The Brooklyn Nets have made some major changes this offseason, headlined by their blockbuster trade with the Boston Celtics and the return of Jason Kidd to coach a team that now has a genuine chance of competing for a title.
As a rookie head coach with no experience as an assistant, Kidd already has his work cut out, and it's hard to tell how well he'll do in a high-pressure situation like this.
Though they've only just been assembled, these Nets have a very short window and are under pressure to become an elite team right away. It's not going to be easy, but with Kidd coaching, it's going to be an adventure if nothing else.
It's always hard to predict how a first-time head coach is going to do, but based on his playing career, Kidd has the credentials to take Brooklyn far this season. He may have no coaching experience, but he was as close to a coach as a player could be during his career.
Kidd was not only a point guard but also one of the smartest players in the game, allowing him to prolong his career until the age of 40 when his athleticism had completely left him behind.
Kidd was the proverbial "extension of the coach on the floor" for the New York Knicks last season, and it's no surprise that they were interested in bringing him back in an assistant role.
There aren't many players who've gone straight to coaching after retirement, but the two prime examples—Mike Dunleavy Sr. and Paul Silas—yielded mixed results.
Dunleavy took over a Los Angeles Lakers team in 1990 that had made it to the NBA Finals the year before but had just lost Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to retirement. They would go on to win 58 games and make it to the Finals once again in Dunleavy's first year.
Things weren't as easy for Silas, however. He took over one of the league's worst teams in the San Diego Clippers. They won only 36 games, with star Bill Walton missing the entire season due to injury.
Of course, these are situations completely different from the one Kidd is facing next season. He's taking over a team with arguably the most well-rounded starting five in the NBA, with a very solid bench to boot.
In Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, Kidd also has two savvy future Hall of Famers to help lead the team, along with the respect of star point guard Deron Williams. Coupled with the addition of Lawrence Frank as an assistant, the Nets have gotten Kidd all the help he could possibly need.
That won't guarantee success in an increasingly tough Eastern Conference. As long as they have LeBron James, the Miami Heat should stay around the top of the conference, while the Chicago Bulls, Indiana Pacers and rival Knicks have all improved heading into 2013-14.
Teams are even starting to creep up from the bottom of the conference, with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Washington Wizards and Detroit Pistons all making the leap to becoming genuine contenders for playoff spots.
Brooklyn has a lot of talent at every position, but that alone won't be enough to win. More than anything else, the Nets will need chemistry, but on such short notice, building that could be difficult. Looking at the impact he made on the Knicks last season, Kidd is as good a man as any to help get a squad all on the same page.
In a recent interview with The Source, Kidd said he was going to use The Matrix as a motivational tool for his players, pointing out how important it is to fight for something you believe in.
Looking at how they performed in the playoffs, it's clear the Nets need to play with more intensity and fight. As well-coached as the Bulls were, there's no excuse for losing to a team that was so depleted on the injury front.
As someone who understands the strain of playing on old legs, it will also be interesting to see how Kidd handles the likes of Garnett and Pierce. It might be smart to reduce their minutes significantly in the regular season to keep them fresh for the playoffs, which is made possible by the addition of Andrei Kirilenko and the return of Andray Blatche.
Kidd himself ran completely out of gas in the postseason last year, going on a run of 10 games without a single point, after looking pretty good earlier in the first few months of the season.
The Nets are definitely a much-improved team, and Kidd figures to have a lot of success as a coach, but with the competition heating up and the team being rushed to perform right away, it's unclear just how good Brooklyn will be this season.
If nothing else, the Nets bought themselves a ton of excitement with these offseason moves and along with that a realistic chance of becoming a title-contender.
Whether or not that becomes a reality will depend on just how quick Kidd's transition can be.
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