BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Jeremy Lin’s absence is not a blessing disguised as a setback for theBrooklyn 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 oneis matching Lin’s field-goal percentage (58.8) andassist rate (17.6). Onlyfour 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 andJohn Wall.
The Nets have pumped in 106.6 points per 100 possessions during the134 minutesLin 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 placingseventh and 28thin offensive efficiency.
More than that, it’s a bigger drop-off than many other teams experience during the absence of their star point guard: