To start, I want to make this clear I am only speaking from a basketball standpoint. Kidd’s outside troubles with the DWI and Spousal Abuse are not my concern for this article and can be debated if he deserves to coach in the NBA another time.
That being said, making the case for Kidd to be the 76ers next head coach isn’t an easy one given his track record. As a player Kidd achieved many accomplishments such as rookie of the year, 10 time all-star, NBA Champion, 5 time all NBA team, and plenty more awards. There is no denying Kidd’s ability as a player on the court, but as a coach the accomplishments aren’t really there.
In 2013 Kidd was named the head coach of the Brooklyn Nets, where after a rocky start he helped turn the team around and finished 44-38 on the year. Kidd even won 2 coach of the month awards, and a first-round playoff series before losing in the second round to the Miami Heat. This would be Kidd’s most impressive time as a head coach. However, Kidd’s stay would be short in Brooklyn, it was rumored that Kidd wanted more management power and Kidd was eventually denied and traded to the Milwaukee Bucks for two second-round picks.
With the Bucks, Kidd’s biggest accomplishment was the growth of now MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. Giannis credited Kidd with his growth in an interview:
“He was a big part of my success,” Antetokounmpo said. “He trusted me, he put the ball in my hands, he motivated me on a daily basis, he pushed me to be great and not to be mediocre.”From “Giannis Antetokounmpo Says Jason Kidd Firing Made Him Feel ‘Unconfortable'” by Tyler Conway January 24, 2018
The case can be made that if Kidd can help Giannis make the leaps he did, in theory, he should be able to do the same for Ben Simmons. Especially with Ben being more of a point guard, he and Kidd have things in common and therefore Kidd could teach Ben how to become great at the game. But is that enough for the 76ers to hire Kidd as a head coach?
Outside of Giannis’ improvement, Kidd’s time in Milwaukee is relatively underachieving. Kidd’s overall record with the Bucks was 139-152, they made the playoffs twice and never made it out of the first round. And while Giannis was able to thrive and get better working with Kidd, young players around him struggled and started to break down. Giannis spoke about this in a talk with Yahoo Sports Chris Haynes:
“I was used to [former Bucks coach] Jason Kidd. He was breaking us down, but I was happy about it. I think I think I was the only one that was embracing that. I came from nothing and worked hard every day. That’s what I was used to.”
“Having Jason Kidd was fun. Obviously, we didn’t break through the first round, but it’s different. Like, if this is the middle, Jason Kidd was right here and Mike Bud is way over there [in coaching philosophy]. They’re totally different. Mike Bud wants you to rest, he wants you to stay with your family, but the day we work out, he wants you to be there and he wants you to give everything.”From “Giannis Antetokounmpo: Any team that bets on Jason Kidd influence is likely to be left devastated” by Adam McGee July 2020
How does the difference in coaching philosophy factor into the 76ers job? On one hand, the team is coming off a coach in Brett Brown that is said to be light-handed and a players coach, so a reverse course on that, with a coach that is going to push the players and get them into a next gear may be a good thing. But there is the idea of overworking players, as you can see in Milwaukee the only player who responded to Kidd’s way was Giannis, and not every player has that kind of mindset.
Being an NBA head coach requires the ability to be tough, balance personalities, and help players who aren’t built to be superstars. This is why I like the “back-up QB” theory for head coaches, these guys generally are able to understand the non-superstar player better. Kidd was a great player, there is no denying that, but as far as a coach he hasn’t shown he can reach players not named Giannis Antetokounmpo. That, plus an underachieving record and limited success in the playoffs would make Kidd lower on my list of potential candidates. In Kidd’s defense, it has been said that Lebron James loves the current assistant coach and ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz’s said James thinks Kidd is the “only person alive who sees the game of basketball with his level of clarity.”
In my opinion, as much as it would be amazing for a guy like Kidd to try to take Ben to the next level, his lack of success as a head coach and his inability to reach other role players would make me think twice about making him the 76ers next head coach. Although it doesn’t seem it, with the Sixers being swept in the first round, the team needs to find a coach that is going to help them get over the playoff hump. Given that Joel Embiid is set to become an unrestricted free agent in 2023, the time to figure this out is now. There may not be a coach who can do that, given the current roster construction, but that doesn’t mean the 76ers should settle for a developmental coach. With two superstars like Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, a trade or two, and some growth from younger players the team’s goal should be to compete for a title, and Jason Kidd has shown nothing in his time as a head coach that he has the ability to do that.