Roundtable: The Absence of Jeremy Lin

(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Roundtable: The Absence of Jeremy Lin

All summer, the Brooklyn Nets were examined and analyzed through a Jeremy Lin-esque lens — and rightfully so, as the point guard was the franchise’s big splash signing. To this point, even at 2-4, the Nets are one of the NBA’s surprise team and their pace and penchant for shooting three-pointers are a testament to new head coach coach Kenny Atkinson’s style and substance.

And yet, most those handsomely attractive traits can be boiled down to Lin’s ability and skill-set on the court. With Lin now shelved for at least two weeks due to a strained hamstring — and Greivis Vasquez’s ankle injury still lingering — the Nets have had to deploy rookie Isaiah Whitehead and Sean Kilpatrick at point guard to middling results.

Last night, The Brooklyn Game got together to chat about Jeremy Lin’s absence and whether or not the Nets can navigate the calendar without him.

Nets’ two-week schedule:
vs. Hornets — L, 109-105
vs. Timberwolves
@ Knicks
@ Suns
@ Clippers
@ Lakers

What does this mean for the team?
That the Nets are in trouble. Atkinson’s offense tries to create space,  open looks, and keep defenders on their heels, but there’s no question as to who had the keys to the car. No one on the roster matches Lin’s speed, ball handling, and vision, so it should be tough sledding from here on out.

This team is just too thin to afford an injury to Lin, or Lope for that matter, but it’s a great opportunity for Isaiah Whitehead to gain some experience, and Randy Foye, who has returned from injury, to finally enter the rotation. — Ryan

Turnovers; a whole mess of bricked, contested jumpers; more turnovers; a lot of dribbling on the perimeter while Lopez calls for the ball; some more turnovers; the rest of the team becoming frustrated at Kilpatrick and Whitehead struggling to run the offense; a few more turnovers; Atkinson yelling a lot more. — Jaymz

In simplest terms? That they’re going to struggle for a few weeks while dishing out trials-by-fire to several players as they piece together their backcourt. Lin is not a star by any means, but he is a consistently strong presence at the point, and he has helped to bring out the best in the team’s big men thus far. They’ll feel this immediately, as players will have to work harder for their shots. It also means that Atkinson’s creativity is going to be tested — what’s he got up his sleeve? — Domenic

Who should fill in for Lin at point guard?
Whitehead showed some improvement yesterday compared to his terrible outing against the Chicago Bulls, but, as a rookie, his legs still move faster than his brain. Kilpatrick was heroic against the Pistons, but, late in the game, it was obvious that he was uncomfortable when their defense pressed high and trapped him up in the corner of the frontcourt. Remember, this was only against Ish Smith. Last night, Kemba Walker ended up with his first 30-point effort of the season and with Kris Dunn, Derrick Rose, and Eric Bledsoe yet to come, this will cause some headaches and the players must move off ball to support him. — Simon

It will be point guard by committee. We saw Kilpatrick handle the ball in Wednesday’s game against the Pistons and he did a decent job. Whitehead was expected to step up in a backup point guard role, but now he might have to start a game or two. Look for Rondae Hollis-Jefferson to handle the ball as well — he played a lot of point forward in summer league and has dished out six assists each over the last two games. — Jerry

Kilpatrick has been the primary ball handler when Lin is not on the floor, and it’s been a mixed bag so far. Of course, Kilpatrick doesn’t have traditional point guard skills — but Vasquez is the only player on the current roster that does, and he’s still hobbled. It will also be interesting to see if they (1) rush back Foye and/or Vasquez, (2) look at the available free agents for depth (Mario Chalmers is still looking for a job, or (3) trust the players that they already have (and maybe dip into the Long Island Nets’ roster). — Domenic

Expected record?
The next five games are the Timberwolves, Knicks, Suns, Clippers, and Lakers — so it’s not a horrific stretch, by any means. I’ll go with 2-4, with the team picking up wins over the Knicks and Lakers. — Domenic

I think they sneak past the Suns and Lakers but will go just 2-4 during this stretch. — Andrew

2-4. Brook Lopez will have to carry the load of the offense on his shoulders and I think we are all fine with that. Expect a little bit less of the motion offense during Lin’s absence and a little more of Brook in the post. In two wins, Lopez has scored 25 and 34 points. Kilpatrick will have to keep up his strong shooting and Bojan Bogdanovic will have to contribute consistently. A home win against the inexperienced, but talented, Timberwolves is reasonable and a win on the road against the Suns should be expected. — Jerry

When oddsmakers concocted Brooklyn’s grim over/under, this was precisely the scenario they had in mind: an injury to either Lopez or Lin. Lin’s injury impacts the team on both ends of the floor, and I don’t see how they win a game without him. — Ryan