Few offseason news story lines have attracted more divided opinion than that of the Brooklyn Nets hiring Jason Kidd to be their new head coach. Kidd was playing point guard off the bench for the New York Knicks against the Indiana Pacers in the 2013 NBA playoffs as late as May. He now takes on the tremendous task of coaching the franchise that he played with for seven seasons between 2001 and 2008.
Kidd’s time as the point guard and star player of the then New Jersey Nets was the most successful in the franchise’s history. The Nets reached the playoffs in seven consecutive seasons and made the 2002 and 2003 NBA Finals. They lost those finals to the LA Lakers and San Antonio Spurs respectively, but Kidd’s achievement as a facilitating point guard on a team hardly stacked with talent should never be under-estimated and has rightfully earned him the respect and adoration of the fan base.
The 40-year old has been playing in the league since the 1994-95 season and as a point guard, he will have gained some head coaching style experience running the offense. Kidd is one of the most respected voices in the game of basketball today and is known as a strong leader. Surely, he should have the perfect blend of experience, personality and insight to make a perfect head coach.
The questions are not being asked of Kidd’s pedigree, but rather on his job related experience. It is very rare that a player steps straight out of an NBA playing career and straight into a coaching role. Several have tried and very few have succeeded.
Even for a player like Kidd spending some time reflecting and studying the game off the court would surely have been tremendously beneficial for his basketball coaching ability. This is a man who has never spent time as an assistant coach and so hasn’t learned many of the absolutely vital skills involved with being a successful head coach. If Kidd can bring in an experienced staff to support him, then a lot of those deficiencies can probably alleviated, but it won’t be an easy task.
The pressure will be on Kidd right from the outset as well. He steps in to take over a Brooklyn franchise that made a big move to New York last season, finished fourth in the conference, but was dissatisfied with a first round exit. That exit undoubtedly cost interim coach P.J. Carlesimo an opportunity to come back and coach this team.
Carlesimo also wasn’t helped by an often fractious relationship with the team’s star players. He failed to truly connect with Brooks Lopez and Deron Williams and that was perhaps indicated by the pair’s inconsistent efforts and performances.
One of the biggest benefits cited of Kidd’s arrival in Brooklyn has been the potential impact he can have on Williams. The two are known to be good friends and Williams is said to have tremendous respect for Kidd. The team’s point guard is the big money player and will need to emerge as a true star player if the Nets are going to take that next step and compete seriously in the Eastern conference playoffs.
The reality is that Brooklyn management will forgive Kidd if he doesn’t perfect the Xs and Os straight away. They have clearly hired him because they believe that he is the man who can motivate and drive this team’s players to the next level. That’s no easy task, but we will see what Kidd can do.