It’s no secret that Jason Kidd’s first calendar year as an NBA head coach has been rocky. The last few days have been no different. In a move that shipped two second-round picks to the Nets, Kidd will now takeover head coaching duties for the Bucks—last season’s worst team in terms of overall record.
The Nets were dealt a terrible hand when starting center Brook Lopez went down for the season with a broken foot in December. To counteract his lack of a center, Kidd orchestrated a longball lineup with each starting player bumping up a position: Kevin Garnett to center, Paul Pierce to power forward, Joe Johnson to small forward, Shaun Livingston to shooting guard, and Deron Williams to the point.
Brooklyn turned a 10-21 start to the 2013 season into a playoff run that ended at the hands of LeBron James and the Miami Heat in the conference semifinals. A team that at one point couldn’t find a buoy caught a ship and sailed it back to a successful year, one step short of a trip to the NBA Eastern conference finals.
Kidd’s longball lineup improved the Nets offense, however, it did not have a large impact on Brooklyn’s defensive game. But, the Nets held opponents to a 0.6 of a percent worse field goal percentage and generated the No. 11 best defense in terms of points allowed per game because their length allowed them to switch onto different players seamlessly. Shaun Livingston, whose wingspan is nearly seven feet, had an overwhelming size advantage on nearly every point guard he matched up with. The same could be said for the other four players on the court.
Milwaukee obviously doesn’t have the same pieces that Brooklyn does, but they aren’t necessarily short on length. Giannis Antetokounmpo has a 7-foot-3 wingspan, and John Henson, Ersan Ilyasova, Larry Sanders, and Brandon Knight all have cables for arms. If Kidd were to implement a similar approach in Milwaukee, the mechanism of length could certainly aid the Bucks—who finished No. 25 in the league in points allowed per game (103.7) last season.
Having drafted Jabari Parker, who will most likely shoulder most of his minutes at power forward, this presents an immediate conundrum. Parker has the ability to be an incredible talent as a stretch-4, but playing a 6-8 small forward also has its advantages. Their second round pick, Damien Inglis, has the versatility to guard multiple positions, as well.
Here’s what could happen if Kidd’s transition to the Bucks yields the exact same improvements and retrogressions made in Brooklyn in his first year of coaching.
Milwaukee would jump five spots on the league rankings to No. 23 in points per game, rise eight spots to No. 18 in field goal percentage, become the No. 3 team in the league in opponent turnovers per game, but would fall down to No. 28 in the league in points allowed per game.
There’s no way of knowing if Jason Kidd brings his innovative system to the Bucks, but it’s worth noting that they could become a team that won just 15 games last season to formidable opponents.
Josh Planos has had his work featured at Rivals, Bleacher Report, Denver Post, CBS Sports Radio, Fox Sports Radio, and ESPN Radio, and is currently a columnist for the ESPN TrueHoop Network and FanSided. He loves interacting with readers via Twitter (@JPlanos).