After kicking him when he was down, it’s time for the world to give Jason Kidd his due.
Bringing aboard a rookie coach to lead a team with a maximum title window of two years was a poor move on the part of the Brooklyn Nets.
And early on in 2013-14, it showed.
Brooklyn went 10-21 in the season’s first two months and looked atrocious. But since New Year’s Day, the Nets have rattled off a pair of five-game winning streaks and have elevated their record to 20-23.
It was fair to point fingers at the coach when his team was losing.
But after enduring a barrage of injuries and criticism, J-Kidd has turned the Nets around.
Such a poor start to the season was unacceptable for a team boasting the most expensive roster in NBA history. But in fairness to him, Kidd was dealt a tough hand when it came to health.
Nonetheless, as noted by B/R’s Jared Dubin, Kidd’s "small ball" starting five—Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Alan Anderson, Shaun Livingston and Joe Johnson—has been one of the most efficient lineups in the league.
Brooklyn has 14 players averaging more than 10 minutes a night, a testament to both the team's depth and Kidd's ability to formulate productive lineups.
He's even had Williams come off the bench in five straight contests, and the star point guard has averaged over 11 points and eight assists a night in that span.
Players like Livingston and Mirza Teletovic have been given serious minutes as a result of Brooklyn’s deep pool of rotation players, and it has paid off.
Johnson, Pierce, Williams, Livingston, Teletovic—Brooklyn has a ton of guys with the capability to catch fire and carry the team's offense on a given night.
And Kidd’s versatility in configuring his lineups and rotation has made that possible.
Respect of his team
While we knew Teletovic was an assassin from long range, no one ever said he was wise.
The 28-year-old European was interviewed by a Bosnian newspaper recently, and had some bold comments about his coach.
Alright there, Mirza. Let’s see the Nets get above .500 before we start comparing their rookie sideline general to arguably one of the greatest coaches of all time.
But that comment, as ridiculous as it was, is just one example of how much Brooklyn’s players really do respect Kidd. And Teletovic hasn’t been the only one to voice support for his coach and future of the team.
The biggest thing about this turnaround is we never got down on one another. We’ve never had the finger pointing, we’ve never put the blame on anybody but ourselves. We kept coming to work, kept staying professional because we still believed we’d turn this thing around.
The thing is: When you believe and you continue to get through the tough patches, it shows how things can kind of turnaround, and that’s what you see right now.
Kidd’s been able to maintain the support of the locker room throughout the season, which is probably the biggest reason for Brooklyn’s turnaround. After all, it’s the players that ultimately win or lose games.
But putting the best combinations of players out on the floor, and keeping the entire team onboard, even through the tough times, has benefited J-Kidd and the Nets greatly.
Effort on both ends
Defense—what a strange word to hear in regards to New York basketball.
But after allowing opponents to reach triple digits 15 times in the season’s first two months, the Nets clamped down and held opposing teams to just a hair over 93 points per night in January.
Brooklyn entered the season being heralded as a title contender, and fell flat on its face once the team stepped onto the court.
However, this is a team that plays hard every night on both ends of the floor. And they’re getting better as Kidd improves, learns and adapts each and every game.
Effort is always looked at as a reflection of the coach. And after seeing the Nets fight their way out of such an enormous hole, it's clear that the players in that locker room truly believe in their coach.
At this rate, who knows what the Nets are capable of.
But what we do know is that a young coach is growing before our eyes. And while there are still going to be growing pains and road blocks along the way, Jason Kidd looks like he'll be coaching in this league for a long time.