The 2016-2017 season was a tumultuous season for both Jeremy Lin and the Brooklyn Nets. The Nets’ key free agent signing struggled with lingering hamstring issues for a large part of the season, playing in only 36 games. While the Nets’ 13-23 record with Lin in the lineup was far from impressive, his sheer presence on the court as a veteran point guard was sorely missed. For the 2017-2018 season, Lin will be a pillar of consistency on a Nets team with many question marks.
Jeremy Lin – Previous Injuries
2010-2011 – Golden State Warriors
29 regular season games played – no injuries
Reno Bighorns (D-League) – 20 games played
2011-2012 – New York Knicks
35 regular season games played
17 regular season games missed, 5 playoff games missed (partial left meniscus tear)
Linsanity ended with a whimper. As a key cog in a Knicks squad that tried to make a playoff push, Jeremy Lin went down in the ending portion of the lockout shortened 2011-2012 season. He underwent arthroscopic knee surgery at the beginning of April, missing the Knicks’ final playoff push and the first round of the playoffs against the Miami Heat. (The LeBron edition Miami Heat, mind you.)
Prior to the hamstring issues in 2016-2017, this was Lin’s biggest health scare. There were no recurrences of surgery-causing knee injuries since 2012, although some minor issues in his Rockets and Lakers tenures persisted. (More on that later.)
2012-2013 – Houston Rockets
82 regular season games played, 4 playoff games played (chest contusion)
2 playoff games missed
Lin played in all 82 regular season games in his first year with the Houston Rockets. In Game 3 of the Rockets’ first round series against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Lin collided with Oklahoma City’s Thabo Sefolosha on a loose ball. Here’s video of it…
Ouch. Lin was diagnosed with a chest contusion, unable to move his arms at full range or play at full tilt. Jeremy Lin went on to miss Games 4 and 5 of the first round series, but returned for Game 6. The Rockets were eliminated that game. Weird chest contusions from collisions with players can happen to anybody. It was an injury that rose from a bang-bang play. Considering Lin’s propensity to drive to the basket, and score amidst big men, his toughness should be noted.
2013-2014 – Houston Rockets
71 regular season games played, 6 playoff games played
11 games missed (knee and back)
Lin initially injured his knee on November 27th against the Atlanta Hawks, bumping knees with Paul Millsap. He suffered the sprain when the two battled for a rebound off of an Atlanta miss. After contact was made, Lin was taken out of the game.
He missed six consecutive games, returning for a back-to-back set on December 12th and 13th. Lin then missed four games after that, due to back spasms. He was out of action for about a week, but returned to the starting lineup on December 23rd against the Dallas Mavericks. He played 37 minutes in the loss, and would play the remainder of the season relatively healthy.
Lin rested, along with the Rockets’ other key players, in Game 82 of the regular season. He played all six playoff games in Houston’s first round series against the Portland Trail Blazers.
2014-2015 – Los Angeles Lakers
74 regular season games played
8 games missed (upper respiratory infection, sore left knee)
Lin initially missed two games against the Brooklyn Nets (WOO GO NETS) due to an upper respiratory infection. There’s no real way to predict that coming, and possibly the only remedy for that is some soup and fluids. (Thanks, mom.) He went on to play four more games before being shut down for the season on April 8th.
Lin missed the final four games of the Lakers’ season due to left knee soreness. ESPN’s Baxter Holmes reported that his injury was a “cartilage abnormality that is not considered serious.” The injury was probably a result of the Lakers’ desire to tank (coincidentally, the Lakers drafted D’Angelo Russell with the second pick in the 2015 draft) and Byron Scott’s loss of favor for the point guard.
2015-2016 – Charlotte Hornets
78 regular season games played
4 games missed (ankle, back)
In his lone year with the Hornets, Lin again was relatively healthy for most of the year. He suffered from a few “wear and tear” type injuries. Lin missed two games on December 30h and January 1st (what’s up with these holiday season injuries though?) due to an ankle injury. The then-medium length hair Lin played heavy minutes for most of the year, including 50:29 (yes, 50 minutes) in a double overtime matchup against the Sacramento Kings on January 25th.
Lin missed one game a few days after the double overtime thriller due to an ankle injury. In a blowout loss to the Utah Jazz on a West Coast road trip, Lin injured his ankle and missed one game. He returned two days later, starting against Byron Scott’s Los Angeles Lakers.
Lin missed his fourth game of the season on March 29th against the Philadelphia 76ers due to back tightness. Again, Lin returned to the lineup the next game, playing 24 minutes in a second matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers on April 1st.
Lin would also play all seven games of the Hornets’ first round series against the Miami Heat. He was a key cog off of the bench for Charlotte in their playoff run, prompting free agent interest.
2016-2017 – Brooklyn Nets
36 regular season games played
46 games missed (hamstring, ankle, back)
With all the excitement of a new city and a solid starting gig, Jeremy Lin was ready to make an impact in New York once again, albeit in a different borough. Lin initially was injured in the fifth game of the season, against the Detroit Pistons on November 2nd. His hamstring injury took him out of action for 16 games, spanning 5 weeks in real time. That feels like forever, doesn’t it?
Jeremy Lin returned to action on December 12th against the Houston Rockets, playing 20 minutes. Lin missed the next game on December 14th against the Los Angeles Lakers, due to back tightness. Obviously, returning from injury requires an adjustment period, so the Nets were very cautious with Lin’s return.
Lin played the next six games, with the Nets going 1-5 in that span. Lin was taken out of the game in the third quarter of the Nets’ post-Christmas game against the Charlotte Hornets. (AKA the Randy Foye buzzer beater game)
His injury occurred on a non-contact play on a drive to the rim. The recurrence of the hamstring injury was definitely a pain for the Nets. The Nets emerged victorious in only one game in the 27 games Lin missed due to his second hamstring injury.
Return to Action
Lin returned after the All Star Break on February 24th. He played around 20 minutes for his first five games, then his minutes were slowly ramped up to 25-30 minutes per game.
Lin suffered a minor ankle injury on March 19th against the Dallas Mavericks, rolling his ankle on an off the dribble jump shot. He tried to draw a foul on a jump shot, but landed awkwardly in the first half.
Lin missed one game, against the Detroit Pistons (AKA the Brook Lopez buzzer beater game). He returned to the starting point guard spot two days later against the Phoenix Suns, a game in which the Nets routed the tanking Suns. Lin would remain healthy for the rest of the season, usually playing around 30 minutes each game until the end of the season. Lin sat out Game 82 against the Chicago Bulls, along with several other key Nets players. (Sorry, Miami Heat.)
Hamstring Injuries Are Fickle
As Jeremy Lin, the Brooklyn Nets and Jeremy Lin fans would know, hamstring injuries are annoying. Chris Paul, another magnetic point guard, struggled with hamstring injuries in the 2014-2015 season. In a 2015 Los Angeles Times article, Chris Erskine detailed the history of hamstring injuries, in a piece titled “Beware the hamstring injury, tormentor of Chris Paul and many others.” Erskine mentioned that “an athlete would almost be better off breaking a bone than yanking a hamstring.”
The word “hamstrung” exists in the English language for a reason! Hamstrung, per the Merriam-Webster dictionary, means “not producing the desired result” and “unable to act or achieve one’s purpose.” The word hamstrung is often used to describe the Brooklyn Nets’ asset situation when Sean Marks took the role of general manager in February of last year.
Hamstring injuries account for 29% of all athletic injuries, according to a study by Columbia University’s Department of Orthopedic Surgery. (The study looked at major and mnior league baseball players, while also taking a wide-scale look at all athletes.) Of course, that accounts for every sport, not just basketball. A 2015 article in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, reported that hamstring injuries have increased by 4% annually in men’s professional football (not the American kind.) Measurements were taken over a 13-year period. The study noted that hamstring injuries occurred most often during training.
Hamstring Injury Risk Factors and NBA History
In their 2012 review, Freckleton and Pizzari addressed the risk factors for hamstring strains. Two major findings from that review showed that previous hamstring injury and quadriceps peak torque were key factors in hamstring injuries. Quadriceps peak torque is especially important in stop-start athletes that rely on explosion. Jeremy Lin’s career has been predicated on his ability to accelerate and explode, using strong quadriceps muscles to blow by defenders.
Andrew Bogut, J.R. Smith, Chris Paul, Khris Middleton, Marco Bellinelli, Matthew Dellavedova and Lonzo Ball have all missed time to due to hamstring issues ranging in severity in the past two years. After the initial rash of hamstring woes, each player has not had a reoccurrence of the injury in proceeding seasons.
The Columbia University study also found that re-injury risk was between 12-31%. While only a strain, and not a complete tear, every hamstring injury must be treated carefully. While athletes may feel ready to perform after a few weeks, the strain may linger. Both rest and recovery should be emphasized, especially after periods of inactivity. While Lin was out for several weeks and could have likely played, albeit, at a decreased efficiency, it was in the Brooklyn Nets’ performance team to treat the hamstring injury with extreme care.
Is Jeremy Lin injury prone?
While Jeremy Lin did miss quite a bit of time in 2016-2017 season due to hamstring issues, that does not indicate a continuing trend. It seems like the Brooklyn Nets handled Lin’s hamstring woes the best they could with an aggressive rest plan. While hamstring injuries are notoriously difficult to recover from, they are also difficult to predict. They can happen at any point, due to overwork or just by sheer freak chance. Jeremy Lin and the Brooklyn Nets are hoping that hamstring injuries are in the past.
While hamstring injuries are notoriously difficult to recover from, they are also difficult to predict. They can happen at any point, due to overwork or just by sheer freak chance. But after initial recurrence, hamstring woes tend to decrease. Seemingly, Lin may be past his recurring hamstring issues and will start the 2017-2018 offseason ready to make an impact (and the playoffs) once again. Jeremy Lin and the Brooklyn Nets hope that hamstring injuries are in the past.