Jason Kidd: Nets will show more movement this season
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Jason Kidd didn't need any numbers to back it up. His eyes told him all he needed to know.
As Kidd peered through some game footage of the team's inaugural season in Brooklyn, the Nets new coach probably felt like he was in the midst of summer reruns. The same scene virtually kept playing out: the ball oftentimes stuck on offense courtesy of excessive one-on-one play, particularly with Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez.
In the aftermath of the Nets' crushing first round playoff series defeat to the Bulls, Johnson, who's been slapped with the "Iso Joe" label during the latter years of his career, suggested he'd like to see more motion and less isolation. Sounds like he's about to get his wish.
"That's perfect," Kidd said Tuesday during a sitdown interview with Newsday. "What we are trying to get to is a little bit more movement. When I've looked at the video of going backwards through the season, there was just too much iso. In this league, the elite defensive teams will be able to take you out of that. So my job with Joe is to put him in a position, because he has the total package.
"He can pass, he can shoot, he can create his own shot. So as a coach, you give them a structure and you kind of get them to play through that."
Ball movement wasn't exactly a priority for the Nets. According to Synergy, a basketball analytics company, the Nets utilized an iso look on 13.7 percent of their possessions, which was fourth-most in the NBA, trailing only the Knicks (15.5), Kings (14.3) and Thunder (14.2). The Nets scored .877 points per isolation possession, which was also fourth-best in the league behind the Heat (.922), Thunder (.899) and Clippers (.884).
Now, with a starting five that's expected to include Johnson, Deron Williams, Brook Lopez, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett once the trade with the Celtics becomes official later this week, the Nets will have myriad offensive options. Kidd is going to preach versatility -- and hammer home the importance of swinging the ball around the floor.
"We have some similar players on the roster, so it kind of helps that Joe can start the offense, and he can end the offense," Kidd said. "But in between [have] a little bit of movement, where he can set a screen for someone, get someone open where that person he set the screen for will draw attention where he can get a wide-open shot, catch and shoot. The offense is for not just Joe, but for everybody where it's not stressful. It's simple. It's easy. It's a catch-and-shoot, it's a read."
Kidd wants the same thing from Johnson that he's expecting from everyone else. Forget about stats and shots, fellas. Focus on the ring.
"The bigger picture of the whole thing -- not just Joe -- but the whole team has to sacrifice," Kidd said, "and that will be something that we'll talk as a team, as a goal that champions sacrifice not just on the offensive end, but on the defensive end in a sense of giving a little bit of extra effort, being able to help off if a guy gets beat. Those intangibles are something that I will look for from Joe because he's been in this league and he showed what he can do."
Some outsiders believe Johnson is going to morph into a $20-million plus per year jumpshooter, unable to adjust his game. But Johnson, with his 6-7, 240-pound frame, is also adept at posting up and operating on the low blocks -- particularly against smaller guards. It's a tactic the Nets didn't employ all that often in 2012-13.
Kidd, however, plans on running plays for Johnson down by the basket.
"Yeah, Joe can post," Johnson said. "When you look at the guards, D-Will and Joe are big, and so I can look at Joe posting up out of the offense, where he can create a double team that he can pass out of. Those are the types of things when you talk about sacrifice -- being able to create the double teams where he can now become a playmaker. He can do that and he's shown that. So in the offense, he will get a lot of chances to post up."
Just don't anticipate seeing Johnson -- or Pierce for that matter -- constantly on the wings with the balls in their hands, dribbling non-stop as they try to break down the defense one-on-one while everybody else stands around and watches.
"You look at the league as a whole -- we'll use the two teams [in the finals] Miami and San Antonio -- they are teams that kind of stayed away from iso and moved the ball around and there was multiple touches," Kidd said. "That's what we are trying to get to, being able to move the ball. Sacrifice is something I might say a lot. Something you'll [also] hear me say a lot is making a play for a teammate.
"Don't be afraid to let go of the ball because a lot of times, when you do let go of the ball, the ball will find you. And so, that's something that we are going to get away from, because against the great defenses in this league, you won't be able to win a seven-game series."