Betting on the Brooklyn Nets: NBA Wagering Impact of Jeremy Lin Injury
The Gordon Hayward injury has received by far the most attention in the early part of the season. And it deserves it - both for the hideousness of the injury itself and the massive impacts on the plans of a conference favorite. The loss of Jeremy Lin for the year in Brooklyn's opener got less coverage, and the Nets certainly aren't anywhere near as good or relevant as Boston, but it still has a very significant impact on this team and how we have to perceive them as bettors. Here are six factors to consider when looking at what the loss of Lin for the year means for bettors:
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Russell has more responsibilities: The team's biggest splash in a busy offseason was the acquisition of D'Angelo Russell from the Lakers. He's technically a point guard, and he was likely going to play his share of the point with the Nets, but the ideal vision would have been a Lin-Russell backcourt with more of the primary ball handling duties falling to Lin. Russell has shown flashes in his time in the NBA, but he seems more suited to a role with less responsibilities. Hopes of offensive chemistry between the two guards were high, and things looked good when Lin was playing in the opener. With LIn gone, Russell will be playing more point, and he will be playing in a backcourt with players a little less creative than Lin. It's a long way from perfect. On the plus side, though, the Nets have an option to really see what they have in Russell and whether he is a long-term solution for the team.
Opens up room for a backlog at shooting guard: The team has a lot of wing type shooters. Caris Levert and Sean Kilpatrick can eat plenty of minutes effectively at point guard, and Alan Crabbe, who joined the team from Portland this offseason, can play in the backcourt or at small forward. A positive of the loss of LIn and the shift to Russell is it opens up time for those players. All three are reasonably talented, and with more playing time they could develop into more significant players.
Lin missed significant time last year: The good news, I guess, is that the team knows how to deal with playing without Lin because they did it a lot last year. He missed 46 games last year. The problem, though, is that the team was a dismal 7-39 when Lin wasn't playing and a dramatically better 13-23 when he was in action. The depth is much better this time around, and the team is expected to be improved significantly even without Lin. However, as easy as it has been at times to treat Lin like a bit of a punch line, there is no denying that he is an impact player with a clear role.
Coaching doesn't inspire: When a team loses a core player like this during the season, the coaching staff effectively has to reshape the team on the fly. They prepared for the season with the plan that Lin would play a lot of minutes, and during a lot of those he would be paired with Russell. Now that all changes, and the staff has to guide the team through adversity. There are a lot of guys that I would rather have at the helm in a situation like this rather than Brooklyn head coach Kenny Atkinson. Nothing against him personally, but he never played in the league and is in only his second year as a head coach. He has very little firsthand experience as a coach with winning at all, never mind in the face of this kind of challenge. It's not necessarily damning scenario, but if Atkinson proves to do a good job here then he will have changed the perception of me and many others.
Public expectations: The Nets had gotten better this offseason. They weren't going to be a good team, and the playoffs were almost certainly out of reach, but they were set up to be nicely respectable. This hurts in that regard a little in all likelihood. The thing is, though, that the general public seemed to be really slow to give this team any credit for that improvement. So, even if this team isn't as good without Lin as they might have been with him, there is still a reasonable chance that they will exceed public expectations and could offer some decent value - especially if Russell excels in the point guard role.
Cavs happy: No team is going to be openly happy about the injury of a player on another team, but on some level Cleveland is happier about this than most. They have Brooklyn's first-round pick next year from the Kyrie Irving deal, so the more impact the loss of Lin has, the better that draft pick gets, and the better off the Cavs are - especially if they have to face a life without LeBron next year and beyond.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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