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┬áKobe 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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Jeremy Lin, Steve Nash Forging Partnership That Could Alter Lakers’ Season

LOS ANGELES — The Lakers‘ season is going to be a success only if Kobe Bryant delivers redemption.   

And only if a long list of other things happen, too.   

Atop that list may be the only other two Lakers who have been dominant in the league, and the only two who can give this team an identity besides Kobe: Steve Nash, a two-time NBA MVP, and Jeremy Lin, who for three weeks became a phenomenon that transcended the league and the entire sports world.

If they can provide a superior level of point guard play at a time when the Lakers enter the season expected to be quite inferior at that key position, the team will have a foundation.

For all the attention that Byron Scott rightly intends to place on upgrading the team’s defense, that end is not going to be anything special. The Lakers had better be a consistently stellar offensive team if they’re going to beat people, and the only way that happens is if Nash and Lin combine to orchestrate an attack the beautiful way they have before.

Interesting intangibles are at work here, too.

Despite how poorly things have gone for Nash as a Laker, there are those in the organization who would vouch for him as an even better guy than Pau Gasol. If Nash can have success here at the age of 40 after all his injury setbacks, he’s going to appreciate it to the nth degree—and imbue the Lakers’ locker room with a positive energy the team desperately needs if it is to overachieve.

Lin, 26, has been a well-appreciated teammate on his clubs in much the same way, being unassuming despite his outsized fame, truly wanting the best for those around him. Given the ardent interest throughout Southern California in Lin as an Asian-American, Lin having success would turn into its own fireball of momentum for the Lakers to ride.

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.

It’s journalistically irresponsible these days to string together the three words “Nash is healthy,” yet he sort of is. He has shaken the nerve root problem that for a year-and-a-half inevitably zapped him from his back to his knees and prevented him from moving with any freedom.

If Nash’s body holds up this time, a scenario may unfold wherein Bryant might not have the most melodious redemption song of this Lakers season.

Bryant is set to play at least one more season, but Nash is planning for this to be it—and he has been such a nonfactor as a Laker that it’s jarring, but fair, to witness how little spark there is over his impending farewell.

If his body allows, Nash still can be a magical player. In recent pickup games with Lakers teammates, Nash has been pain-free and tossing around that old fairy dust.

He has long since learned to thrive without physical advantages, and him simply doing what he does would change what everyone else does on the Lakers.

For example, Jordan Hill would become a weapon when you combine his putbacks with his one other offensive skill: rolling hard to the hoop the way Dwight Howard refused to do when fleetingly paired with a gimpy Nash. Carlos Boozer is going to settle for jumpers at this point in his career, but he might actually make them via perfect pick-and-pop execution from Nash.

The Lakers remain hesitant to count on Nash, but this much has changed since the offseason began: They are now at least indulging hope when it comes to him.

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak went about building this roster almost as if Nash didn’t exist, because the nerve damage hadn’t abated to this extent and everyone knew that Nash could aggravate it just by rolling out of bed any morning.

That threat remains, which is why the Lakers signed journeyman point guard Ronnie Price on Wednesday with Nash, Lin and rookie Jordan Clarkson already on the team. Price, though, is only training-camp insurance as the Lakers see how Nash holds up.

In the Lakers’ ideal world, Nash and Lin would play so well that Scott is forced to play them together, with Bryant, at crunch time—and the coach patches the defense together somehow.

But it’s not unrealistic that Nash carves up defenses and makes Bryant’s life much easier with the starting unit while the coaches try not to overextend either old man. The second unit is where the Lakers envision playing faster and being triggered by Lin storming through the paint to dish—most often to Nick Young and Julius Randle—or finish himself, as he does so well on the drive.

Lin’s best days came under the brightest lights, remember, and he arrives in L.A. without all the pressure that followed him from New York to Houston. While Nash is enjoying a rediscovered physical freedom, Lin stands at his healthiest mentally in a long time—poised to tap back into his love for the game.

The Lakers will need that, and him, to help Nash and Bryant steer the committee of big men Scott will play this season.

Despite no Mike D’Antoni to help space the floor for Nash and Lin, as team icon Magic Johnson would surely attest, the point guard runs the show more than the coach.

The Lakers’ goal is not just to win again.

It is to be the Lakers again.

That means winning with star power.

So when it comes to the surprises the Lakers need sprung this season, this is where it starts, in the backcourt, where two players who have blown fans’ minds before have a chance to do so again.

 

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

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Los Angeles Lakers Starting Steve Nash over Jeremy Lin Would Be a Mistake

Given that training camp has yet to begin for the Los Angeles Lakers, it may be a bit early to be predicting mistakes. But a decision to start the chronically injured Steve Nash over 26-year-old Jeremy Lin could be just that.

Mark Medina for the Los Angeles Daily News recently sat down with new Lakers coach Byron Scott at the team’s El Segundo practice facility and wrote, “Scott will spend training camp figuring out his starting lineup, which he says will currently feature Nash, Bryant, Carlos Boozer and Jordan Hill.”

Nash, who will turn 41 in February, played just 15 games last season due to chronic back issues compounded by nerve root irritation from a leg fracture that occurred October 31, 2012.

It has been two years of trials, tribulations and setbacks for the legendary point guard, and it’s difficult to see how he can sustain a starting role at this point in his career.

Meanwhile, the Lakers traded this summer for a much younger player who could prove to be part of a long-term plan.

Los Angeles absorbed the remainder of Lin’s salary when it acquired him from the Houston Rockets. Shouldn’t L.A. want to make the most out of this one-season test drive?

Lin will earn $15 million, of which only $8 million will count against the team’s cap. Nash will earn $9.7 million. Each player is entering the third and final season of their respective contracts. 

In other words, each comes with a substantial price tag, but youth offers a more hopeful upside for a team in the formative stages of a rebuild.

All this isn’t to say that Scott’s mind is completely made up before camp even begins.

Lin’s time in the NBA has been relatively brief— just 215 games over the course of four seasons. And despite the halcyon days of his brief Linsanity moment in the sun with the New York Knicks, the guard’s game is still a work in progress. Per his Instagram account:

This offseason I have been working really hard on my defense, footwork, and explosiveness. A huge component that I needed to work on is my core stability (having good posture, being able to stay low in my defensive stance, and being able to stay balanced while absorbing contact). Only 19 days left till training camp…can’t wait to get back on the court!

This sounds like someone who’s serious about improving. There will also be the matter of a new offense to learn. Coach Scott will meld components of both the Princeton and the triangle systems, each of which is heavily reliant on moving without the ball.

Lin has the bulk of his career ahead of him, and it would behoove his chances for a lengthy run in Los Angeles to embrace that which is new and different to him. He’ll get help from Kobe Bryant, who already knows the tricks of the triangle offense, which shares numerous principles with the Princeton.

Writing for Basketball Insiders, Alex Kennedy notes that Lin is ready for a fresh start and also eager to learn from the best:

As he continues to expand his game, he’ll have two Hall of Fame guards alongside him in the backcourt, which should do wonders for his development. Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant have been injured in recent years, but Lin is hoping to pick their brains and learn as much as he can from his legendary teammates.

And if the former wunderkind is concerned about who starts and who doesn’t, he certainly isn’t expressing it. When Kennedy asked if he believed he’d proven his worth as a starting point guard, Lin answered:

I don’t care to figure out what the answer to that question is anymore. Before I [had] kind of like a chip on my shoulder, things to prove, people to prove wrong. Now, I’m just like when I get out there I’m going to play and everyone’s going to formulate their own opinion and it’s going to change every single day. I don’t think my own opinion of myself has ever changed. I still believe I am capable of that. But that’s just me, that’s if you ask me. I’m not really worried about what everyone else is thinking anymore.

Lin is ready to become a more fundamentally sound player. That will appeal to his new coach. He’s also eager to learn from Nash, saying, per Lakers.com, “Now I have this opportunity. I can’t wait. I still remember him in Phoenix and he was 20 and 10 every night. I look forward to learning quite a few things from him.”

The future Hall of Famer can teach plenty about the most effective angles, about flawless footwork and the art of the perfect pass. And Lin, with his fresh legs and energy, would fit nicely in the starting lineup alongside veterans like Bryant and Boozer.

Nash, meanwhile, could provide a steadying influence as the senior member of the bench mob, leading a high-scoring unit that will likely include Nick “Swaggy P” Young, Xavier Henry, Julius Randle and Ed Davis.

Just imagine—the third all-time assists leader with his uncanny court vision feeding Swaggy P and Randle for easy buckets. Nash can nail his own timely shots as well—possessing one of the purest strokes in the game and a .428 career percentage from behind the arc.

The issue of who should start and who should come off the bench is not about who should or should not play. It’s a question of what most benefits the team—both now and moving forward.

Everyone who has ever been a fan of basketball wants to see Nash go out on his own terms and go out successfully.

But wouldn’t helping Lin to be a better player and bolstering an already potent bench be preferable to struggling against time and a bad back to hold onto a starter’s role and minutes?

Ultimately, youth cannot be denied in sports. To everything there is a season, and this is Jeremy Lin’s time to start and to succeed.

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