“He can make his debut finally,” Deron Williams said with a smile after the Nets’ 101-100 victory over the two-time defending champion Heat Friday night in Brooklyn.
After serving a two-game suspension for pleading guilty to driving while ability impaired, Kidd will take the reins from assistant Joe Prunty, who served as acting head coach in Kidd’s absence.
“Definitely,” Williams said when asked if Kidd’s return meant things would return to normal for the Nets. “But I think our coaching staff did a great job of filling in for him. They’re going to be there no matter what. They did a great job, especially [Friday night]. … They made a lot of adjustments out there and did a really good job.”
Williams’ comments are of interest because the assistant coaches on Kidd’s staff will have as much to say about the team’s success from a coaching standpoint as Kidd will in his first season in charge.
No one questions Kidd’s basketball IQ, after playing 19 seasons and putting together a career that’s almost certainly going to land him in the Hall of Fame.
But managing egos, being the one responsible for doling out playing time, and making key adjustments throughout a game or a series in the playoffs are all going to be challenges in this first season — even for someone as tenured as Kidd who has been around the professional game for so long.
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“But that award means most valuable to your team. We finished second in the West, which nobody thought we were going to do at the beginning of the year even when everybody was healthy. We were near the top in having the most injuries. We won our division in a division where every single team made the playoffs.
“There’s so many factors. I led the league in total points scored, minutes played. Like I said, I’m not taking anything away from Steph, but I felt I deserved the Most Valuable Player. That stays with me.”
That’s very Kobe Bryant of you to turn that into fuel. Defining the MVP Award is an annual discussion that nobody agrees on.
I could get into how Harden was the old-school, traditional stats MVP, how that ignores how Steve Kerr used Curry, and how that opened up the Warriors’ offense to championship levels. Curry put up numbers, but he was also the distraction, the bright star that Kerr used to open up looks for Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and others. Curry’s strength was not just what he did with the ball in his hands, but his gravity to draw defenders even when he didn’t. Did the Warriors stay healthier than the Rockets? No doubt. Should Curry be penalized for that?
It’s simple for Harden — if he can put up those numbers again, if he can be the fulcrum of a top offense, he will be in the discussion for MVP again. And, if he can lead the Rockets beyond the conference finals, nobody will talk about that MVP snub anyway.