There are plenty of things that have marked the successful start to Steve Nash’s coaching career. There’s the Nets hot start, the fact that he was named Eastern Conference coach of the month for February, and the obvious fact that he’s been able to meld together three superstars without anything imploding.
But while all this is true, DeAndre Jordan noted another thing that’s distinguished Nash so early in his tenure: And it’s just as much about what he’s not doing as what he is.
"I think him being able to require things out of us and then also let us police ourselves is great," Jordan said Wednesday after shootaround, a day after Nash earned his monthly honors alongside James Harden, who was named Eastern Conference player of the month. "Some coaches may not have that ability to do that or they might not want to give up that control to let the players police themselves at times, but I think he does a really great job trying to let guys figure it out, and then if we’re not figuring it out, then he steps in and takes that responsibility. But all up and down the line, I think he's done a really great job."
And though Nash eschewed praise for himself Wednesday — he said the award came courtesy of his players, his coaching staff and his performance team — he did say that this particular aspect of the job came easily. He was, after all, a player himself for 20 years, and a highly-respected leader, at that. In short, he knows that you don’t need to overcoach to get results, and that sometimes — especially with guys like Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving and Harden — it can stop a great team from being exceptional.
"Coming from a place where I was a player, I wanted to encourage these guys to problem solve, to communicate," Nash said before the Nets were set to take on Houston in the first-half finale. "That’s growth to me. If you can problem solve, critical think, communicate on the fly, you’re building something that can be very helpful down the road. As a former player, I think it was really important to me to allow them their voice, allow them to connect, allow them to hold each other accountable, because it’s not just about the problem solving, it’s also about growing together and forming deeper bonds."
The last Nets coach to earn monthly honors was Jason Kidd in 2014, and Nash is only the fifth Nets coach to ever earn the award. The last time the Nets had a duo earn player of the month and coach of the month was in 2007, with Vince Carter and Lawrence Frank. Nash said his award was more a natural result of Harden getting recognized. Jordan, though, was willing to give his coach some credit.
"His IQ is at the top of the charts," Jordan said of Nash. "I think he’s a great player’s coach. He has a great relationship with the guys, one through 15 and he asks a lot of us at times. And at times he lets us please ourselves, so having a guy like that at the helm is really great and to see him rewarded for coach of the month is awesome. Hopefully, we’ll see a lot more of those."