It seemed like the Nets were the butt of every joke at the beginning of the season as this mega-million team stat at 10-21 and had a rookie head coach trying to spill drinks on the court to buy extra time when he did not have a timeout. His aging roster then seemed to be falling apart.
Now, it is almost like that was a different time and age. The Nets are not quite what everyone thought they would end up being when the season began. Although they have challenged the Heat in head-to-head matchups, they are simply too far in the standings to be considered real title threats. But Brooklyn has built itself into a very nice team, one that nobody really wants to see in the Playoffs.
That strange mash of big-salary stars has coalesced into a solid team. The Nets now sit at 40-33, good for fifth in the East. They clinched a playoff spot with their win last night over the Rockets. They are positioning for much more. As the season has gone on though, Jason Kidd has looked more and more like a head coach. The compliments about how he has grown as a coach continue to come in as the Nets make their playoff push.
Kidd spoke with Fred Kerber of the New York Post this weekend and admitted his failings at the beginning of the year and discussed how he turned things around. And, boy, did he turn things around.
“This is not going to sound right, but I wouldn’t change anything,” Kidd said. “You don’t want to be 10-21, but it was a great learning experience. One thing I talked to the guys about is we’ve got to hold on to the rope because when it changes, guys who let go see it change then want to get back on. Teammates tend to not let them back.
Among the moves Kidd has been lauded for is his willingness to experiment with his lineups. The Nets have dealt with the injury of Brook Lopez by moving Paul Pierce to power forward and Kevin Garnett to center. By going small, Brooklyn has opened the floor up for Deron Williams and for the Nets to play a four-out, one-in style that has changed the season.
Kidd making those kinds of moves shows that he could very well be a strong coach. The early season struggles were just that — early season struggles from a new coach.
It was undoubtedly a risk from Brooklyn to entrust this team with a new coach who was one year removed from playing against his team. It appears that the rough start is over and the Nets have found a decent coach.
Of course, the Playoffs are a different animal. And second year expectations will change things too.