Jeremy Lin can score. Wherever he’s been — even inexplicably at the end of Byron Scott’s Lakers bench — no has argued that Lin’s penetration, ability to draw contact, and to finish aren’t elite-level NBA skills. The knock on his defense seems to have softened too. Lin himself has acknowledged early-career defensive troubles, but last year Charlotte coach Steve Clifford made it clear. “He’s a much, much better defender than people realize,” Clifford said.
People will get a better chance to realize this as Lin moves into a starting role. Lin’s main job as a reserve in Charlotte was to be an offensive catalyst, to impact the game with his scoring and passing. As a starter he’ll have a more balanced role, charged with steadier offensive production and more defensive responsibility. Lin ranked 20th in point guard defense in NBA Real Plus-Minus stats for 2015-16. (Not always easy to measure in Lin’s case, as he also played some shooting guard.) He finished at -0.18, three slots away from the + side which began with No. 17 Mike Conley at 0.08. If Brooklyn’s team defense can improve as Lin’s individual D has, Lin should be able to erase the minus sign. Eight of the top ten players on the list averaged more minutes than Lin last year.