Given a combination of good health and strong free-agent recruiting, Jeremy Lin believes the Nets can go from having the worst record in the NBA to the playoffs next season. He recently expressed those sentiments in a Chinese-language interview with the website JD.com, which also is known as Jingdong.
Lin missed 46 games last season, all but one because of various hamstring injuries and a mild ankle sprain, and the Nets finished 20-62. But they were 13-23 in the games Lin played, including 10-12 in his final 22 games after returning to full-time duty following the All-Star break.
“I hope we can be very healthy next year,” Lin said, according to a translation of the interview that appeared on Slamonline.com. “I feel we can get into the playoffs . . . I only played [24.5] minutes a game this year. If I could play more, or if I didn’t get injured, I feel we have a chance of getting into the playoffs.”
The day after the season ended, Lin told reporters that he expects to be involved in free-agent recruiting, and he mentioned that several players on opposing teams had asked him during the season about playing for the Nets. He made it clear general manager Sean Marks and coach Kenny Atkinson have created a player-friendly environment that helped sustain the Nets through tough times.
“I have about five of my past teammates who already texted me, asking if I could recommend them [to Marks] so that they could be traded and play with us,” Lin said, according to the translation. “For players, the most important thing is for us to be happy inside. I know a lot of players on different teams [who] could be winning games, but they’re really unhappy.
“Last year, we didn’t win a lot of games, but our team was really close, and the coaches treated us really well. We kept passing the ball well; we played for each other. We were really happy for each other. Not every NBA team is like this. If you’re playing on a selfish team, I feel it’s really not fun to play with them. So, I think other players saw this, and hopefully, they’ll want to join us.”
Lin said he expects to spend considerable time working out with his teammates during the offseason in Brooklyn. Although he shot a career-high 37.2 percent from three-point range, he plans to practice his three-pointer with the goal of pushing his shooting percentage from deep to 40 percent because he believes that also will create more driving opportunities.
“This year, I didn’t finish at the rim as much,” Lin said. “Normally, I can finish at the rim at a high rate, but because of my hamstring, I was afraid to jump and take contact. So, I hope that next year I can get an automatic two points when I drive to the basket.”
At the same time, Lin also plans to work on his floater as a means of avoiding contact and possibly preventing injury. “As I get older, I don’t want to keep getting fouled and keep falling on the ground,” Lin said. “I don’t feel like that’s the best way to protect my body.”
Lin expressed his admiration for a number of top point guards, including Portland’s Damian Lillard, Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving, Golden State’s Stephen Curry, Boston’s Isaiah Thomas and Washington’s John Wall. But he said Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook would be his NBA MVP because he averaged a triple-double last season.
“I don’t know how many games I’ve played (405), but I’ve got only one triple-double,” Lin said. “(Westbrook) gets one every game or almost every game. I feel like that’s extremely incredible . . . We play 82 games a season, and sometimes, you get really tired. He has to expend so much energy to get triple-doubles.”
Lin also mentioned that he is in the planning stages of putting together his annual trip to Asia, including China, where he has business opportunities and makes several appearances. His parents are from Taiwan and he can speak Chinese, but he plans to take more lessons to improve his grasp of the language.
“Taking Chinese lessons is more difficult than practicing basketball,” Lin said. “I can practice basketball for three or four hours, but after taking 30 minutes of Chinese lessons, my brain gets tired.”