After an offseason spent adding experience to the roster, it's clear to see that the new veteran attitude of this New York Knicks team has been a huge part of their success.
This Knicks team is more focused and serious than any we've seen in recent years, and this hot start has Kidd's fingerprints all over it.
When signed over the summer—after New York missed out on Steve Nash and amidst the craziness of the Jeremy Lin situation—some questioned whether Kidd would be worth the mid-level exception.
At age 39, with his numbers rapidly dropping and his body starting to deteriorate, it was certainly a move that raised some eyebrows.
But it's taken all of a quarter of the season for Kidd to prove his doubters wrong and show everyone exactly why he's a future Hall-of-Famer.
Looking at the stat sheet, Kidd really doesn't look that impressive. Nine points and four assists per game are nothing to write home about. That's the thing, though—the only stat that shows the full extent of his impact is the team's fantastic win-loss record.
In a year that the Knicks are looking to finally become a real contender, Kidd has brought along his own championship pedigree, and it has rubbed off on the whole team.
You don't have to look any further than New York's star man Carmelo Anthony to see this. Melo is having a career year, and it's all down to an increased emphasis on defense, teamwork and full commitment to the cause.
According to SLAMonline, Melo spoke about how he worked with Kidd going into the season, and clearly it's paid off:
I mean, for me, I want to stay in Jason’s ear...We talk every day, just little points, what he sees and what I see and just trying to get on the same page.
Having Kidd's assuring presence in the starting five has been like an extension of Mike Woodson on the floor: someone who keeps everyone accountable and under control.
Though Kidd has been a point guard for much of his career, starting at the 2 has been a success as well, because it's as much about what he says on the court as what he does. More to the point, having a second pass-first player in the lineup along with Raymond Felton has improved the flow of the offense tremendously.
Kidd's ability to shoot—he's third all-time in three-pointers made—has also been a huge help, as the Knicks have utilized the outside shot more than any other team in the league.
He has been selective with his shots, but that has paid off in a huge way, as he is shooting 48 percent from behind the arc so far this season.
Even more impressive (and frankly quite ridiculous) is that Kidd is shooting 80 percent from deep in the clutch, where he has typically thrived throughout his career.
When thinking about Kidd's impact on the Knicks, there are two telling games in particular that come to mind.
First, there was the Knicks victory in Brooklyn where Kidd faced the franchise he had so many great years with while they were located in New Jersey. Whilst Melo put up 45, Kidd quietly racked up 18 (all from three-pointers) including the game-winner despite Jerry Stackhouse's best attempt to stop him.
Then there was Saturday night at home against Cleveland, where Kidd bounced back from a poor start to help lead the Knicks to victory in Anthony's absence. Though he went 3-for-14 on the night, Kidd was huge in other areas of the game and saved his best for last.
There aren't many players in the league who can have such a great positive impact even when shooting so poorly.
Kidd may no longer be the triple-double threat he once was, but that game showed that he still contributes in multiple categories, ranging from points, assists, rebounds, steals and even blocks.
With Kidd playing such a big role and Tyson Chandler at center, the Knicks are looking a lot like the 2011 title-winning Dallas Mavericks, which is a great sign moving forward.
Players will be starting to return from injury soon—namely Amar'e Stoudemire and Iman Shumpert—but with Kidd playing the way he is, Woodson may just be convinced to keep him in as a starter.
It won't necessarily show up in the box score, but playing 28 minutes per game, Kidd can be a difference-maker on this team.
Stats used in this article were accurate as of Dec. 16, 2012.
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