Jeremy Lin suffered a grade one sprain and contusion on his right knee against the Atlanta Hawks on Nov. 27 and will be out of the lineup for at least two weeks, according to the Houston Rockets’ official Twitter feed.
Guard Jeremy Lin will miss 2 weeks with a right knee sprain suffered Wednesday. Will be re-evaluated then.— Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) November 29, 2013
Lin had been making a major impact coming off the bench for this surging squad and has left a big hole for head coach Kevin McHale to fill over the next fortnight.
One player that is an ideal candidate to step up and soak up those minutes in Lin’s absence is Aaron Brooks, the underutilized veteran that has seen limited playing time during the 2013-14 NBA campaign.
Brooks is a high-volume scorer that is capable of changing a game with his instant offense off the pine. The 28-year-old guard is averaging a mere 6.3 points, 1.6 assists and 1.3 rebounds in 2013-14, but holds career numbers of 11.4 points, 3.3 dimes and 1.8 boards.
Prior to the injury, Lin had played in 16 games—starting eight of them—and logged 30.1 minutes per contest.
He was in the midst of his most efficient campaign yet, scoring 15.3 points on 50.3 percent shooting from the field and 39 percent from beyond the arc while dishing out an average of 4.5 assists and grabbing 2.6 rebounds per matchup.
Lin excelled as a backup to starting point guard Patrick Beverley, a role that Brooks is more than capable of assuming. He came off the bench in 26 of his 46 appearances with the Sacramento Kings last season, putting up solid figures—8.0 points, 2.3 assists, 1.7 rebounds—in just over 20 minutes per game.
The fifth-year man out of Oregon has seen his accuracy improve over the past few seasons, as Brooks is connecting on 46.5 percent of his field-goal attempts and 48.5 percent of his treys this year.
Will Brooks play well enough to earn more time after Lin returns?
That is a step up from his 45.9 percent field-goal shooting and 37.8 percent three-point shooting outing last season. It's also above his career numbers of 41.7 percent and 36.7 percent, respectively.
It is clear that the Rockets will not need to look far for a temporary stopgap in Lin’s absence. Brooks is perfectly positioned to prove himself to coach McHale and perhaps even see his minutes increase in the long run if he does a great job of replacing Linsanity.
He did exactly that against the Hawks after Lin exited, posting 21 points, four assists and two rebounds. While Brooks' minutes were cut and numbers dipped in a win over the San Antonio Spurs, he still projects to see plenty of time with Lin sidelined.
The versatile guard is going to put points on the board and is certainly capable of running the offense for short stretches, which will help Houston continue to win ballgames.
While Lin’s absence will hurt, this surging Rockets squad doesn’t look to be slowing down anytime soon and should continue humming right along with Brooks absorbing Lin’s minutes.