Watch Kevin Durant Yell at Jeremy Lamb to Give Him the Ball

NBA teams are constantly trying to get the right matchups on offense. So when Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant found himself guarded by the much smaller Matthew Dellavedova of the Cleveland Cavaliers, surely his teammates got him the ball?

Wrong.

Watch Durant’s reaction to Jeremy Lamb not passing to him in the video above.

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Why It’s Time for Oklahoma City Thunder to Give Up on Jeremy Lamb’s Future

The Oklahoma City Thunder have been waiting for Jeremy Lamb to finally live up to the hype. Rather than continue to tread water with their inconsistent shooting guard, it’s time for the team to move on.  

Lamb is a former No. 12 overall pick and was one of the key pieces in the 2012 trade that sent James Harden to the Houston Rockets. By now, he should have solidified his position in the backcourt with All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook or at least show signs of improvement. 

However, a month into his third season, the 22-year-old has been a disappointment. He failed to win the starting shooting guard position in the preseason. When injuries forced him into the lineup, there have been bright spots like his 24-point outing against the Detroit Pistons on Nov. 14. Unfortunately, those moments have been few and far between. 

This year, Lamb is averaging 12 points per game and shooting 40.7 percent from the field (including 39.6 percent from three). Those would be decent numbers for a fourth or fifth option, but with the roster short-handed due to injuries, he should have used this opportunity to show signs of development. 

Just look at what not having Westbrook or Kevin Durant around has done for Reggie Jackson’s numbers (19.5 points, 7.5 assists, 5.3 rebounds, 41.5 percent from the field). Granted, Jackson is a better player, but he’s also an example of someone who saw a chance to emerge and took it.

Furthermore, here’s how Lamb stacks up against some of the guards taken after him. 

A potential split would work for both parties. It would allow the team to streamline its guard rotation while also providing the UConn product a chance to develop with a team that believes in what he brings without him having to look over his shoulder. 

 

No Confidence, No Consistency 

You don’t need to be a psychology major to figure out Lamb has confidence issues.

When Lamb is feeling good, you get stat lines like this one in a 97-82 win against the Utah Jazz on Nov. 26: 21 points on 7-of-8 shooting (3-of-3 from downtown), four rebounds and three steals in 24 minutes. 

“Jeremy came in and gave us a good game,” head coach Scott Brooks said, per Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman. “Obviously he scored a bunch of points, but he competed on the defensive end. … He earned his minutes tonight.”

When his mind is clouded with doubt, you get the guy who failed to make a field goal in the team’s 91-86 loss to the Golden State Warriors on Nov. 23. Lamb clanked all six of his shots, including one from behind the arc, and played just 12 minutes. 

The problem for the Thunder is that the latter version of Lamb seems to show up more often than the former. Throughout his career, he’s had some bright moments, but he doesn’t sustain those stretches long enough to build momentum. 

In the end, that lack of confidence causes a vicious cycle. If he’s out of sync, he’s not productive. If he’s not productive, the team will have less faith in him. If the team lacks faith, it will become harder for him to find his groove. 

 

Three’s a Crowd

One of the biggest obstacles standing in the way of Lamb’s development is the lack of a defined role. He’s not the Thunder’s starting shooting guard. That job belongs to the team’s perimeter pit bull, Andre Roberson. 

Is he the next-best guard off the bench? No. That’s Reggie Jackson, whose breakout performance this season mandates increased playing time both alongside and in place of Russell Westbrook. 

Is he the team’s best shooter in the backcourt? Lamb statistically holds the lead right now, but it’s a safe bet that Anthony Morrow will eventually earn that distinction. Morrow’s a career 42.7 percent three-point shooter, while Lamb holds a 35.7 career mark from long range. 

Lamb isn’t a starter. He isn’t the sixth man, and he isn’t a specialist. So, what is he? The answer could be trade bait. Jon Hamm of The Oklahoman pitched the idea of moving the third-year guard:

The Thunder could choose to do Lamb a favor, much like they did with D.J. White and Byron Mullens, and send him to another team where he can attempt to prove his worth. Such a move could resolve rotation conflict and net the Thunder a future asset.

With Roberson entrenched as the team’s shooting guard of the future and a proven sniper in Morrow as the backup, Lamb is the odd man out in Oklahoma City. Even if he goes on a spirited run in the near future, he’s not going to unseat Roberson in the starting rotation.

Traditionally, Scott Brooks has always chosen a fine defender over a good scorer. It’s why Thabo Sefolosha was in the starting lineup for so many years. It’s also why Roberson got the nod to replace Sefolosha before the season. 

A change of scenery to a team that will make his development a priority is the only way Lamb will reach his true potential. He’ll never grow with his minutes fluctuating on a game-by-game basis in Oklahoma City, where the focus is on winning a championship.

It should have never reached this point with Jeremy Lamb and the Oklahoma City Thunder.

By now, he should be a vital cog on a championship contender. Instead, he’s a potential bust stuck in limbo on a team that doesn’t have the patience to develop him. 

The blame for Lamb’s failures falls on both the player and the team. Oklahoma City never fully committed to the crown jewel of the biggest trade in the franchise’s history, and Lamb never gave it a reason to do so. 

Instead, the club continued to add depth by bringing in guys like Morrow and Roberson. That should tell you something about where it sees Lamb in its big picture. The end game now is to cut its losses and admit defeat.

What was once considered a possible bright spot for the team’s future has now become a mistake of the past.  

Note: Unless otherwise noted, all stats current as of Dec. 1 and are courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com.

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Jeremy Lin Learning Valuable Lesson from Kobe Bryant About NBA Survival

Jeremy Lin has had both good and not-so-good games during his first month with the Los Angeles Lakers. And, with encouragement and tough love from Kobe Bryant, the 26-year-old point guard is learning about survival in the NBA.

He is also learning how to frame his own quiet opinion alongside Bryant’s bombast.

Baxter Holmes for ESPN LA recently wrote about a loss to the Denver Nuggets—one that featured a hail of missed shots by Bryant during crunch time. Lin’s summation of the misfires showed respect while also positing a possible remedy:

He’s a tough shot-taker and a tough shot-maker and he’s a superstar and sometimes you’ve got to give him that freedom to go and be who he is and do what he doesand sometimes you’ve got to find a way to keep the flow and stuff.

And then there are those times when it’s simply better to dump the ball off and let a legend go to work.

On Sunday night, the Lakers got just their fourth win in 17 tries, beating the Toronto Raptors in overtime, 129-122. Lin had trouble finding the bottom of the basket, shooting 3-of-11 from the field.

But Bryant went off for a triple-double with 31 points, 12 assists and 11 boards and also became the first player in NBA history with 30,000 points and 6,000 assists.

For Laker fans, it was a rare bright moment during an abysmal season. For Lin, it was an invitation to a basketball clinic.

The California-born Asian-American’s story is familiar to anyone with a basketball pulse—he went undrafted out of Harvard and was signed by the Golden State Warriors, appearing in 29 games before being waived. He was subsequently picked up by the Houston Rockets and released once again, all before appearing in a single game.

And then came an explosive run of 35 games with the New York Knicks in 2012 and the worldwide phenomenon known as Linsanity, the heights of which he has yet to recapture. It was a magical time in basketball—an unknown point guard went from a blip on the radar to the league’s next great hope, overnight.

But during the offseason, Houston came calling again—offering a $25 million poison pill contract that ballooned to nearly $15 million in the third and final year. The Knicks decided not to match and the Rockets now had a worldwide sensation in their pocket, less than a year after waiving him.

Lin’s reunion in Texas produced uneven results, however—he went from a starter in 2012-13 to coming off the bench the following season. The great hope had become much less than that, reduced to a role player as James Harden and Dwight Howard arrived and took over the spotlight.

This past summer, the Lakers took the final and most expensive year of Lin’s contract off Houston’s hands. L.A. also got a first- and second-round draft pick in the deal.

It might have been viewed as an opportunity for Lin to reclaim his fame. But during his introductory press conference, per Lakers.com, one curious remark was seized upon by the media and has been endlessly repeated: “I’m not trying to recreate ‘Linsanity’ or be that phenomenon that happened in New York. I just want to be myself more than ever.”

Just two years after trademarking his signature term, Lin was seeking to disavow it, attempting to move past a singular moment in pop culture.

Now with his fourth NBA team in five seasons, it is understandable Lin would want to form a more grounded and sustainable identity. But Los Angeles is no market for shrinking violets. If the glare of the spotlight burns bright in the Big Apple, it can be just as harsh in Hollywood.

And then there’s the reality of playing alongside Bryant—a superstar who, despite being in his 19th season in the league, is still as fierce, relentless and challenging to play alongside as anyone in the game today.

But despite his demanding ways, the longtime Lakers’ leader routinely mentors other players. At the start of the regular season, Bleacher Report’s Kevin Ding explained the nature of Bryant’s hands-on role, with Lin and others:

Still, it’s one thing to learn at the hand of the master during the summer and training camp, and a whole new ball game once the regular season begins.

That’s when Bryant’s intensity turns up a giant notch.

New arrivals in the land of purple and gold often make the mistake of blindly deferring to No. 24—it seems a reasonable thing to do in the face of such legendary heroics. Yet, being a wallflower will raise the Mamba’s ire rate even higher—he has little use for players who won’t push back.

After a Halloween night loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, Bryant made exactly that point in regards to Lin, per Holmes of ESPN:

You have to be able to assert yourself, especially on a team that I’m playing on — especially on a team I’m playing on. Because I don’t want chumps, I don’t want pushovers, and if you’re a chump and a pushover, I will run over you.

It’s important for him to have that toughness and to say, ‘I believe in myself. I can step up, I can make these plays, I can perform.’ I think that is very, very important.

How does a new point guard—whose strengths lie in ball-handling and attacking the basket—co-exist successfully with a guy who’s not only the league’s leading scorer, but also has the highest usage rate, and takes far more shots than anyone else?

It’s about not losing heart when you have been yelled at on the court, and about stepping up after being called out.

Kobe demanded Lin own it, and since then, there have been tangible signs of improvement. You can see it in his confidence and aggression, and it shows in his numbers as well.

Lin’s field-goal and three-point shooting are at career highs—47.4 percent and 36.5 percent, respectively. He has also averaged 15.6 points over his last five games—even considering his off shooting night against the Raptors.

But as much as mentoring is about maximizing potential, and as desperately as the Lakers would like to string some wins together, there are other valuable lessons to be learned as well.

Lin may have experienced a few months of overwhelming attention in New York City, but Bryant has been under the white-hot glare for 19 years now. He has been at the top of the mountain more than once, and has tasted unyielding scrutiny and speculation through it all.

Now, in Bryant’s twilight years, the cacophony of criticism is at its loudest—he’s too old, overpaid, shoots too much and nobody wants to play with him.

If any of that bothers the five-time NBA champion, he won’t readily show it. Bryant knows the process has to outweigh perception, and that’s what he’s teaching through actions and words.

Lin’s learning to play through the noise, and to stand up for himself. He’s learning being himself must include both giving and taking, and the meek shall not inherit the game of basketball.

He is learning about survival in the NBA, from one of the game’s longest and most successful survivors.

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Jeremy Lin Can’t Find the Words to Explain Lakers’ Terrible Play

If Jeremy Lin can’t summon the words, there’s not much to say.

There’s no explaining the Los Angeles Lakers‘ game plan, which boils down to spray ‘n’ pray with Kobe Bryant and aggressive ball-watching on defense.

Lin looked on as Bryant chucked up 34 shots in a 136-115 blowout loss to the Golden State Warriors at the Staples Center. The Lakers guard tried to parse out the loss to reporters after the game, but even he didn’t possess the poetry of language to properly explain the drubbing.

Lakers beat writer Shahan Ahmed (h/t BroBible’s Kyle Koster) uploaded a Vine of Lin’s attempt at encapsulating Los Angeles’ impressive awfulness. He just couldn’t do it.

“I don’t…it’s…you know,” Lin said. “Uh…I don’t know, man.”

Lin may still be there right now, double-clutching pronouns in an empty locker room.

He can’t say, “We’re terrible at defense, Kobe doesn’t trust us, and our offensive strategy is inefficiency personified.”

Lin can’t say that. It’s not in him.

Bryant, of course, had plenty to say about the Warriors jamming 74 points down his team’s throat in the first half.

“They came out and knocked down shots and put us in a hole pretty quick,” Bryant said, per The Associated Press (h/t ESPN). “… I’d rather get guys involved early. That’s always the intent. But when you go down 10-12 points in the hole, man, I’ve got to try to keep us in the ballgame at some point.”

Bryant finished the game with 44 points. Lin finished with zero points, two rebounds and another affirmation that this year is going to be the longest year of his career.

 

Follow Dan on Twitter for more sports and pop culture filigree.

 

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Jeremy Lin’s Path Back to Stardom Clear…If He Can Meet Everyone’s Expectations

LOS ANGELES — Beaten down by yet another loss without a victory, and now in the Lakers locker room with a sore right foot after the ankle sprains that limited his training-camp reps, Jeremy Lin faced the question without expression.

It was very Pau Gasol-like, really.

The question was biased, a leading request by a media member wondering how inspirational it felt to be Kobe Bryant‘s teammate during a game in which Bryant tries so hard (by shooting so much), ultimately in vain. It was the sort of question that Gasol, for all his respect toward Bryant and how he forged an ideal cooperation with him, would quickly grow tired of answering—and would reply with politically correct enough words but dead eyes.

Yet such is life as a supporting cast member for Kobe, almighty and heroic to the death in the eyes of many fans and even some reporters.

And Lin, amid his open proclamations that Bryant has taken him under his wing like no one in the NBA ever has and his clear confusion so far in finding his place with the Lakers, still quietly bristled at the slight.   

“I give my all, as well,” Lin answered Tuesday night after the Lakers dropped to 0-5 following their second loss to the Suns this season. “I respect the fact that he gives his all, and we all know that he wouldn’t be who he is if he didn’t give his all. But I give my all, and I know a lot of guys in the locker room give their all, too.”

It was an evenhanded, strong, stubborn answer.

It’s the kind of lion’s pride in a humble package that made Gasol a worthy partner for Bryant. It’s the sort of self-assurance that prompts Bryant to already believe in and invest so much in Lin.

“I’ll go out there,” Bryant said, “and I’ll leave it on the floor, leave everything, and compete and be relentless and not be fearful of criticism or fearful of not playing well and missing shots. And that’s the same way I want the guys to play—Jeremy, in particular. Because he’s a really good player.”

Bryant tacked on one more “because” for Lin. The key one.

“He’s just getting used to playing with that eff-it attitude,” Bryant said.

That statement might sound odd considering one of the knocks on Lin in Houston was that he played so out of control. In fact, Rockets coach Kevin McHale said last week that Lin was “ultra-aggressive” and “plays real hard” and “sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.”

“He goes 90,” McHale said, “and he hopes the cops aren’t around.”

Well, McHale’s stop signs the past two years are among the limitations to which Bryant is referring. Bryant has said repeatedly how Lin can’t play “looking over his shoulder” the way he has during professional struggles that have far outweighed that single month of Linsanity.

But considering Bryant is a world-renowned (and oft-ridiculed) expert in the field of unswerving self-confidence, you can trust he has a pretty keen eye for the fire within. He clearly sees something in Lin.

And to be honest, it’s what Lin sees in himself.

He says his parents would say he has been hardheaded his whole life—and he must have been to overcome the obstacles in front of him to get this far.

After feeling the burden and pressure to meet others’ demands in Houston, Lin has said repeatedly that this is the season when he’s going to reclaim himself.

He would also add that he can’t do it alone. It’s not just Bryant sharing the ball with him; it’s Jordan Hill wanting jump shots, it’s Carlos Boozer moving to give Lin a passing option at the rim, and it’s Wesley Johnson guarding top perimeter players well enough that Lin doesn’t have to.

Lin basically didn’t play on Bryant’s team in practice at all the first week-and-a-half of training camp. That’s how much the Lakers hoped Steve Nash would run the first unit so Lin could attack and create foremost with the second unit.

Much has already changed since the start of camp.

Tuesday night saw Lin score six consecutive points—all on free throws—giving a weary Bryant rest time to stoop under his own basket and gather himself to hit his next two jumpers. Down the stretch, though, there was another possession full of indecision: force the ball back out to Bryant, who most certainly will come get it, or have Lin take care of it himself?

Bryant is crusading for Lin, like Bryant’s all-time-fave teammate Derek Fisher would, to be confident enough in himself and his decisions not to defer. Bryant has also said Lin can be a great defensive player.

All the prodding comments from Bryant don’t center on Boozer, the two-time All-Star and his longtime friend. Or Johnson, alongside whom Bryant trained all summer to coach up. Or Julius Randle or Nash, obviously out for the season.

Bryant has chosen Lin to challenge, and in a way it’s an honor. In another way, it’s just the sort of heavy-handed demands that some players don’t want and can’t handle if they don’t have enough self-respect inside.

Ultimately, the Kobe influence is beside the point anyway. It is on Lin, who believes deeply in individual sacrifice for the greater good of the team, to want to re-establish his individual status more than even Bryant wants him to.

Lin, 26, is more disappointed by what didn’t happen for him in Houston than most people know. But it allowed him to fail and grow without the blinding New York spotlight, and it has brought him back to his beloved California and his birthplace city for a fresh start.

So far, not so good.

“It’s been more frustrating that I expected,” Lin said. “I haven’t done what I need to do, and I take full responsibility for that.”

Tons of people are wearing his jersey again, and he’s still swamped by Asian media, but this is the season when Lin expected meaningful change.

And when that change doesn’t come, it leaves a distinctly empty feeling after you’ve been filled with that much love and admiration—and more important, accomplished something as powerful as he did in New Yorkand know you want something more right and real now.

 

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

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Kobe Bryant Praises Jeremy Lin, Warns Lakers Not to Be ‘Chumps and Pushovers’

Kobe Bryant may be the most assertive scorer the NBA has to offer, but he’s pleased with the aggression Jeremy Lin showed down the stretch of the Los Angeles Lakers‘ 118-111 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers Friday night.

Lin displayed some guts by drilling a go-ahead three-pointer with 4:39 remaining in the fourth quarter, and Bryant praised the Lakers’ new point guard for taking the lead while sending a message to his teammates regarding their attitudes moving forward, according to ESPN.com’s Baxter Holmes:

You have to be able to assert yourself, especially on a team that I’m playing on — especially on a team I’m playing on. Because I don’t want chumps, I don’t want pushovers, and if you’re a chump and a pushover, I will run over you. 

It’s important for him to have that toughness and to say, ‘I believe in myself. I can step up, I can make these plays, I can perform.’ I think that is very, very important.

After scoring a combined 13 points in his first two games donning purple and gold, Lin displayed a fiercer attitude when matched up against Chris Paul

In 35 minutes, Lin scored 17 points on 7-of-13 shooting (3-of-6 from three) while dishing out nine assists and pulling down four rebounds. 

Lin’s relative breakout against the Clippers came just one night after Bryant implored the floor general to operate as an offensive facilitator. 

Underwhelming tallies of six points and one assist in a 20-point loss to the Phoenix Suns drove Bryant to provide Lin with a public vote of confidence when it came to running the show. 

“He’s used having to look over his shoulder all the time and playing with players who like controlling the ball a lot,” Bryant said, according to the Los Angeles Daily News’ Mark Medina. “I told him that’s a big urban legend of me. I want to score. That means coming off of picks, catching and shooting. You handle the ball, and you run the show.”

Considering Lin represents one of L.A.’s few viable off-the-dribble creators, Bryant will need all the support he can get from his point guard in the weeks and months ahead. 

And after Lin shot 50 percent on shots demanding two dribbles and 45.1 percent on shots that required between three and six dribbles last season, according to NBA.com, look for Lin to help pick up some of the offensive slack as a mid-range shooter and dribble-drive maestro. 

With Julius Randle out for the season, Nick Young sidelined due to thumb surgery and Carlos Boozer relegated to face-up and post-up duties, the onus is on Lin to step up and provide the Lakers offense with a sorely needed second dimension. 

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Jeremy Lin Has Clear Path Back to Stardom with Los Angeles Lakers

Hopefully, Jeremy Lin brought his appetite to Hollywood.

With playing time and production both available in abundance, the table is set for the former phenom to feast during his first season with the Los Angeles Lakers.

In some ways, that opportunity exists for nearly every player on this roster. Consider that chance the perk of suiting up for a team fresh off one of the worst seasons in franchise history.

But Lin’s shot at a breakout campaign—or a bounce-back one, depending on whether his magical Linsanity run was long enough to qualify as such—is stronger than the rest. That is a reflection of a number of different factors, not the least of which are the Lakers’ depleted point guard ranks.

L.A. had hoped to have a two-headed beast at the position.

Veteran Steve Nash was earmarked for the starting gig by head coach Byron Scott in September, per Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News. Lin, acquired in an offseason trade from the Houston Rockets, figured to be staring at major minutes as both the first guard off the bench and the backup to the oldest active player in the NBA.

The Lakers had other options beyond those two, but none of them looked very promising. Veteran Ronnie Price, a hard-nosed defender with a career 37.8 field-goal percentage, arrived last month on a non-guaranteed contract. They picked up Jordan Clarkson on draft night, but the 22-year-old is a combo guard with a still-developing jump shot.

From every angle, this was going to be a two-man rotation. But the nerve issue in Nash’s back, which limited him to only 15 games last season, ended his 2014-15 campaign before it even started.

Just like that, Lin’s rotation spot went from significant to substantial. And, somehow, it seems to be growing by the second, just like the team’s injury report:

Needless to say (though Scott said it anyway), Lin will start for the Lakers on opening night, per Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times. What remains to be seen is how often, if at all, Lin will actually leave the floor.

Even before Nash was removed from the picture, Lin was preparing to a play a pivotal role in this offense. As a constant threat to find scoring chances for himself and his teammates, he was one of the few players on this roster capable of relieving some of the defensive heat felt by Kobe Bryant.

“Jeremy makes a huge difference creating shots for others,” Bryant said, per Bill Oram of the Orange County Register. “We’ve got somebody else who can penetrate, make plays for others and put pressure on the defense.”

Lin’s game is all about pressuring a defense. He can get a little ball-dominant at times, but he needs to play that way to be most effective.

Playing off James Harden and Dwight Howard with the Houston Rockets, Lin was too often miscast as a complementary spot-up shooter. While Lin deserves some credit for bumping his three-point percentage to a career-high 35.8 last season, he was simply making the best of a less-than-perfect situation.

“Playing off the ball isn’t where Lin is most comfortable,” wrote Bleacher Report’s Dan Favale. “He’s better off as a dual threat at the very least—someone who vacillates between dominating and sliding off the rock.”

During his one-season stay with the New York Knicks, fewer than 19 percent of his two-point field goals came off assists. That number climbed above 27 in his first year with the Rockets, then spiked to 32.4 last season.

Houston never saw the player responsible for that global craze in 2012, but he was never in position to leave that type of imprint. His field-goal attempts dropped during each season with the Rockets (12.2 per 36 minutes his first year there, 11.6 the next), and his player efficiency rating was dragged down with them (19.9 in New York, 14.6 over his two years in Houston).

Limit Lin’s involvement, and you limit his effectiveness.

That’s what makes his move to L.A. so intriguing. He won’t have the same problems he did in Houston, leaving open the possibility for him to recapture what looked like such a bright future not long ago.

Even in a reduced role, he impressed during his time in Houston.

Last season, he had the sixth-highest field-goal percentage on drives among players with at least 500 such shot attempts, per NBA.com’s SportVU player tracking data. Over the past two years, he’s been one of only 14 players to average at least 15 points on 44 percent shooting and six assists per 36 minutes.

Granted, those aren’t quite mind-numbing statistics, but they look pretty good for someone who was playing well outside of his comfort zone. The Rockets tried to fit his square-peg talents into their round-hole offense for a while before eventually just letting him decide the shape of their second team.

The Lakers are absent a go-to scorer outside of the 36-year-old Kobe Bryant, who sandwiched six regular-season appearances in between Achilles and knee injuries last year. Microwave scorer Nick Young has the talent to fill that role some nights but could be out two months after undergoing surgery on his right thumb.

With a defense that appears overly generous on paper, this offense will need reliability. That could be hard to find on a frontcourt featuring a past-his prime Carlos Boozer, an unproven Julius Randle and the to-be-determined tandem of Jordan Hill and Ed Davis.

The Lakers need both safety and excitement. Lin should be able to supply both if he’s allowed to play his game.

“In the NBA, you have to be great at something,” Lin said, per Medina. “For me it’s attacking the basket.”

An aggressive Lin has been a productive Lin.

He took at least 12 shots in 17 different games last season. In those contests, he averaged 19.2 points on 46.5 percent shooting. In his 25 starts with the Knicks two years back, he put up 18.2 points on 44.5 percent shooting.

He has the ability to orchestrate nightly assaults on the stat sheet. With these Lakers, he could also have the situation and system needed to carry out those attacks with regularity, especially once he learns what his coach wants and his teammates need out of him.

“I just want to figure out how I can bring my strengths and apply it best to this system,” Lin said, per Medina. “It’s kind of like a chess match in learning and figuring it out.”

This should be the chance at stardom Lin never received in Houston nor looked like he deserved before that wild year in The Big Apple. Everything seems to be in place for him to make his move back up the NBA’s pecking order, with both the Hollywood backdrop and L.A.’s need for a long-term answer at point guard hinting at a longer shelf life than his previous meteoric rise.

Of course, none of this comes with any guarantees. He still needs to walk the tightrope between scorer and playmaker while ensuring that the biggest serving is always left for Bryant to devour. The Lakers have prospects to develop and veterans to appease, all mouths that Lin will be expected to feed.

The degree of difficulty is high, but so too is the potential prize.

All signs point to Lin being cleared to send his star back into basketball’s orbit, but only if he is ready to launch.

 

Unless otherwise noted, statistics used courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com and NBA.com.

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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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