Jeremy Lin has only been at the HSS Training Center for three weeks, but he’s made an impression on his head coach and teammates.
Kenny Atkinson, of course, knows Lin. Their collaboration on the Knicks during Linsanity is the stuff of New York hoops legends. Atkinson believes in Lin’s potential as a player ... and as a leader.
Asked at Tuesday’s press conference what more he expects from Lin, Atkinson was quick to respond. “Leadership.”
“I think he’s excited about it. He came off the bench in Charlotte and did a heckuva job, but this is a different deal. Now, you’re the quarterback, the Eli Manning,’’ Atkinson said Tuesday. “There’s a different level of responsibility. It’s new to him.”
Indeed, Atkinson said that the morning of the press conference, he and Lin had a conversation about the subject.
“We just had a talk today about what can he do to become a better leader,” Atkinson said. “It’s a heck of a challenge, but he’s prepared for it, I think it’s the right time of his career and I think he’s smart enough and will grow into being a better leader as this thing goes on.”
Now, teammates, veterans and young players alike, are saying all the right things about Lin as a leader. For the most part, it’s been about helping improve other Nets’ games.
“It’s amazing, man,” said Sean Kilpatrick told the Nets website last week. “Being able to have a guy like that with the teams he’s been with before and all the knowledge that he knows now and being able to text him every day and get some type of advice or pick his brain a little bit.
“I think that’s something that helps me and my game and him having the same type of confidence in me that I have in him I think that’s something that’s really helped me. It’s been great. He’s been a great role model when he came to this team and also a great vet with this team. Who knows where it will take off from there.”
Isaiah Whitehead, who will see back-up minutes behind Lin, says he’s already learning from him.
“Jeremy shows me things in practice, and just about using screen-and-rolls. When I’m guarding him, there’s certain things he does, I just try to pick up on that,’’ Whitehead told The Post last week. “It’s just his overall game. He’s a great player in the league, and I’m going to try to pick his brain.”
And Brook Lopez, who averaged 20.8 points despite some bad point guard play, is enthused as well about the guy who almost played with at Stanford. (Lin played his high school ball in Palo Alto, home of Stanford. But Stanford didn’t offer him a basketball scholarship. So it was off to Harvard.)
"I've watched his career --we're obviously the same age-- I've really tremendously enjoyed the way he plays, enjoyed his game,” he told the Nets website. “He has such a high basketball IQ and again, he's one of the high character guys we're looking for to help lead this team, especially this group of young guys. I think he's really someone who I think can get out and lead this team from the point guard position and get things going for us."
Lopez of course is going to be asked to lead the Nets as well.