The comeback is back on track.
After missing Wednesday’s Santa Cruz Warriors game with a back injury, Jeremy Lin returned to the SeaDubs lineup on Thursday and turned in yet another stellar performance in the NBA G League bubble, scoring 27 points on 50 percent shooting (4-of-8 from beyond the arc) with seven assists to boot.
A day after his injury brought into question if Lin could stay healthy enough to play the majority of the month-long G League season, he played in a way that begged the question if he’ll be picked up by an NBA team before the bubble ends.
The truth, of course, lies somewhere in the middle.
And it should be noted that absolutely nothing is straightforward in the G League.
But a third of the way through the minor-league Warriors’ regular season, here are three reasons why Lin deserves an NBA call-up… as well as three reasons why it might not happen:
Pro: Deadly from downtown
Lin has been dynamite from beyond the arc in the bubble, and that’s a huge boost in his effort to get back into the league.
It’s one thing to be a deep-bench point guard — a guy who can run the offense and provide competency and order in a pinch — it’s a whole other thing to be a guy who can come into games and knock down shots.
The most important thing any non-center role player can do in this era of basketball is knock down 3-pointers. Lin is currently shooting 48 percent on six attempts per game.
That’s next-level and it’s going to give him an extended look from scouts and NBA front offices.
Pro: Better defense
No one is going to accuse Lin of being a lock-down defender, but he has shown competence across the board on that side of the court, and an uncanny play-making ability as well, picking up eight steals and three blocks in five games.
The competition level is important to remember — Steph Curry isn’t out on the floor with him — but when you consider the negative defensive scouting report on Lin, it’s good to see that he’s been arguably an above-average defender in the G League.
Pro: Bounce back
Lin’s injury history is long and trying. The guard believes it’s the main reason he’s not in the NBA right now.
The injury history is also the biggest threat to his G League effort being a fruitless enterprise.
But the fact that he came back from missing Wednesday’s game and posted another strong performance is great news for Lin. If he can stay on the court and continue to play well, his missed game will be forgotten.
Con: Man vs. Boys
Lin has turned in a pair of outstanding performances, but it’s hard to evaluate G League showings. For instance, Warriors’ sophomore Jordan Poole had 37 points Thursday against the Fort Wayne Mad Ants. He was inarguably the best player on the court.
That might lead to you believe that Poole has a chance to play well at the NBA level. Perhaps this stint in the G League is what will spark that.
But Poole played in the G League as a rookie, and yet he was still sent down again this year. It’s fair to question if he can play at the NBA level.
That’s the competition Lin is going up against.
One could view good play against younger athletes as a positive, but at the same time, Lin should be wrecking these kids.
What’s the curve for Lin’s grade? No one knows, but at the moment, he exists in that aforementioned gray area. He’s not yet undeniable, and that means, despite good play, he might not be called up to one of the few available NBA spots.
Lin has been a bit sloppy with the ball this season, turning the ball over 18 times in five games. Some turnovers have been really tough to watch unfold.
The guard does have a 2-to-1 turnover to assist ratio — good, not great — but coaches will expect a veteran player to take better care of the ball.
NBA teams looking for a depth point guard will not be willing to put up with turnovers. No one is expecting a third point guard to win a team a game, but front offices and coaches will not want the kind of turnovers Lin has put on film lately — those are the kind that lose games.
Con: The injury bug hasn’t been fully squashed
As I mentioned before, if Lin can stay healthy for the rest of the G League season, he can reasonably tell NBA teams that he’s squashed his injury bug, despite missing a game for the SeaDubs.
But another missed game could be curtains for his NBA dreams — at least for another year.
Lin is up against preposterously high standards. There will be some NBA teams that write him off merely because he has already missed a game in the bubble. But a second missed game — or worse — and it won’t matter how well Lin plays. The best ability is availability.
Contributed by local news sources