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NBA Trade Scenario: Instead of Eric Bledsoe, New Orleans Pelicans would be wise to focus on Jeremy Lin

If Dell Demps is busy parsing through the trade market, he should chase the one who got away.

NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Boston Celtics Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

When Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted the Phoenix Suns were making a strategic shift towards an all-in youth movement, many immediately filled their heads with scenarios of whisking Eric Bledsoe away to their favorite team. While he would make for a nice addition on the New Orleans Pelicans, a better fit at point guard may be available on the market — Jeremy Lin.

The name should be quite familiar to everyone. Dell Demps pursued Lin during the last free agency period, but the Nets emerged the winner for his services because they were able to offer a spot in the starting lineup. One year later, however, the landscape and agenda has vastly changed in Brooklyn. All-Star center Brook Lopez is no longer with the team, and the plan is to hand D’Angelo Russell the reins at point guard. With Caris LeVert expected to be his future running backcourt mate, where does that leave Lin?

Well, he recently wondered the same thing.

In an interview, though, Lin said that he understands the business behind the move of his team. However, this does not mean that it has not affected him in a way. Admitting that his emotions were raw when he was informed of the deal, the Brooklyn Nets point guard said that the trade of his partner is disappointing and tough for him.

"I guess it was just missing Brook, and I felt like we were figuring out ways to work together. So, it would have been a cool opportunity to see what we could do this upcoming season, but that's obviously not the direction we're going in right now... I feel like there was definitely some stuff that was kind of unfinished. But again, we all understand the business, and we're super-thankful for the time that we did have together," Lin said in an interview with Newsday.

Outside of Russell and LeVert, NetsDaily believes everyone else is available so I am hoping the Pelicans try to pounce.

I made mention of Lin’s potential fit on a roster with Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans in tow last summer and it projected to be a good one as long as he would have been handed the point guard duties.

There is one problem with this line of thinking on the surface: Can Lin become a fearsome playmaker again? As a member of the Hornets, he had an assist percentage of 18.6%. 4.1 assists per 36 minutes isn't particularly useful, not when a score-first mentality has difficultly with efficiency.

However, digging into Lin's playing time estimates by position at Nylon Calculus reveals one very important fact: Lin spent nearly twice as much time at SG than PG (63.4% vs. 36.6%). At the point, Jeremy Lin beasted. His per 36 minute numbers included 18.6 ppg, 5.6 apg and 4.7 rpg. His shot efficiency from the floor was stronger too. If Lin were to join the roster in New Orleans, he would likely see most of his playing time come from the one as Holiday and Evans could slide over to the two.

Things really get interesting when looking at the other side of the floor. Lin stands 6'3'', weights around 200 pounds and has good feet. For the Hornets last season, he was effective defensively at both guard positions. His -0.18 DRPM was 20th among point guards, sitting within striking distance of Conley and John Wall. Charlotte's defensive rating was notably stronger when he was on the floor, in both the regular season and playoffs.

Hmm, hasn’t everyone been talking for months that if Holiday gets re-signed, he’d be a better fit going forward at the two?

Barring a trade, we know Holiday is going to be in New Orleans for at least four more years. Plus, one year later, I still like Lin, and even more so than Bledsoe. For starters, Lin’s defense, ability to get to the line and playmaking are stronger. Here’s how the two of them stack up against one another (RPM rankings are among point guards only), and for comparison purposes, Holiday’s stats are also included.

Player PER ORPM DRPM eFG% FTr Assist%
Jrue Holiday 17.1 0.64 (22) 1.18 (3rd) 51.0% .188 35.9%
Jeremy Lin 19.2 0.48 (25) -0.03 (21st) 51.0% .390 35.5%
Eric Bledsoe 20.5 2.33 (14) -0.64 (36) 48.5% .300 31.1%

Pretty comparable, though, and Bledsoe’s ORPM is impressive. However, below is where the true value of Lin to the Pelicans roster emerges: in their various shooting proficiencies and play type statistics. Keep in mind when looking through the data that Alvin Gentry and Chris Finsh want the team to play fast and be able to surround Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins with shooters, cutters and players who can operate on the move.

Player Catch-and-shoot eFG% Catch-and-shoot 3FG% Pull-Up eFG% Pull-Up 3FG% Spot-Up Percentile Transition Percentile Cut Percentile Handoff Percentile
Jrue Holiday 47.0% 30.8% 46.8% 37.6% 42nd 20th 89th 87th
Jeremy Lin 58.8% 39.5% 48.4% 35.1% 38th 45th 73rd 89th
Eric Bledsoe 53.6% 37.9% 39.4% 29.9% 73rd 28th 96th 35th

If Holiday and Solomon Hill are going to surround the Pelicans two All-Star big men in the starting lineup, the fifth player on the floor needs to be a potent shooter, good off cuts and be able to take a handoff from one of the bigs and turn it into points. While it’s nice to see Bledsoe boast solid spot-up percentages, a starting pg isn’t going to be the recipient of a lot of stand still open shots. No, it’s more key for a modern successful offense to have players who are efficient on the move — ever watch the Golden State Warriors?

So, we’ve arrived at the million dollar question: What would it take to land Jeremy Lin?

Brook Lopez and the 27th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft netted D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov in return. Perhaps the Nets have shown a penchant for top tier talent? This would be understandable considering they haven’t had a pick in the lottery since 2010 when they drafted Derrick Favors. Consequently, it’s unlikely they would be tempted by just projects like Cheick Diallo or Frank Jackson combined with second round picks.

Expect discussions to include a future first round pick(s) and a pick swap at a minimum. Considering a good locker room is also important to general manager Sean Marks, maybe a package centered around E’Twaun Moore, Quincy Pondexter and the Pelicans 2018 first round pick would be a decent starting point because Lin has only one year left on a good contract?

ESPN Trade Machine

One important reason you shouldn’t overlook is that there are going to be a lot of teams looking to unload some of their dead salary to Phoenix, so expect Bledsoe’s price to be a lot higher than Lin’s. E’Twaun Moore is a serviceable player on a decent contract and Quincy Pondexter’s deal is expiring, thus, the Nets salary cap sheet wouldn’t be overburdened and require a lot of assets.

82% of you liked the idea of Jeremy Lin if one of Holiday or Evans were removed from the equation last summer. Well, Tyreke is no longer here, so how about it?

All data and statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference and NBA Stats.