When the Brooklyn Nets traded for Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce this summer, it was the final piece to what was supposed to be something great. After an up-and-down inaugural season which saw them lose to a Derrick Rose-less Chicago Bulls in seven game first round series, they had acquired the assets people believed would be enough to dismantle the Miami Heat as kings of the NBA world: A lengthy wing stopper in Andrei Kirilenko, all the veteran leadership a team could ask for out of Garnett and Pierce and finally, a healthy Deron Williams.
It seemed like a match made in heaven and it was hard to not buy into the hype.
But none of that panned out early. The injury bug hit them hard. Garnett and Pierce actually looked old for once in their careers. Williams’ ankles proved to be just like glass. Brook Lopez’s knees failed us yet again. And in the midst of all this catastrophe was Jason Kidd, a first year coach who, less than six months earlier, was wearing a Knicks jerseys, playing his final season as an NBA player. Now, the spotlight was on him in a different fashion; in a way he had never experienced before. Any failures to live up to the lofty expectations placed on the Nets in the pre-season would weigh heavily on the shoulders of one of the most storied point guards in NBA history.
Even during the Nets’ early season turmoil, Kidd kept his head above water — but only just. An intentionally spilled drink in the waning seconds of a close game against the Lakers at the end of November was perhaps his most memorable moment for all the wrong reasons. A 30-point loss to their cross town rivals, the New York Knicks, on December 5th seemed like the end of the Nets’ season. The rest of December didn’t treat them so well, as they dropped seven of their final 12 games of the month, losing to teams like the Philadelphia 76ers, Detroit Pistons and Chicago Bulls. Many had Kidd as being the first coach of the season to get the axe. He is young, inexperienced and had failed to give Brooklyn hope that their team would be of any relevance during the 2013-2014 campaign.
Then, January rolled along.
Since the start of the new year, the Nets have gone on two separate five-game winning streaks, helping them post a 10-3 record. They’ve held opponents to just 95.3 points per game, which is 7.1 less points per game than we grew accustomed to seeing them give up in the months of October, November and December. They’ve beaten championship contending teams like the Thunder, Warriors and Heat, as well as Playoff-calibre teams like the Hawks and Mavericks. A lot of that has to do with them finally being healthy, but a lot of it also comes down to the way they’re playing. And along the way, something weird has happened: They’ve been a joy to watch. (Weird, I know). The ball movement has been a thing of beauty and seeing them stop teams on the defensive end of the court has been a long time coming.
As a result of their newfound success, Jason Kidd has been awarded with his first piece of hardware as a coach in this league after being named the Eastern Conference Coach of the Month.
The Brooklyn Nets’ Jason Kidd and the Memphis Grizzlies’ Dave Joerger today were named the NBA Eastern and Western Conference Coaches of the Month, respectively, for games played in January.
The Eastern Conference is a sorry place, filled with sorrow and sadness. But teams like the Brooklyn Nets have taken advantage of their good fortune by sneaking their way into the Playoff race after a terrible start to the season. They are still working their way to becoming a .500 ball club, but they’ve made their case: There is potential in Brooklyn. Maybe not the kind of potential we expected when a sappy Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce addressed the Brooklyn media for the first time since being traded, but it’s something. Along the way, Jason Kidd is keeping a steady hand, which means you can expect no more spilled Coke on the floor of the Barclays Center from him this season.