The Milwaukee Bucks decided to move on from the Jason Kidd era amidst an underwhelming 2017/18 campaign. Having started so promisingly and seemingly on the brink of a major breakthrough for the last three seasons, where did it all go wrong for Kidd?
Kidd’s tenure in Milwaukee was plagued by inconsistency. In 2014, he took over a team that had finished dead last in the Eastern Conference with a paltry 15 wins. In his first season, Kidd oversaw a remarkable turnaround as the Bucks finished with a 41-41 record and made the playoffs. The young Bucks seemed poised for big things.
However, the following season Milwaukee regressed and missed the playoffs following a 31-win season. Although they bounced back last term, finishing with the only winning record of Kidd’s time in Milwaukee, this season has again been plagued by inconsistency.
When Kidd was fired, the Bucks stood in eighth position in the East, barely clinging on to a playoff berth with a 23-22 record. Throughout his four years with the team, the Bucks have never been significantly better than a .500 team.
Milwaukee's ownership finally decided that a roster with the talent they posses should be much better. With a jumbled Eastern Conference, Milwaukee feel that with a change they can make serious moves up the standings. They may even secure home court advantage in the first round of the postseason.
Too reliant on Giannis
Milwaukee’s future undoubtedly rests in the enormous hands of Giannis Antetokounmpo. The ‘Greek Freak’ has had an outstanding season and has been one of Kidd’s staunchest defenders. According to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, Antetokounmpo called Kidd when he heard he was to be fired to see if he could do anything to reverse the decision.
Despite Antetokounmpo’s dominant displays this eason, Kidd had trouble creating a flowing offense centered around his young star. Too often, Giannis’ teammates would defer to him and let him use his generational physical gifts to get buckets.
Whenever Antetokounmpo was off the floor, the ball seemed to move a little more freely and the offense didn’t get bogged down so often. Despite the support he had from his star player, Kidd’s inability to construct a coherent offense surrounding Giannis was a key factor in Milwaukee’s decision to part ways.
Defensive inconsistency is not unusual for young teams. You only have to look at the teething problems Tom Thibodeau had in his first season in Minnesota to see the issues a young team can have at that end of the court.
Jason Kidd’s Bucks had been consistently infuriating on defense during his coaching tenure, ranking near the bottom of the league in defensive rating in each of his three seasons. What has made Milwaukee’s defense all the more frustrating is that they have all the physical tools to boast an exceptional rearguard.
Milwaukee have the length and extreme athleticism throughout their roster to cause the opposition serious problems. Oklahoma City’s defensive performance against the Golden State Warriors in the 2016 playoffs, where they used their length to crowd the passing lanes and harass the Warriors into mistakes, should have been the blueprint for Milwaukee.
However, Kidd’s ultra aggressive blitzing style, which values steals and defections above all else, was surely a factor in the Bucks’ poor defensive performances. When you blitz as often as Milwaukee did under Kidd you risk giving the opposition easy baskets if communication is not flawless. Young players tend to struggle most with that aspect of defensive schemes, failing to rotate precisely to help when needed. The combination of an aggressive scheme and poor communication probably put the final nail in the coffin for Kidd.
Since Kidd was fired, interim head coach Joe Prunty has simplified the Bucks defensive scheme and has reaped the benefits as the Bucks have climbed the standings. Sitting in fifth position at the time of writing, the Bucks are looking up rather than down.
Milwaukee’s decision to move on from Jason Kidd seems to have been quickly vindicated.
Was firing Kidd the right call? Comment below!