Nine-year NBA veteran Jeremy Lin is on a path to returning back to the league, taking part in the 2021 NBA G League season as a member of the Santa Cruz Warriors.
The 32-year-old is no stranger to the G League stage, as he appeared in 21 games there during the early part of his career. More than nine years since his most recent appearance in a G League game, Lin took the floor as Santa Cruz faced G League Ignite in the first game of the season.
MORE: Who is G League Ignite?
After nearly losing a big second-half lead, Ignite held on to earn a 109-104 win over the Warriors but Lin impressed in his debut, finishing with 18 points to go along with five assists in 30 minutes of action.
How did Lin look? Here are a few takeaways from his performance…
1. Early tone-setter
Roughly six months after last seeing the floor in a regulation game with the CBA, Lin started in Santa Cruz's backcourt alongside Golden State assignees Jordan Poole and Nico Mannion.
Lin had his hand in a number of plays early on.
As the Warriors got out to an early 8-0 lead, Lin accounted for six of the team's first eight points, assisting a triple from Mannion, who would return the favour by assisting a triple from Lin. He finished the first quarter with 10 points on two triples and two free throws (worth two points each).
.@JLin7 gettin' buckets in this first half- NBA G League (@nbagleague) February 10, 2021
keep watching on ESPN2 pic.twitter.com/YUrp5Y5YJY
2. As composed as ever
There's something to be said about a player that has put in years of being a point guard at the NBA level.
Lin, along with Jarrett Jack and Bobby Brown, was one of the more seasoned backcourt veterans that took the floor in this game. It didn't take long to spot Lin's advantage, simply based on the ways in which he read and reacted while leading the offence.
The assist numbers are one thing but Lin remained composed in ball screen situations and displayed his innate feel for the game with the plays he was able to make in half-court situations, turning the ball over just once.
3. An efficient day in the office
Santa Cruz opted for a lineup of younger players to close the game, meaning Lin would finish the game with 18 points on 4-for-9 shooting in 30 minutes of action.
Two of Lin's four field goals came beyond the arc and he also knocked down four free throws which, per G League rules, are each worth two points apiece until the final two minutes of regulation and overtime. It looks much different than making eight trips to the foul line but it is the equivalent, as four different fouls resulted in Lin shooting free throws.
He was also one of just four Warriors to finish with a positive plus/minus, as the team was a plus-six during his minutes on the floor.
4. There's a spot for him in the league
At 32, Lin clearly has plenty left in the tank and checks all the boxes of the ideal backup point guard in an NBA setting.
Composed, efficient and savvy, Lin was playing very good basketball with the Atlanta Hawks in the 2018-19 season before struggling to find his role upon joining the Toronto Raptors for the team's title run.
Nearly two years later, Lin looks more than worthy of a look from a team in search of a veteran presence that's capable of playing minutes in a reserve role in the backcourt. The familiarity he's establishing within the Warriors system certainly adds an intriguing dynamic to the situation, as Golden State has needed more from its reserve guards as of late.
5. It's only one game
It doesn't feel like any of the above assessments of Lin's performance are overreactions but it's important to remember that it's only Game 1 of a 15-game season.
Just as Lin could take a step back and regress following this performance, he could also continue to find his rhythm and step into a more dominant role, especially given the potential roster instability with Warriors assignees potentially rejoining the NBA side of things.
Santa Cruz is in action two more times this week as it takes on the Delaware Blue Coats on Friday, Feb. 12 and the Westchester Knicks on Saturday, Feb. 13.
Stick with NBA.com for more updates on Lin's performance throughout the G League Bubble.
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