Brooklyn Nets: Lack of Point Guard Depth a Problem?

Nov 4, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Isaiah Whitehead (15) puts up a shot against Charlotte Hornets forward Spencer Hawes (00) in the first quarter at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 4, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Isaiah Whitehead (15) puts up a shot against Charlotte Hornets forward Spencer Hawes (00) in the first quarter at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports /

The Brooklyn Nets will be without point guard Jeremy Lin for at least two weeks. The problem is, Lin is far from the Nets’ only injury in the back court. Is the point guard depth a problem in Brooklyn?

The Brooklyn Nets lost Jeremy Lin to a hamstring injury that will keep him off the court for at least two weeks. At this point, it’s possible that Lin could miss more than two weeks. The Nets have simply said that Lin will be re-evaluated in two weeks time, and they will assess his condition before determining how to move forward.

The loss of Lin, even if it’s for a short time, was going to hurt the Nets. There’s no way around it. But it may have been softened if the Nets had healthy depth behind Lin. Unfortunately for Brooklyn, that is not the case.

Lin’s primary backup, Greivis Vasquez, recently injured his right ankle against the Milwaukee Bucks. He has been out since, and that ankle is, of course, the same one that Vasquez had surgery on last season. The Nets have been mum on his status, but he missed another game on Friday night.

Vasquez and Lin were two of the guards the Nets signed this past offseason. Another, was Randy Foye. Foye was ruled out for all of the Nets’ games to this point, except Friday’s loss against the Charlotte Hornets. Foye was active for the first time, but he didn’t enter the game. Foye, like Lin, was battling a hamstring injury which he suffered in practice prior to the season opener.

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Brooklyn’s first-round pick, Caris LeVert, is also injured, as he is working his way back from a foot injury. As of this writing, LeVert has yet to make his NBA debut, although he has said he expects to return soon.

The losses of Lin and Vasquez are unfortunate because they are two of the true point guards on the roster. Foye has played the majority of his career as a shooting guard, although he is capable of playing point guard. The same can be said for LeVert, who could see time at both guard spots once he is healthy.

In the absence of Lin and Vasquez, the Nets have begun using second-round pick Isaiah Whitehead at point guard. On Friday night, Whitehead got the first start of his NBA career. Whitehead played 23 minutes, and scored eight points to go along with three assists. Whitehead didn’t play bad — and Kenny Atkinson sounded pleased with his performance after the game — but he had foul trouble throughout the game and turned the ball over three times.

Now is not the time to judge Whitehead one way or the other. He is young, and it was only his first start in the NBA. But the fact that Whitehead is starting at point guard six games into the season should speak volumes. Whitehead, after all, was one of the players the Nets expected to spend time in the D-League this season. With a fully healthy backcourt, that makes sense. If Lin is starting every night, Vasquez and Foye are available as backups, and Sean Kilpatrick runs the offense from time to time, there aren’t a ton of minutes for Whitehead.

But with such a depleted back court due to injuries, Whitehead is forced into action.

The Nets undoubtedly miss Lin’s presence on the floor. In Friday’s game, Brook Lopez was effective in the first half, but Charlotte took measures to force other players to step up in the second half. If the Nets had Lin on Friday, they may have won a game that they ultimately lost by just four points.

Brooklyn has come across some back luck with the timing of these injuries. Obviously, losing both Vasquez and Lin within days of each other is going to be detrimental. The good news is, the Nets are still playing hard despite losing their starting point guard. They nearly beat a very talented Hornets squad without Lin, Vasquez, and Foye.

The Nets have to hope that both Lin and Vasquez will be able to return to action soon. LeVert, in time, should add another element to the Nets’ backcourt. Foye should make his Nets debut soon, since he suited up on Friday.

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For now, though, the Nets’ depth at point guard is paper-thin. Brooklyn is doing their best with what they’ve got on hand. Kilpatrick is more of a shooting guard, and Whitehead, ideally, would’ve had more time to learn before being thrown into a starting role. But such is life when it comes to injuries in the NBA. Especially when depth at a particular position is quite low.