Jun 13 2013

Nets hire Kidd: Very cool, kind of dumb

Sixers fans can now look down their noses at other teams moves. Behold the power of Hinkie. 


Billy-KingThe Nets introduced Jason Kidd as their new head coach on Thursday.

This move was welcomed by nostalgics and people who think Jason Kidd was a great basketball player–which is, approximately, everyone. Over at the excellent Nets blog The Brooklyn Game, Justin DeFeo took Twitter’s temperature after the hire was announced and found the same: every person who’s employed in professional basketball in any capacity loves this move.

And why not? Jason Kidd was an excellent professional basketball player (even better than is widely recognized), he was excellent for reasons that should make him a strong head coach (i.e., his success seemed to stem more from an understanding of the game than from a set of overwhelming physical abilities), and because of the magnitude and recency of his success, he should command a unique respect from his players. These factors should all conspire to make him, at least, a very effective head coach. Right? 

Maybe. Consider this clunky analogy: the ability to play smart, Jason Kidd-like basketball is a lot like an app a player has installed in their brain. This “NBA Player App” enables its owner to process the information their senses pick up while they’re on the basketball court, and then helps them make optimal decisions on the basis of this information. Set a pick here, speed up the tempo there, etc. Jason Kidd clearly has this app, but we don’t really have any reason to believe he is any good at installing it in the minds of other players. Having the app, in others words, is separate from understanding how the app works–and both of these areas of knowledge are distinct from the ability to install the app in other heads. The Nets confused a great doer with a great teacher.

Now, it’s possible that none of this will matter very much. With the exception of a select few, coaches don’t have that much of an impact on the game, and plus, Kidd might turn out to be a great one anyway. But even if the hire works out–if the Nets don’t regret impetuously pulling the rug out from under Brian Shaw and handing the team over to Kidd–it gives us a stark reminder of a fact that will have no small impact on the 76ers future: the Nets are not a smart basketball team.