The Brooklyn Nets is not championship material coming into the National Basketball Association’s newest season. They may not even be a playoff contender as admitted by the players themselves. They simply want to take the league one game at a time given their refreshed core with general manager Sean Marks and coach Kenny Atkinson. Nevertheless, the Eastern team continues to draw much attention with Jeremy Lin’s sort-of homecoming to the New York area.
Atkinson and Lin go way back during the time when the latter first attained mainstream popularity with “Linsanity” in 2012 and both were associated with the New York Knicks. When the hype subsided, the Harvard graduate jumped from team to team until Atkinson, who nabbed the position of the Nets’ head coach, took him back and started grooming him to potentially be a franchise player.
“It’s everything. It’s why I’m here. It’s what’s going to allow me to feel empowered to be more successful and to help this team be more successful. I trust him a lot,” Lin stated in a preseason conversation with Newsday referring to his relationship with his current coach.
Part of Atkinson’s new gig, however, would include a bit of a fine-tuning with how the 28-year-old athlete operates inside the court. Despite decent showings in his past teams, Lin was never really a starter. But with the Nets, he gets the No. 1 position. Alongside the responsibility of carrying the team, a strong mental game would also be pivotal as the task of how plays are going to be executed would most likely always land on his lap.
Atkinson’s faith in Lin will play a huge role on how he would be the coach’s extension on the court, something that is quite different from his usual shooting guard mentality.
“What Kenny might see in me as a player is something we’re going to continually discuss because, at the end of the day, I obviously want to play the way he wants me to play. He knows, too, that I have to go off instinct,” Lin explained, on how they are planning to tackle his new role for the Nets. “We talk a lot, so, I’m not worried about it, and we have the type of relationship where he can say anything to me and vice versa.”
Catch Lin and Atkinson in their debut performance with the Brooklyn Nets as they go up against the Detroit Pistons on Nov. 2, 7: 30 p.m. ET.