A Nightmare In Brooklyn
The Nets entered the season as a consensus pick for the Atlantic Division title, but have since sputtered to a 6-14 record. Their abysmal start has also included a 2-6 record at home. What has gone wrong? It starts on defense – the Nets are second to last in the NBA in defensive rating at 107.9 (points allowed per 100 possessions). Particularly, guarding the 3 point line has been a tremendous struggle in Brooklyn. The Nets are dead last opponents’ 3 point percentage (41.3%), and are giving up an average of 8 treys a night.
On offense, the story is not as dire, but still alarming. The Nets are in the bottom third in the NBA in basic FG% (43.1%) and effective FG% (47.1%). One factor limiting the Nets’ scoring ability is their pace. They are only averaging 93 possessions per 48 minutes, good for third to last in the NBA. How can the shortcomings on offense and defense been explained? The answers are simple - an aging roster and a lack of effective coaching.
Seeing as the Nets are the second oldest team in the NBA and have the most players over the age of 30, it’s not surprising that defense has been a struggle. Without a proven defensive system such as Gregg Popovich’s in San Antonio, the Nets’ aging roster is devoid of chemistry and cannot rely on athleticism. On offense, the acquisitions of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Jason Terry have largely been a failure. Pierce and Garnett are posting career lows in scoring (12.4 and 6.4 points per game respectively). Pinning the hopes of a win-now team on the shoulders of a pair with 33 seasons of NBA service was a dicey gamble to say the least, but the biggest flaw with Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov’s team is its hapless coach.
Simply put, Jason Kidd has no idea what he is doing. Kidd has no coaching experience at any level of basketball, and it has shown many times this season. The Nets have routinely faced double digit deficits at the end of the first and third quarters – evidence that game planning has been poor and a lack of adjustments are being made in-game. Also, with one of the most experienced and highly paid coaching staffs behind him, what Kidd is responsible for isn’t exactly clear. An NBA scout told Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck, “He doesn’t do anything…He doesn’t make calls. John Welch does all the offense. Lawrence does all the defense…I don’t know what Kidd does”. ESPN’s David Thorpe called him the worst coach in the NBA. Beside his coaching ability, Kidd has ranged from unhinged to slapstick on the sideline. Reports have surfaced that Kidd went on a profanity laden tirade against assistant Lawrence Frank before demoting him. And of course there was Cup-gate, when Kidd was fines $50,000 for purposefully spilling a drink on the court to stop the clock. Desperate times call for desperate measures.
If Kidd cannot get the Nets to turn their season around, desperate won’t be an accurate enough term to describe his position. The Nets have the highest payroll in the NBA at a whopping $101.3 million. With current commitments, they will be over the salary cap until the 2016-2017 season. With regards to the draft, the circumstances are even grimmer. Atlanta has the right to swap first rounders with Brooklyn in both the 2014 and 2015 drafts. Brooklyn’s first rounder goes to Boston in 2016 and 2018, and Boston can swap in 2017. With no cavalry on the way to help his team under duress, Kidd better find a way to light a fire under his team. Or else his coaching career could end as soon as it began.