FanPost

Checking In On an Old Friend, Volume III

Prior to June 28, 2001, the New Jersey Nets were seen as a non-entity in the NBA. They were at the bottom of the New York/New Jersey sports scene, hadn't won a playoff game since the Spring of 1994, hadn't won a playoff series since the Spring of 1984, and were just coming off a 26-56 campaign.

Then, the Jason Kidd trade happened. The All-Star point guard came to New Jersey in exchange for Jersey's All-Star point guard, Stephon Marbury. Quick self promotion: I did a bit about the Kidd-Marbury trade a while back.

When he was here

How was Kidd's run as a member of the Nets? This oughta be fun:

Metric

Jason Kidd

Games Played

506

Minutes per Game

37

True Shooting percentage

50.4

Assist percentage

42.3

Rebound Rate

11.3

Turnover Rate

17.8

Usage Rate

21.7

Win Shares per 48 minutes

.145

PER (Player Efficiency Rating)

19.4

Wins Produced per 48 minutes

.250

Generally speaking, I don't like using a team's success to discuss an individual player. But in this instance, I'll make an exception. During Kidd's tenure, here's how the Nets did:

Two Eastern Conference Championships

Four Atlantic Division Championships

Three trips to the Eastern Conference SemiFinals

Moving on to Kidd's individual play, it's still looking good. Kidd is currently first in the franchise rankings in assists, steals, three pointers made and attempted, and second in total Win Shares. Kidd's tenacious defense and excellent defense helped the Nets reach the Top 10 in defensive rating for five consecutive seasons.

He wasn't a big time scorer on most nights, but he didn't need to be. There were nights when Kidd took on shooting responsibilities, but his great passing abilities helped make stars out of Kenyon Martin and Richard Jefferson as well as revitalize Vince Carter's career and reputation after he quit on Canada.

Why'd he leave?

I think there are two parts to this question. The why part, and the how part. I'll take the why part first.

The Nets had gotten to back to back NBA Finals in a weak Eastern Conference, but the landscape of the East had begun to change in the 2003-2004 season. The arrivals of Lamar Odom and Dwyane Wade in Miami vaulted them right back into playoff contention after going through a two year slump. Jermaine O'Neal's continued development turned the Pacers from a really annoying eight seed to a legitimate NBA Finals contender. Along with those threats, the already dangerous Detroit Pistons picked up Rasheed Wallace at the trade deadline.

With all that danger, the Nets still managed to capture the Atlantic Division crown. There were some issues along the way, as Kidd missed time with a bruised left knee, Alonzo Mourning had to retire & Byron Scott got fired (only to be replaced by Lawrence Frank, who coached Jersey to 13 consecutive wins).

When the playoffs came around, the First Round was very easy, and very, very satisfying. The Nets swept old friend Stephon Marbury and his New York Knicks and turned Jersey native Tim Thomas into "Whiny Tim."

Round Two came, and that was the end. The Nets took a 3-2 lead vs. the Pistons, but that was as far as they got, losing Game 6 at home and then catching a beating in Game 7. The notable thing about this game was Kidd going 0-8 from the field as he battled a knee injury. After the game, Kidd had this to say:

"All the shots looked good, felt good, they just didn't go in," Kidd said. "It's just part of the game.

"There's no excuses. Detroit was the better team."

That offseason, everything changed. Miami took another step towards and picked up Shaq O'Neal from the LA Lakers. As for the Nets, it got ugly. Kenyon Martin got traded to Denver, Kerry Kittles got moved to Los Angeles, and Jason Kidd got really pissed off.

He ended up staying, and with VC & Jefferson, the Nets continued to be a solid team that consistently made the playoffs every year. They got O'Neal and Wade back-to-back postseasons before bowing out in six games to LeBron James and the Cavaliers in 2007.

So we see that the Nets were in the unfortunate position of being "Second Round and Out," so we can understand why the Nets were trying to move Kidd for Lakers Center Andrew Bynum.

Then the 2007-2008 season happened, and it got really ugly. The Nets got off to a poor start, and if you believe New York Magazine, Matt Moore (then of Hardwood Paroxysm), Adrian Wojnarowski, and other reports, then Kidd decided to take a game off because he had a migraine was pissed off at the Nets. Kidd denied the accusation, saying:

"I didn't miss a game due to unhappiness. That's the first thing to clear up," Kidd said as sweat beaded on his forehead. "I was sick."

"Everybody's going to have their own conclusion," he said. "Everybody's going to have their own version. The

only thing I can do is go out there and play hard. I felt that I couldn't help the team. I did everything I was

supposed to. I contacted the trainers and everybody and let them know I couldn't go."

About a month later, Kidd made public his desire to leave. And about three weeks later, he got his wish. When asked if the team was rebuilding, Rod Thorn had this to say:

"Are we rebuilding? No," Thorn said. "We’re trying to win and this trade was something we felt was in the best interests of the team. But whether or not it will help us in the short term, we don’t know that yet."

As history would tell us, the Nets were rebuilding and went through some really, really lean years before being rejuvenated with the move. And judging by Net fan reactions at the time, there was a mix of optimism for Devin Harris, anger at Kidd and the hope that the Nets would be on the upswing with Harris manning the point (that didn't happen).

This year

2012-2013

Jason Kidd

Other Guards

True Shooting %

59.7 52.9

Rebound Rate

8.6 5.9

Usage Rate

13.1 20.15

Turnover Rate

16.7 11.74

Assist Rate

32.78 21.56

Minutes per Game

29.3 21

PER

15.9 15

Wins Produced per 48

.267 .099

Win Shares per 48

.155 .099

Along the way, this happened:

It's been a mostly spectacular season for Kidd. He's spent the majority of his minutes at the shooting guard position, but he's been playing the point since Raymond Felton went down with a broken right pinkie finger. Felton hopes to return by the end of the month, so expect Kidd to resume 2 guard duties then.

Kidd's only shooting 41 percent from the field, but don't let that fool you. He's shooting a career high 41.9 percent from three point range, which is tied with Carmelo Anthony for 14th best in the NBA this year. He's been great shooting the corner threes, as he's converted on 17 of his 39 attempts. Combine the great three point shooting with a career high 90.3 free throw percentage (he's strictly a jump shooter now so it's no surprise he has only 31 attempts at the charity stripe) and it's easy to see why he has a career high True Shooting percentage of 59.7. Kidd isn't as extreme of a spot up shooter as Steve Novak is, but he's been assisted on 73.6 percent of his makes this year.

Kidd's assist rate is down, but I don't think that is entirely attributable to him. As a team, the Knicks are assisted on 53 percent of their made field goals, which is the lowest mark in the Association. For what it's worth, he still dishes out a little over four assists a night in only 29 minutes of action. And most importantly, the offense is better with him on the court. The Knicks average 111 points per 100 possessions with Kidd on the court, vs. a still impressive 109 when he's not in the game.

Kidd's been rebounding a little worse than his career averages, but Kidd has always been an outstanding rebounding guard, so his worst in this area is still pretty great for a guard. His traditionally great defense has taken a step back from where it once was, as opposing two guards have shot an eFG of 49.3 percent against him, which is higher than the average guard has shot this year. On a team level, the NYK are close to four points worse on defense with Kidd on the court.

Writing for The Classical, KnickerBlogger & the New York Times' Jim Cavan dropped some gems about Kidd:

It’s something of an American truism that the more escapist your craft, the quicker the moral redemption. Jason Kidd is not a President, Congressman, or CEO of anything more than his own innocuous brand. Having his kind of transgressive ghosts—all that alleged abuse of others and self—in any of these contexts would’ve meant years of quiet penance. But Jason Kidd plays basketball, and it’s different for him. We forget the packets of police logs in part because time’s a clever thief and in part because the thought of such a joyful player doing something so joyless forces us to forget. He just keeps on along the journey from collegiate phenom to instant impact rookie to Olympian All-Star to he’s a wife beater to doomed Hardwood Hannibal to champion to he might have a drinking problem to surprising twilight bulwark for one of the NBA’s best teams.

He has problems, and he’s transcendent. He’s released, over and over, on his own recognizance, and then he plays basketball like virtually no one ever has. Reconciling the two is not necessary. Kidd is flawed, he fails, he is forgiven or he isn’t—it’s not ours to give, anyway—and then he plays basketball with a grace and graciousness that seems a secret to him everywhere but the hardwood. Jason Kidd redeems himself, rewrites and escapes himself, and we watch. That’s the deal.

How's the Future Looking?

Provided he doesn't do anything life-threateningly stupid, Kidd will be spending two more years with the Knicks. He's not the player he once was, but he's managed to remain productive in his twilight years. If he wanted to, I think Kidd could put together another five seasons of league average play. He's developed into a capable three point shooter in the latter portion of his career, he's still a great rebounding guard and his on-court smarts have never left him. Maybe he'll find his way back to the Nets for a final run one day.

Previous Installments: Derrick Favors

Travis Outlaw

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