There’s so much talk about Brooklyn’s backcourt and how it will work with D’Angelo Russell and Jeremy Lin sharing the rock at the 1. It has been one of the reasons for optimism and one of the team’s biggest mysteries too since Russell was traded to Brooklyn.
After the first preseason game, Lin told reporters that he is “Definitely a 1” and that Russell is “Definitely a 1” as well. In an interview with NBA TV, Russell said people should see the two of them not as 1’s or 2’s, but as “attacking guards.” The Nets are hoping no matter what they call each other, the duo can work — and should work — together. But the two weren’t statistically in sync in the preseason.
They didn’t play bad together, by any means. In fact, the Nets struggled when neither was on the court, allowing a 31-5 run when they both checked out in the final game against Philly. There have also been signs of chemistry between the two, but there needs to be more balance, more consistency from the duo.
It’s such a small sample size of four (preseason) games so judging the two of them at the point is a bit premature. That said, preseason has been a solid indicator of how this team wants to play in the regular season.
If they don’t, others will need to step up. Depth will be crucial.
Here is the game-by-game breakdown:
Game 1 (at Knicks):
Jeremy Lin: Eight points, three assists and three turnovers on 2-of-9 shooting.
D’Angelo Russell: 19 points, four assists, one block and one steal on 7-of-14 shooting.
Game 2 (Heat):
Jeremy Lin: 16 points, four assists on 5-of-7 shooting (also: 5 turnovers).
D’Angelo Russell: Nine points on 4-of-14 shooting with three turnovers.
Game 3 (Knicks):
Jeremy Lin: Seven points and seven assists on 3-of-12 shooting (1-of-7 3-pt).
D’Angelo Russell: 16 points, seven assists and three steals on 7-of-14 shooting (also: four turnovers).
Game 4 (Sixers):
Jeremy Lin: 14 points on 4-of-7 shooting in 23 minutes.
D’Angelo Russell: 24 points on 9-of-20 shooting.
Russell led the Nets in scoring this preseason with 17 points on 43 percent shooting in 24 minutes per game. His 35 percent from deep should improve as he gets acclimated to the system, but his most impressive feat? Two steals per game. It showed his ability to get his hands in the passing lanes and create offense from scrappy defense. It appears he’s bought in.
More impressive were his per 36 numbers: 25.7 points, 6.0 assists, 3.4 steals and an equal number of turnovers, 3.4.
Lin averaged 11.25 points on 40 percent shooting and an impressive 38.8 percent from deep. He turned the ball over three times per game, which again, should change as the Nets get more acclimated with one another.
That’s 16.7 points, 5.5 assists, 4.1 rebounds but less than half a steal ... and nearly five turnovers per 36.
Interesting enough, the one game they played consistent as a small unit, the Nets lost. As noted, when Atkinson subbed them both out, Philadelphia ran away with the game. The Nets need at least one of the two out there ... at all times
Kenny Atkinson has used an interesting tactic to give them each minutes with the starters and with the second unit, both as point guard and shooting guard. One point guard will typically stay in longer, sub out, and then the other will come in. This is the cycle for the first three quarters and we assume they’ll close out together in the fourth.
Atkinson made it clear that he wants at least one of them on the floor at all times.
“I think you’ll see it during the season,” Atkinson said when asked about switching off Russell and Lin at the point. “I’d like to have one of those guys at the point the whole game. That would be pretty nice.”
“I’m not gonna say that’s definitely how it’s gonna play out, but in my mind, keeping D’Angelo or Jeremy at the point pretty much the whole game.”
We’ll monitor the situation once the season gets started, but entering the season it’s important for “Brooklyn’s Backcourt” (TM) to find some consistency... together.
Still, this isn’t necessarily a bad problem for the Nets to have. And what happens if it doesn’t work? Expect Caris LeVert to make a duo a trio.