On Christmas, the Brooklyn Nets were getting crushed and it appeared to be only a matter of time before head coach Jason Kidd was fired. There were even rumors that he wouldn’t make it until the All-Star Game.
One month later and a 10-3 record in January and things have totally changed as Kidd was named the NBA’s Coach of the Month for his excellent job at the helm for the first month in 2014. He becomes just the second person in NBA history to be named Coach of the Month and Player of the Month for the same team.
“I think it’s a great honor for those guys in that locker room, because they were playing at a high level,” Kidd said. “It’s a very nice recognition, but it’s for those guys that are playing, and those guys are playing very well right now.”
Now this doesn’t necessarily mean that Kidd is free and clear from being fired, just ask Avery Johnson who won Coach of the Month last November and was fired in December. However, the situation is entirely different. Johnson was not seen as the long-term solution at the head coaching position while owner Mikhail Prokhorov was excited to hire Kidd this past offseason, he referred to him as the Nets’ Top Gun, and then Kidd purchased a small portion of the team from Jay Z.
So what changed? What was the reason why Kidd went from horrible to the best coach in the NBA last month? Injuries are a big factor. The return of Andrei Kirilenko seems to have even outweighed the loss of Brook Lopez. He’s also clearly become more comfortable. Without Lawrence Frank around, he seems to be unworried about his perceived authority. He has also done a much better job managing rotations and minutes than he was earlier in the year.
The Nets just didn’t appear to be a Jason Kidd team early on. They didn’t move the ball well, seemed to thrive best in iso-ball situations and didn’t play defense. Lately, the opposite has been true. As the Nets have turned around their season it has started with defense. And the smaller lineups, with Joe Johnson at the three and Alan Anderson and Shaun Livingston at the guards, has significantly helped with ball movement.
“I’m still feeling my way,” Kidd said. “It’s still early in my young coaching career, but I’ve seen a lot in the first couple months, but the biggest thing is being able to communicate with the guys in the locker room, and that we’re all on the same page.”