screwed Without Jeremy Lin?

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Jeremy Lin’s absence is not a blessing disguised as a setback for the Brooklyn Nets.

It’s a legitimate stumbling block that undermines a team that isn’t built to win but doesn’t have any incentive to lose.

The aftermath of Lin’s left hamstring injury underscores what Brooklyn’s season is all about: gauging the depth of this roster with minutes for prospects, projects and experimental lineups.

With a right ankle ailment keeping Greivis Vasquez sidelined next to Lin, this situation calls for more from the Nets’ other ball-handlers—more specifically Sean Kilpatrick and rookie Isaiah Whitehead, with a sprinkle of Randy Foye, who is set to make his return from a right hamstring injury

It’s not the ideal replacement committee. Not one of those three fits the truest description of a full-time point guard. Lin has quickly established himself as Brooklyn’s offensive lifeline; he is irreplaceable even with the rest of the roster at full strength.

No one on the team has a higher assist percentage (36), and Lin’s turnover rate (15.1) is right in line with last season’s career-best mark (14.9). Routine double-teams haven’t phased his decision-making, which has been particularly vital when he’s attacking the basket.

Among every player in the league averaging at least five drives per game, no one is matching Lin’s field-goal percentage (58.8) and assist rate (17.6). Only four players, in addition to Lin, are clearing 50 percent shooting and an assist rate of 15 in those situations: Goran Dragic, James Harden, George Hill and John Wall.

The Nets have pumped in 106.6 points per 100 possessions during the 134 minutes Lin has spent on the floor, compared to 95.1 in the 154 minutes without him. At this writing, that 11.5-point plunge is the difference between placing seventh and 28th in offensive efficiency.

More than that, it’s a bigger drop-off than many other teams experience during the absence of their star point guard:

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