When the Brooklyn Nets added Jason Kidd as their head coach, only to follow up the addition with the huge acquisitions of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, the spotlight was on the team to succeed. Suffice it to say it hasn't gone to plan, and now the spotlight is on Kidd.
Brooklyn has battled countless injuries to key players, never being able to find a rhythm. The players can't help being injured, and now the onus is on Kidd to turn this team around. It's his role as the head coach to lead them through this period of adversity. Kidd hasn't show as much thus far.
The Nets currently sport a dismal 4-11 record, a spot none could have really anticipated. The roster is stacked to say the least but can't strike up enough chemistry to succeed. Some of that falls on Kidd's lack of coaching experience, in addition to the aforesaid injury problems of the team.
Even so, Brooklyn has enough healthy pieces to keep the team above .500 at the very least.
One of the biggest gripes on Kidd thus far has been his lack of involvement. Bleacher Report's Howard Beck reported a testimony from a veteran NBA scout, discussing the lack of participation on Kidd's part. Per Beck's article:
"He doesn’t do anything,” said the scout, who has watched the Nets several times. “He doesn’t make calls. John Welch does all the offense. Lawrence does all the defense. … I don’t know what Kidd does. I don’t think you can grade him and say he’s bad. You can give him an incomplete."
Admittedly I'm working off a small sample of actual viewing time, but Jason Kidd seems to be the rare sit-down head coach.— Jeff Caplan (@Caplan_NBA) November 10, 2013
To make it worse, it seems to be the general consensus around the NBA on Kidd. Per the transcript from Devin Kharpertian of The Brooklyn Game, ESPN's David Thorpe called Kidd "the worst coach in the NBA" in an interview with Henry Abbott on the site's blog TrueHoop TV. It might be harsh on Kidd given his inexperience, but the team's lack of coaching shows.
The Nets have one of the worst offensive systems in the league, ranking in the bottom 10 in points, field-goal percentage and assists. The same can be said defensively of Brooklyn.
The team allows 102.5 points per game on 44.9 percent shooting, allowing 38.2 percent from three-point range. The Nets don't have many players who can play solid defense, aside from maybe Kevin Garnett or Andrei Kirilenko, and thus need to play a team-orientated defensive system to counteract.
Kidd was a big part of the Dallas Mavericks team that won the title over the Miami Heat in 2011. Dallas was a top-10 defensive team that year, and while having Tyson Chandler in the middle was a key part, Kidd's involvement as a leader needs to carry over into his role with the Nets.
The offense will take care of itself with the many scorers on the roster. That isn't to say Brooklyn shouldn't care about it, but the priority should be on the team's defense. Kidd needs to be more involved with what the Nets are doing, running the right lineups and making defensive adjustments.
Paul Pierce called the team out on such, per A. Sherrod Blakely of Comast SportsNet:
"We got to understand teams aren't going to play the same way they did in the first half as they did in the second half because teams make adjustments, especially when they are down," said the former Celtics star. "And we got to realize that and adjust to that."
Kidd is making the right decisions in some regard, he just isn't doing it in a necessarily legal way. His recent spill (pun intended) by purposefully disrupting the game to call a play was crafty, but it ultimately didn't pan out. Kidd's collision with Nets guard Tyshawn Taylor resulted in spilt soda on the court, requiring a break from the action for it to be cleaned.
Kidd drew up a play for Brooklyn's ensuing possession in the break (that didn't pan out), but it showed a glimpse into his decision-making choices as the coach. It was a creative concept that almost worked, but it cost Kidd a $50,000 fine from the NBA, courtesy of Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski. He needs to be drawing the right sort of attention to himself and the team by being responsible. While this incident was quite hilarious in one regard, it doesn't bring an air of professionalism to the Nets.
At the most basic level, it was a cheap move to try and win the game. Brooklyn could have absolutely used a win at this point (2-8 in the last 10 games), but Kidd's antic brought negative attention.
He certainly deserves some patience this early on in the season, but the team shouldn't be miring in the gallows of the Eastern Conference with a $102.2 million payroll (courtesy of HoopsWorld). The team itself needs time as well, given the fact that nine different players have started a game or more thus far.
In hindsight, Kidd should use this as a positive rather than a negative. It's easier said than done, but it gives the Nets the opportunity to create a system that doesn't rely on individual talent. Much like the San Antonio Spurs, for example, who can lose any one of their star players and not miss a beat.
Much of that has to do with the brilliance of Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, but Kidd can employ the classic "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery" rule and run something similar with his team.
Can Jason Kidd solve the Nets' problems?
Brooklyn's players have the experience, skill and versatility to run a selfless system, both offensively and defensively. It would also work wonders for the ageing Pierce and Garnett, taking away the burden of trying to play five years younger for the team to win.
It's crucial to remember how difficult it is to have such a flawless system, but the Nets have the stars and the role players to make it work. Brooklyn desperately needs a direction and an identity, and it needs to come from Kidd.
It's too early in the season to call for his removal, but it's far enough in to wonder what's going on on the bench. Kidd and his staff are experienced enough as individuals to come together with their players, forge an identity and employ it.