Kathy Willens/Associated Press
NBA coaches often say in the beginning of the season that it might take a few weeks to figure out which rotations maximize the roster's talent. For Jason Kidd, it took more than two months.
Touted as an imposing and physical team at each position, the Nets appeared slow-footed and overexerted in the season's early stages. They played poor transition defense and had trouble guarding the perimeter, leading to a bloated Defensive Efficiency and an unsightly winning percentage.
Kidd responded well to the early problems, even if it took him a little while. In December, he demoted assistant coach Lawrence Frank.
At the time, the move appeared indicative of budding front office turmoil associated with the poor start. As the Nets picked up their play, opinions shifted in favor of Kidd, who was now unshackled from Frank's basketball philosophies and could experiment freely with the team.
What were those experiments? Kidd adopted a smaller lineup, shifting Kevin Garnett to center and depending heavily on Shaun Livingston. He called upon Mirza Teletovic and Andray Blatche for more minutes, relying on Brooklyn's depth over their star power.
The adjustments paid off. The Nets won ten of their thirteen January games, earning Kidd Coach of the Month honors, and are 21-9 since the calendar turned to 2014.
Their two most frequent five-man rotations both include Garnett and Pierce shifted to center and power forward, respectively. Combined, those units boast a +61 plus-minus and allow a superb 90.1 points per 100 possessions.
Kidd has been able to accomplish all this while being hamstrung in a way that most NBA coaches aren't. The Nets head coach not only has to worry about the effectiveness of certain rotations, but must also always consider the physical burden on players like Garnett, Pierce, and Joe Johnson, who have over a hundred years between them.
Thus, Kidd's calculations must include significant rest for his older players, making his challenges more difficult and his successes more impressive.
Kidd's work is not finished, though. His team still struggles on the boards, consistently losing to good rebounding teams. If the Nets are to make any noise in the playoffs, Kidd will have keep juggling the lineups.
All statistics per 82games.com