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The Nets’ other ‘rebuild:’ Jeremy Lin’s body

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Brooklyn Nets

Jeremy Lin spoke for 16 minutes at Thursday’s “baggie day,” the end-of-season packing day where players assess where they’ve been and ... hopefully ... where they’re going. He had a lot of say after spending his season in Burnaby, British Columbia, where as he noted it wasn’t just about rehab. It was about a new approach to his game; to his body.

“It’s definitely disappointing,” Lin said of his missed season while talking to the media at the Nets’ HSS training center but quickly moved on to how he feels about next season. It’s not about motivation, so much, as it’s about proving himself as a Brooklyn Net after two miserable, injury-ridden years.

“Honestly I can’t remember a time in my career where I haven’t been equally as motivated as I am today. Like, I’ve never wavered in my motivation or what I wanted to accomplish or my belief in myself. Those type of things are pretty steady. So I’m equally motivated. But if I achieve something or do something great with this team, I’ll appreciate it more – if that makes sense – because of what I went through. But I won’t be any more motivated.”

Of course, last season’s hamstring injury and this year’s patella tendon rupture have deprived him of an opportunity. The Brooklyn experience hasn’t been what Jeremy Lin had envisioned. He’s played only 37 games of a possible 164 dating.

Now, after spending time at Fortius Sport and Health, he believes he’s fulfilled his promise, made last November, “to build my body from the ground up.” It’s not just about rebuilding his body — and he looks jacked. It’s about his approach.

“Maybe that’s what I’m most excited about,” Lin said of his new approach. “It’s even harder for me to stay on schedule because I’m not just worried about the knee. At every level of ability to be more dynamic, I’m not just looking at whether my knee will hold up. I’m looking at whether I have done enough to completely change preexisting movement patterns.”

Lin says he’s looking at everything down to his shot, the way he defends, runs, cuts, very closely.

“It won’t look different to the eye, or on TV any differently,” continued Lin. “But it will be very different in terms of how I do it, and where I move from and what muscles I’m using and what tendons and joints I’m not using – I definitely learned more about science and anatomy than I ever thought I would. But I’m excited and I feel like I’m moving better and it’s going to help my game.”

Lin, in some ways, is remaking his game, which he insists will make him better, faster and more efficient. While saying he’s on schedule with his knee — ready for training camp, Lin is also reprogramming his muscle memory, which is another challenge he’s tackling on the road to his return.

“The only hard part is I have to effectively undo 29 years of movement,” he said. “Just, like, how did I hurt my knee in the first place? It’s probably by using it too much, which means certain muscles weren’t firing appropriately, or weren’t strong enough to fire. I’m also doing it for other things, as well. Like, any time I move they’re looking at how I’m moving. (I think to myself) ‘Am I doing it right?’

“There’s principles that make a lot of sense intuitively: You want to move from your core, you want to reach, you want to push, you want to make sure you’re sinking into your hips, you’re using your strongest muscles on your body, you’re using your quads and your glutes, not your knees, basically, and things like that. There’s just a lot of movement philosophy behind what I’ve been learning.”

The next step for Lin is consistency. Lin has been working on adjusting his muscle memory to these new habits on a daily basis, he told the media. He also says that his idea to attack the rehab in this manner came from his time with the Los Angeles Lakers.

“Well when I was with the Lakers, (Steve) Nash was out there,” he recalled. “And I saw a lot of what he was doing, and I tried to do it but I physically couldn’t; whether it was lack of mobility, lack of stability or lack of strength. It was one of those three in many different areas of my body. So I always said I wanted to work with Rick Celebrini, but Rick was busy.

“But he opened Fortius and the Nets are completely – like, a lot of stuff that we do here is very much what is being done over there. That made it really easy. It wasn’t like a foreign language or anything; like, they just combined what the Nets had - all the preexisting data, what they saw – with Fortius wanted to see and what they saw from watching film, made a program and just grinded it out.”

Now, of course, the next question is what will Lin’s role be. It is a question mark. With the potential of D’Angelo Russell, the rise of Spencer Dinwiddie, and the general excess of guards, it’s tough to peg just where exactly Lin will be moving forward. He says he hasn’t tried to put much thought into that yet.

“I came here having the same role. I don’t expect it to change,” he said. “And if it does, it’ll be something we communicate over. But honestly, I’m not really even thinking that far in advance. I’m thinking about my health; I’m thinking about moving properly. And I have full confidence that if I’m doing that, everything will be…everything will make up for lost time, and we’ll see what I had envisioned my time in Brooklyn being.”

Lin also reflected on what he’s seen from afar of his Nets, who finished 28-54 this 2017-18 season. He noted several analytics that work in the Nets favor going forward, such as the fifth most improved point differential in the league and the second best improvement in wins among Eastern Conference teams. Eight more wins on a 20-win base is 40 percent.

“(We need to) continue to build on that offense,” he said. “That’s going to come with another year – but the guys fought, they worked so hard, they finished the season strong.

“We saw big strides in a lot of the young players – Spencer, Caris, Rondae and Jarrett kind of coming into their own, Jarrett. And then, DLo obviously went through a really up-and-down season. But maybe what’s a little bit lost is his ability to fight through it and make the most of whatever situation he was in – injured, coming off the bench, in a rhythm, playing great.”

The Nets like what they’ve seen so far. On Wednesday, Kenny Atkinson spoke about what he saw in a workout from Lin, that he could do all the drills. “Completely. Backpedal, sidestep, run, shooting.”

He did note none of the drills were contact and the Nets will take his rehab slowly.

“We’ve just got to be really super, super-cautious. We don’t want to rush this in April, May. But I was blown away at how well he was moving, and the stuff he did yesterday.”

(The Nets didn’t announce the NBA approval for Joe Tsai’s purchase of a minority stake in the team until after baggie day ended. Tsai has said Lin is his favorite player.)