WATCH: Jeremy Lin poses as Adidas employee for prank

Los Angeles Lakers guard Jeremy Lin is now going to play an integral part in the team’s 2014 campaign. With Steve Nash out for the season with a back injury, it’ll be up to Lin to run the show from here on out. And he’s a versatile guy. Not only is he a good basketball player, but he’s also a solid actor. Lin recently dressed up as an Adidas salesperson and went undercover at the company’s flagship store in Taipei, Taiwan…

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Lakers News: Steve Nash’s Season-Ending Injury Creates Big Role for Jeremy Lin

Entering the last year of his current contract, Jeremy Lin has been given a massive opportunity to woo any potential suitors, albeit due to some unfortunate circumstances.

According to a league source cited by Bleacher Report’s Kevin Ding, incumbent starting point guard and future Hall of Famer Steve Nash will miss the entire 2014-15 season as a result of nerve damage in his back.

It’s a shame to see Nash, one of the most enjoyable players on the planet during the last decade, likely end his marvelous career on such a sour note, but as Sports Illustrated‘s Chris Mannix noted, this makes it Lin’s time to step up:

Whether he indeed enters the starting lineup or comes off the bench in favor of the more defensively minded Ronnie Price (as he has the last two preseason games), Lin is going to receive north of 30 minutes per game.

Despite dealing with an ankle injury throughout preseason, Lin has already earned praise from a pair of Los Angeles Lakers legends.

Magic Johnson recently applauded the fifth-year point guard’s ability to create offense off the dribble:

Kobe Bryant, via the Orange County Register‘s Bill Oram, echoed that sentiment: “Jeremy makes a huge difference…creating shots for others. We’ve got somebody else who can penetrate, make plays for others and put pressure on the defense. It’s a really big difference.”

Going back to the days of “Linsanity,” the 26-year-old’s best attribute has always been his ability to collapse a defense. However, he has improved as a shooter. Last year with the Rockets, he set career highs in three-point percentage (35.8), three-pointers made per 36 minutes (1.4) and true-shooting percentage (57.2).

Especially while Nick Young is sidelined, the Lake Show need a consistent second option on offense behind Bryant. Lin, who has played well as both a scorer and distributor in the preseason, is now the clear candidate to fill that role.

Of course, while Lin is important to the Lakers’ success, the reverse is also true. If Lin wants to take that next step as an individual player, there’s really no better way to do it than spending an entire season in the same backcourt as Bryant.

Lin has already talked about learning from the 16-time All-Star, via Sports Out West’s Bob Garcia and Lakers Nation’s Serena Winters:

While news of Nash’s season-ending injury is disheartening, positives will emerge from it. A larger role for Lin is chief among those.

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Jeremy Lin Returns From His Ankle Surgery & Scores 15 Points

After a much anticipated late arrival, Jeremy Lin finally took the court in the Los Angeles Lakers loss against the Phoenix Suns.
In last night’s matchup, Jeremy Lin showed that he could prove to be the valuable asset that the Lakers require him to be. He scored 15 points coming off the bench and 11 of those points came in the fourth quarter. Even though his minutes on the floor were being managed thoroughly, he still made it a clear point that he has the potential to run the Lakers offense.
While on the floor, the Lakers had no problem executing their offensive plays. This does not mean though that it takes Jeremy Lin to help maintain their offense, but without a real point guard’s presence on the floor the Lakers (yes, even Kobe Bryant) end up taking bad shots.
As of right now, Steve Nash is plagued with his many back injuries meaning Lin will have to execute the offensive scheme for the Lakers. They may have Ronnie Price, who had 10 assists by the end of …

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Jeremy Lin Deserves to Start for Los Angeles Lakers over Steve Nash

Jeremy Lin was acquired by the Los Angeles Lakers as an insurance policy for starting point guard Steve Nash, but it has become clear through training camp and in the preseason that Lin deserves the starting job.

According to head coach Byron Scott, via Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times, the team is already considering starting Lin over Nash:

Lin has been dealing with an ankle injury of his own, but the 26-year-old point guard has missed just 11 games over the last two seasons. After averaging 12.5 points, 4.1 assists and 2.6 rebounds per game last year alongside James Harden and Dwight Howard on the Houston Rockets, the Lakers acquired Lin to add depth behind Nash and alleviate some of the pressure on the veteran.

Lin struggled in his first preseason game against Denver, missing all six of his field goals and finishing the day with just one point. He bounced back in his second game, though, and racking up 14 points, four assists and four rebounds.

On the other hand, Nash has already been dealing with back and hamstring injuries, according to Mike Trudell of Lakers.com, and pulled himself from Sunday’s loss to Golden State:

The problem for the Lakers is reliability. The team needs a consistent point guard who can lead the offense, and Lin is the better option at this point of their respective careers. Nash is 40 years old and played in only 15 games last season while dealing with injuries. After playing in only 50 games the previous year, Nash would be better suited for sporadic minutes off the bench.

Sitting a star like Nash won’t be easy, but Scott told Bresnahan and Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times about how he thinks the veteran will take the news if asked to be a role player: “I have no doubt in my mind that if I went to Steve and said tomorrow, ‘You know what, I’m going to start Jeremy and the games that you’re available, we’re going bring you off the bench,’ he’s such a professional that I don’t think it would be a problem whatsoever.”

The decision on which player is named starter should be based on who gives the team the best chance to win, not who had the most illustrious career. Los Angeles is trying to return to championship contention as soon as possible. As great as Nash was in the past, he is too injury-prone to carry the offensive unit throughout the 2014-15 campaign.

With players like Kobe Bryant, Nick Young and Carlos Boozer all looking for a point guard to find them when they get open, building a rapport with Lin as the starter instead of learning on the fly is the smart move for the coaching staff.

Nash’s possible switch to a backup role would also give the team a serious weapon off the bench. The less minutes Nash has on his legs, the longer he can stay healthy and remain a contributing factor to the team.

Lin would play the majority of the minutes each game, and Nash could come in and operate a dangerous second-team offense or even play alongside Kobe in a dynamic backcourt.

No one will ever doubt the skill of Nash when he is healthy, but his unreliability over the last two seasons can’t be ignored. The veteran will remain a valuable asset off the bench, but Lin should be the starter for the Lakers moving forward.

 

*Stats via NBA.com.

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Jeremy Lin Injury: Updates on Lakers Guard’s Ankle and Return

The Los Angeles Lakers dealt with plenty of injuries last season and the problems are already starting up again with new point guard Jeremy Lin.

Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times provided the latest details on the 26-year-old player:

The Lakers pass along quotes from Byron Scott, who described how Lin was injured:

The former Houston Rockets player was traded to the Lakers in July and is expected to have a big role on a squad that lacks too many experienced playmakers. He scored 14 points on 4-of-4 shooting with four assists and four rebounds in Thursday’s preseason game against the Golden State Warriors.

 

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Jeremy Lin’s Mature Mentality Will Lead to Success with Los Angeles Lakers

Jeremy Lin has been going about his business in a very mature fashion since joining the Los Angeles Lakers over the offseason. He’s doing and saying all of the right things, and that’s already translated into noticeable improvement on the court.

This trend sets the fifth-year veteran up for success.

Lin has been a solid shooter over his NBA career. However, he’s struggled with turnovers and has plenty of room for improvement on the defensive end of the court.

He’s taken the opportunity to address these areas under the tutelage of Kobe Bryant.

During an interview with Bleacher Report’s Kevin Ding, Lin spoke about how he’s going about soaking up knowledge from one of the Association’s all-time greats:

[Bryant is] such a normal guy away from everything…he’s human. …

He cares about all the little things. It’s like the stuff that he talks to me about, I didn’t ever think about it. Little stuff. I’m, like, “Oh, OK. That’s one way to look at it.” He’s challenging me to expand my perspective.

I think that’s really important, and that’s something that I love doing. It’s a blessing that he’s here in the same locker room.

On the court, Bryant has been a successful on-ball defender, and he’s taken a mentor role with Lin in that regard.

Bryant told Ding that he has some high expectations for Lin’s future on defense. “Jeremy’s biggest challenge, which he loves, is that I’m really going to challenge him to be a great defensive player—because he can. He has the speed, he has the length, he has the size. He has never had to take on that challenge, but I think he can be a great defensive player,” he said.

Lin has always had the tools to succeed on both ends of the court, but now his maturity and willingness to learn put him in position to truly take advantage of his natural ability.

Basketball Forever tweeted something that probably served as nice motivation as well:

Through two games this preseason, the effects of Lin’s determination to improve have been visible.

While he struggled from the floor against the Denver Nuggets, missing all six of his attempts, his ability to distribute was well on display, as he racked up 10 assists.

He turned things around against the Golden State Warriors, hitting all four of his shots, accumulating 14 points and adding four rebounds and four assists.

Possibly the most important statistic through those two contests is that he only committed a total of two turnovers through 49 minutes of on-court action.

Here’s a look at Lin against the Warriors:

Howard Chen of CSNHouston summed up Lin’s performance through two games:

Lin was deemed the backup to Steve Nash against the Warriors, and instead of becoming upset with his role, he used the scenario as another opportunity to gain knowledge from another well-rounded NBA veteran.

During an interview with Arash Markazi of ESPNLosAngeles.com, Lin explained that he’s learning from Nash by watching the veteran and asking plenty of questions. Nash spoke of his willingness to mentor Lin as well:

I’m here to help him out however I can. If I can help give him advice or help with his game, then it will be a pleasure for me. I think he’s got a lot of potential, and he’s already kind of cemented himself in the league, so whatever he needs from me I’d love to help and I’d love to see him really succeed.

Most young players will never get the opportunity to learn from one NBA legend, let alone two. Lin is doing the right thing by engulfing as much information as he can handle from Bryant and Nash, and we should expect to see the results in his play this season.

This is great news for a Lakers team looking to rebound from a disastrous season.

Not only are Bryant and Nash healthy, but an improved Lin will warrant more time on the court in relief of the veterans in an effort to keep them healthy throughout the year.

We may have only seen the inception of Lin’s true potential.

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Jeremy Lin Has Become Not Only Kobe Bryant’s Teammate, but His Pupil

LOS ANGELES — On the one hand, they are two global icons.  

On the other hand Thursday night at Staples Center, they were just teammates talking on the bench, almost no one noticing them furthering a new relationship that is meaning more and more on a private level to both mentor and student.   

Kobe Bryant, knees encased in ice packs and done testing his body in the Los Angeles Lakers‘ second exhibition game, was using the fourth quarter to do what he was doing even before training camp began: teaching Jeremy Lin to think and play more like him.

Bryant looked out on the court, using both hands to show Lin what he saw—and what he envisioned could and should be happening. Lin listened intently. A few minutes later, Lin felt comfortable enough to joke with Bryant, leaning his left forearm into the 16-time All-Star as they spoke and Bryant cracking up at what Lin said.

Joining the Lakers via a trade with the Rockets in July, Lin said he found in his early interactions with Bryant that he is “such a normal guy away from everything…he’s human.”

Lin has learned a lot since then.

“He cares about all the little things,” Lin said. “It’s like the stuff that he talks to me about, I didn’t ever think about it. Little stuff. I’m, like, ‘Oh, OK. That’s one way to look at it.’ He’s challenging me to expand my perspective.

“I think that’s really important, and that’s something that I love doing. It’s a blessing that he’s here in the same locker room.”

The thrust of Bryant’s lessons might surprise you.

Defense, where Bryant has let his game steadily fall off in recent seasons, and before that where he used to be mocked by Phil Jackson with jokes about Bryant not deserving his All-Defensive Team honors, is what Bryant is teaching Lin.

“Jeremy’s biggest challenge, which he loves, is that I’m really going to challenge him to be a great defensive player—because he can,” Bryant said. “He has the speed, he has the length, he has the size. He has never had to take on that challenge, but I think he can be a great defensive player.”

Lin has been derided for his defense, and he lost playing time last season in Houston to Patrick Beverley, who is one of the NBA‘s most dogged perimeter defenders. Lin’s effort, however, was not in question, which is why Bryant is confident that his guidance—or his tricks in fouling without being called for fouls—will really work for Lin.

When they worked out together over the summer for a week in Anaheim, Bryant was already issuing his challenge about defense. (It’s no coincidence that Bryant and Lakers coach Byron Scott were in semi-daily contact, and one of Scott’s core beliefs is that his lead defender must make the opposing point guard work hard for space.)

Bryant knows this. Too often he has roamed too freely on defense, but his greatest successes at that end have undoubtedly come while defending whoever has the ball, head-to-head.

Lin said defense is “pretty much all” he and Bryant discuss on the court.

“It’s just nice to have somebody who’s pushing me and helping me, teaching me the tricks,” Lin said. “It’s also nice when he’s one of the best to ever do it, even on the defensive end.”

Bryant has received All-Defensive Team honors 12 times, yet his Scott-inspired defensive activity in the exhibition opener Monday night was jarring in its intensity.

On Thursday night, Golden State opened the game by zipping the ball around with good movement before Klay Thompson nailed a three-pointer—but Bryant closed out on defense harder than he has on a shooter since about 2003.

As the Warriors‘ talented scorers continued to ring up points with ease, Bryant barked to his teammates: “We’re making it too easy!”

Bryant had three steals to go with his 15 points in 23 minutes Thursday night and declared himself “more than comfortable” in his comeback from Achilles and knee injuries. He said he is on board if Scott decides to sit him out of one of the remaining six exhibition games (perhaps one of the back-to-back games Oct. 21 vs. Phoenix or Oct. 22 vs. Portland).

He knows, however, that there won’t be much winning during this comeback unless the Lakers’ defense improves dramatically from the Mike D’Antoni era. Bryant was so disenchanted with what happened last season that he headed off to France for his wedding anniversary as the Lakers (including an injured Steve Nash and Pau Gasol) finished up their season by traveling to Utah and San Antonio.

Bryant, as he promised he would, has locked back in since.

Although the stigma of being a bad teammate has been difficult for Bryant to shake, Lin isn’t the only teammate Bryant has mentored.

Last season Bryant harped on Nick Young to become more professional. Even though they rarely were on the court together, Bryant was vocal from the sideline and practically forced Young into studying game footage in his down time.

Bryant continues to push Young, saying the other day: “In order to be ‘Swaggy P’ and for people to pay attention to ‘Swaggy P,’ he has to put in some work on the court. Or no one’s gonna give a s—.”

And this summer, small forward Wesley Johnson—a notorious underachiever in his four NBA seasons, including his inconsistent first Lakers season—met Bryant for 7 a.m. workouts most of the offseason in hopes of molding Johnson into a defensive wing-stopper for the Lakers.

People are still paying attention to Lin for his epic splash in 2012. Although he is expected to come off the bench behind Nash for the Lakers, Lin’s popularity is such that he might still be Bryant’s partner in the Western Conference’s starting backcourt for the All-Star Game. (Lin finished fourth in voting last season among all West guards behind Stephen Curry, Bryant and Chris Paul.)

Lin is determined to establish the game behind the name in his first Lakers season. Ten years younger than Bryant to the day, Lin aspires to be playing in the NBA when he is Bryant’s age, 36.

No doubt Lin will learn a lot from Nash about point-guard offense in the coming year, but for now the emphasis is on defense from Bryant.

Where is your off hand? Is that the best angle to take? How can you fake as a defender? Are you taking this as a challenge?

“Really small things you’ll never see,” Lin said.

Bryant’s first text message to Lin, who was half-asleep in Shanghai at the time in July, was: “We have a lot of work to do.”

By the time this training camp began, Lin put it this way: “Kobe has been very, very, very kind to me.”

Ten days into the preseason, class is in full session.

“He’s pushing me and he’s demanding a lot from me, and he’s definitely taken on a mentorship role for me on the court,” Lin said. “That’s something I don’t think I’ve had in my previous four years in the league.”

 

Kevin Ding is an NBA senior writer for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter, @KevinDing.

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Jeremy Lin Says Nick ‘Swaggy P’ Young Has to ‘Earn’ His Nickname

Nicknames have to be earned.

At least that’s how new Los Angeles Lakers guard Jeremy Lin feels. 

In an interview with Lakers Nation, Lin says Nick Young needs to “earn” the “Swaggy” moniker.

“He’s super cool, but I just find it ridiculous that everyone comes in and just calls him ‘Swaggy.’ It’s like, you’ve got to earn it or something and maybe he has, but you know, I just got here.”

[Lakers Nation]

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Los Angeles Lakers Offer Jeremy Lin the Ideal Stage to Redefine Career

Jeremy Lin has yet to stop bouncing around the NBA.

Even after his meteoric ascent through the public eye, Lin’s reward has come in the form of dollar signs and notoriety rather than consistent, constant value. His career is still best defined by that captivating spate of dominance with the New York Knicks. Those moments—fleeting yet fulfilling—still hang over his head and professional reputation, the scourge to a should-be Cinderella story.

And that’s where the Los Angeles Lakers, Lin’s new team, come into play.

Where Lin was still a novelty with the Houston Rockets and Knicks, he has the opportunity to be something more in Los Angeles. 

The stage isn’t set for him to play savior or rival the expired flashes that put him on the map. Instead, for the first time ever, Lin finds himself in a situation that allows him to be him without regard for feats and fame of days past. 

 

Back to the Basics

Pick-and-rolls helped fuel Lin’s rise to on-court prominence.

Almost 43 percent of his total offensive possessions came within pick-and-rolls during his breakout 2011-12 campaign, according to Synergy Sports (subscription required). That was Mike D’Antoni’s offensive system—pick-and-roll, pick-and-roll, pick-and-roll—and it was perfect for him.

Remaining in attack mode gave Lin more control. It played to his strengths as a penetration-proficient point guard while opening up the floor for those around him.

That’s the Lin general manager Daryl Morey invested in that summer.

That’s the Lin Houston killed.

Acquiring James Harden ahead of the 2012-13 crusade changed everything. Lin, despite being the point guard, was no longer that primary ball-bearer. Operating alongside Harden forced him off the rock, relegating him to more spot-up duty than he was suited to play.

“What got Jeremy Lin into the league and made Linsanity happen in the first place is that Lin is aggressive and successful attacking on the pick-and-roll, and he can finish around the rim,” NBC Sports’ Kurt Helin explains. “Last season he shot 57.8 percent on drives, second in the league only to LeBron James.”

Nearly one-quarter of Lin’s offensive possessions came as a standstill shooter in 2012-13. He shot just 38.7 percent in those situations. 

Fast forward to last year and things changed even more. Lin attempted more field goals as a spot-up shooter (272) than pick-and-roll ball-handler (237).

Never mind that his conversion rate for the former began trending in the right direction. Or that his three-point shooting in such situations (38.4 percent) could be construed as impressive. Playing off the ball isn’t where Lin is most comfortable. He’s better off as a dual threat at the very least—someone who vacillates between dominating and sliding off the rock. 

Finding that balance wasn’t possible in Houston, beside Harden and even Dwight Howard.

It is in Los Angeles.

“I just got to by myself and play my game,” Lin said while promoting his Adidas shoes in Culver City, per the Los Angeles Daily NewsMark Medina. ”Everything else will take care of itself.”

So by that he means…

“Maybe I should just keep attacking the basket more,” he explained. “In the NBA, you have to be great at something. For me it’s attacking the basket. I’ll just continue to work on that and shore up other areas of my game.”

Regardless of whether he starts or comes off the bench, the Lakers offer more of an opportunity for Lin to do what he does best. 

Aside from Kobe Bryant, the team doesn’t employ any one player who requires a specific number of touches or who absolutely, positively, without exception, must control the ball.

Next season’s Lakers—who aren’t built to defend in the slightest—will look to score. Lin’s ability to slither through the heart of opposing defenses will be a welcomed commodity and, inevitably, something that permits him to shoulder more responsibility in familiar fashion.

 

A Mentor He Never Had

Steve Nash will be of value to the Lakers in 2014-15. It doesn’t matter if he plays, hitting shot after shot, dropping dime after dime, contributing without interruption from age or injury. He can help the Lakers by helping Lin. 

Of all the things Lin’s tumultuous journey has included, the guidance of a seasoned, All-Star, Hall of Fame-bound point guard isn’t a luxury he’s enjoyed. Guidance of any kind has been scarce. Neither Carmelo Anthony nor Harden or Howard were ever lauded for their acceptance and appreciation of Lin. 

All that changes now, alongside Nash, who Bleacher Report’s Kevin Ding describes as a willing mentor: 

Nash has long been a strong supporter of Lin, who came to L.A. last summer to take part in Nash’s charity soccer game.

Now teammates, the two already have begun forging a partnership, both working out at the Lakers’ training facility Monday and again Wednesday to get started. The first full-team training-camp workout isn’t until Tuesday.

There are so many things Nash can teach Lin as he enters his 19th—and likely final—NBA season.

Defense isn’t one of them. But that’s what Byron Scott and basketball books on tape are for in this case. Nash can help Lin just about everywhere else.

Shooting? Check. Nash is the only player in league history with more than two 50/40/90 seasons to his name. Of the 63 players to attempt at least 3,000 three-pointers over the course of their career, Nash—who has jacked up 3,939 to date—leads them all with a 42.8 percent knockdown rate.

Playmaking? Check times two. Nash ranks third all time in total assists (10,335), behind only Jason Kidd and John Stockton. As our own Adam Fromal unearthed during a lengthy study, Nash has also piloted six of the league’s 12 best offenses ever. This is to say he’s the face of offensive preeminence. 

Leadership? Nash has that covered too. Winning two MVPs and finishing in the top 10 of win shares since 1996 counts for something. 

And so, too, will his input. Lin isn’t a complete point guard by any means. There are holes in his game on the offensive end—shooting, for starters—and Nash, whether he’s playing alongside Lin or directing him from the sidelines, can help.

 

Opportunity Unlike Any Other

More than anything else, the Lakers are handing Lin a second chance.

Los Angeles isn’t Houston. It’s not New York. It’s different.

Usually that difference increases the burden of expectations. The Lakers are typically expected to win more than most teams. Championships are the standard. Playoff berths and near-misses aren’t consolations; they’re frowned upon.

But not anymore.

Few expect the Lakers to be anything more than a lottery team flirting with respectability on the back of a surprisingly healthy and productive Bryant. Talent evaluation stands to take precedence over everything else. Scores of players will sport Lakers purple and gold, their contracts expiring, their future in Los Angeles tied to next season’s performance.

Lin is among those playing for their next contract. And while uncertainty can be detrimental, it’s a chance for Lin to redefine himself and his game. 

No more Linsanity. No more adapting and adjusting to Harden and an offensive system built for the exact kind of point guard he is not. No more trying to establish himself as an integral part of a championship machine.

Most players are given grace periods; Lin was not. 

Thrust into the spotlight two-plus years ago, Lin never left. The light never dimmed.

A 20-something-game sample size was used to idealize him. When the shock wore off and reality set in, Lin was left to fight a losing battle in Houston, never once getting a legitimate opportunity to find his niche and develop accordingly.

Now on a Lakers team promising that opportunity, Lin is finally where he belongs, a fad and novelty no more. The lights are still bright and the stage still big, but upon season’s end—whether he’s part of Los Angeles’ long-term plans or not—he’ll have found clarity that, for once, isn’t attached to the unfair bar he’s long been measured against.

 

*Stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference and Synergy Sports (subscription required) unless otherwise cited.

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Jeremy Lin Continues His Offseason Video Series by Imagining His Endorsements

Los Angeles Lakers point guard Jeremy Lin has spent his offseason showing off his video-making skills. Now, he’s giving advertisers a chance to see what his video skills can do for them.

Lin daydreams about what it would be like to serve as the face of Dos Equis, Beats by Dre, State Farm and more in this “Lindorsements” video, complete with a nice cameo from Steve Nash.  

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