Court Vision: First-time coach Jason Kidd deserves a tip of the hat for Nets' resurgence
• When the Nets were neck-deep in early-season losses, Jason Kidd took heat for his coaching inexperience and perceived lack of activity from the bench. Yet with the team now fully turned around -- having gone 24-10 since the turn of the calendar year -- Kidd hasn't quite been given his due. In addressing the Nets' winning ways on the whole, Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don't Lie took occasion to notice Kidd's work among other contributing factors:
With Garnett, scoring center Brook Lopez, and Andrei Kirilenko (who left Sunday’s game with an ankle sprain in another injury-plagued season) in and out of the lineup, Jason Kidd has made it work. The backcourt of Williams and journeyman guard Shaun Livingston are filling the holes in one’s head with the bumps in another’s, Pierce and Johnson continue to ham and egg it well on the wing, and the team continues to thrive defensively in spite of starting a rookie (the excitable Mason Plumlee) at center while handing big minutes to non-defenders like Andray Blatche and the recently-acquired Marcus Thornton.
The small lineups are closing out well, and denying penetration just enough to circle the wagons while Garnett sits.
That’s clearly a credit to Kidd, who had many wondering if he was an empty suit earlier in the season, especially in the wake of the rookie coach re-assigning Lawrence Frank, and an anonymous report from a scout that claimed that Kidd “doesn’t do anything” while on the bench.
...The schedule has helped, the players are in better shape, and the rest of the league has failed to come up with an effective counter to the team’s smaller lineup. But, yes, Jason Kidd has taken some risks and they’ve paid off.
• Fans of either professional or collegiate basketball owe it to themselves to read Tom Ziller's latest on the relationship between the NCAA and the NBA. More specifically, Ziller addresses the role of star prospects at both levels and the parties who stands to benefit most from their presence therein:
What makes March Madness special isn't necessarily the presence of guys like Wiggins or Parker. Anyone remember Kevin Durant's tournament run? But you do remember the one Mario Chalmers, Brandon Rush and Sasha Kaun had. The tournament is about upsets, catching lightning in a bottle and the magic of constant do-or-die situations. How many people dying with every possession as Mercer beat Duke on Friday knew anything about Mercer? We've been following Duke's Parker for years -- NBA fans, college fans and the like -- yet it's Mercer that captivated everyone on Friday, not the phenom wing player.
That speaks to the tournament's power: it doesn't need stars because it can make stars of anyone. It's a brilliant competition. Of the top 14 in DraftExpress' current mock, only three of them -- Julius Randle, Aaron Gordon and Willie Cauley-Stein -- are still in the tournament. And that won't matter one whit to the NCAA, because everyone (myself and loads of NBA partisans included) will be watching Cinderella do her thing.
• Seth Rosenthal of Posting and Toasting on where the Knicks' latest blunder leaves them:
This was a thoroughly Knicks-y loss, a reminder that the same stinking Knicks lurked beneath those sunny mid-March vibes. Faced with a genuine challenge, the Knicks tucked their tails between their legs and cowered. All the cunning use of picks and smart ball movement faded. The Knicks became feeble, stagnant, and familiarly over-reliant on an increasingly ineffective Melo.
That kind of loss feeds my lingering sentiment of not really wanting to watch these Knicks in the playoffs. I've rarely seen them fight. Most of the time, they either coast or perish. Since eighth seeds don't typically coast through playoff games, I suspect they'd just become a practice dummy for some championship contender.
• For a brief moment on Monday afternoon, former NBA swingman Quinton Ross was presumed dead due to shaky reporting. What a mess. • There exists video of Kendrick Perkins getting a kiss from a sea lion. The internet is a marvelous place.