All in on Russ-Lin
I’ve been trying to making the hashtag #AllInOnRussLin a thing ever since the Nets acquired D’Angelo Russell early in the trade period. Some people are more hesitant of the pairing including Lin himself:
“For me, I’m pretty comfortable in either position. I’m not a pure two by any means. Definitely, more pure one. But I think I will have plenty of opportunities to play into that… And I think the same for [Russell]. I think he’s a pure one, as well, but he can play two.”
Russell was a bit higher on the two working things out:
“If we’re on the floor together, we make things happen. I think it will be a balance throughout the year figuring out what we need to bring to the table when that happens.”
In terms of being on the floor at the same time coach Kenny Atkinson sees it a different way:
“I’d like to have one of those guys at the point the whole game.”
From a small sample size that seems to be how things will play out. In their outing against the Knicks on October 4, the two guards were on court together for 9 minutes and 39 seconds despite both of them playing 20 minutes each in total.
Despite Russell’s willingness to overtake a game ala Westbrook style, Russ-Lin fit perfectly into Atkinson’s pace and space system. Last year the Nets were number one in pace and this preseason they’ve continued that trend, being second only to the young guns out in Philly. Russell has been a significant part of that too being 6th in Pace for players this preseason, where fellow frontcourt teammates DeMarre Carroll and Trevor Booker join him in the top 10. Another thing Coach Kenny would be happy with is Russell’s activity on the defensive side. He’s been 4th in deflections per game (3.3) behind only James Harden, Josh Richardson and Victor Oladipo and has averaged 2 steals per game to go with it. One thing he’ll have to become more accustomed to is playing off the ball more. D’Angelo has been 4th in usage percentage (31%) this preseason behind only Anthony Davis, Carmelo Anthony and Dennis Schroder. In comparison, last year, the team’s focal point, Brook Lopez, had a usage rate of 29.2% while Lin was second with 26.6%. Expect Russ-Lin to be the top two in that category this season hovering around the 25-30% range.
As for the all-important three-point shot, the Nets have been 3rd in 3P% in a short space of time at 40.2%. Jeremy Lin has been a very solid 38.5% from that range, with Russell shooting slightly less at 35%. Despite the small sample size those numbers are likely to be indicative of how things will play out for the two from the perimeter this season. Both players have also averaged a respectable 4 assists a game with Russell showing some real promise in that area. We’ll let Lin sum up the preseason hype so far:
“Preseason is in a lot of way fool’s gold. The real character and mindset and demeanor of everybody comes out in the regular season.”
For now though, Nets fans should be excited by the prospect of a starting backcourt with a diverse skillset. Lin has underrated speed, is a great finisher under the rim and is more than apt as a spot-up and three-point shooter. Russell has unlimited upside as a shooter and passer, and while he lacks the pace of many in his position he makes up for it with a poise and balance beyond his years. If D’Angelo can make the leap ‘KeSean’ wants then don’t be surprised if you see Jeremy Lin on the trading block so the team can garner some more assets as they still don’t have their own first round pick until next year. Lin and Atkinson may be tempering expectations but I’m #AllInOnRussLin.