The Jason Kidd era in Milwaukee got off to a turbulent start well before he even coached a game.
After a horrendous 2013-14 season where the Bucks went 15-67 under then head coach Larry Drew’s first season, the Bucks shocked the NBA world in the offseason. There were rumblings that the Bucks tabbed then Brooklyn Nets coach Jason Kidd for an interview about the head coaching vacancy. The only problem? Larry Drew was still the coach of the Milwaukee Bucks.
In June of 2014, the Milwaukee Bucks hired Jason Kidd to be their next head coach, pushing Larry Drew out before he was publicly dismissed (after Kidd was already hired). This was a horrible look for the Milwaukee Bucks and the triage of new owners, Marc Lasry, Wes Edens and Jaimie Dinan.
Although Milwaukee was the worst team in the NBA during the 2013-14 season, Larry Drew handled everything with class. He might not have been the greatest coach out there, but he was a gentleman and a professional -he deserved better- As a result of hiring Kidd, Milwaukee was forced to surrender two second-round draft picks to the Brooklyn Nets.
Much to the dismay of Bucks fans, Kidd was seeking to have a final say in all basketball operation decisions. However, the Bucks already had a general manager in John Hammond. Jason Kidd is represented by Excel, and it is no coincidence that this Milwaukee Bucks roster has multiple clients represented by Excel agents or Jeff Schwartz. Even Milwaukee Bucks owner Marc Lasry is close buddies with the prominent NBA agent.
It seemed like Marc Lasry, Wes Edens, and Jamie Dinan was planning to hire Kidd when they bought the team from her Kohl. Edens, Lasry, and Kidd were acquaintances during his tenure in Brooklyn because they both have businesses/properties in the Brooklyn area. Bucks fans were ready for a change, and they needed shot in the arm to rejuvenate a dying fan base. However, the way they went about it was very unprofessional.
Kidd’s first season in Milwaukee was relatively successful. They finished 41-41 (6th in the Eastern Conference) but ultimately lost to the Chicago Bulls in 6 games in the first round. Milwaukee was successful due in large part because of how long and lanky their roster was. They were able to terrorize their opponents by disrupting passing lanes and altering almost every shot at the rim. Milwaukee ended the 2014-15 season with a solid 102.2 Drtg, which was their best since the 2010-2011 season.
Giannis Antetokounmpo wasn’t a household name at the time, but he was still making at least 1 play every game where you had to ask yourself, “did he really just do that?” Khris Middleton, who looked to be an afterthought in the deal that shipped Brandon Jennings to Detroit started to display his marksmanship from three. Although the Bucks lost uber-athletic forward Jabari Parker early in the season, things were looking okay in Milwaukee for once.
However, things went sour very fast in Milwaukee. The following season, the Bucks finished an ugly 33-49 after making a big splash in free agency to lure big man Greg Monroe from Detroit. It seemed like opposing teams were figuring out how the Bucks were going to defend them, and Milwaukee got torched on the defensive end.
The Bucks finished with a forgetful Drtg of 108.7. Although Giannis, Khris, and Jabari were making tremendous strides, the defense has always been an issue. The Bucks are a solid offensive team but defensively is a whole different story.
Milwaukee’s overly-aggressive defensive scheme has left much to be desired since Kidd took over the helm in Milwaukee. An over-committing, blitzing the ball handler, over helping defense has dug the Bucks in an enormous hole that is only getting deeper. Milwaukee got exposed by the Toronto Raptors last season in the first round of the playoffs because of they were able to get whatever look they wanted from the perimeter.
Flash forward to this season, and things have gotten even worse for the Bucks. Right now, Milwaukee ranks dead last in NBA team 3-point defense. Kidd’s overly-aggressive defense has seen opponents hit a blazing 39.9% of their three-pointers this season.
This is much more than just energy and effort, and it’s clear to anyone who watches the Bucks that they need a complete makeover on the defensive end. The Bucks have a porous defensive rating this season of 110.1, and it seems to get worse every game.
The Milwaukee Bucks traded for former Phoenix Suns point guard Eric Bledsoe in a win now move, but the team is going in the opposite direction. The Bucks are a better team with Bledsoe on the floor, but unfortunately, he cannot save this horrible defensive scheme. Good NBA coaches make adjustments every game, and I haven’t seen Kidd make a noticeable adjustment on the defensive end in 3.5 years (yikes).
Although the Bucks have a very talented roster, they are underperforming, to say the least. They have one of the most transcendent talents to ever touch a basketball since LeBron, and they have absolutely nothing to show for it. After a successful stretch of games through late November-early December, the Bucks have reverted back to what they are. Mediocre.
Giannis can only do so much at this point. Granted, Milwaukee is missing a huge piece of the puzzle in Jabari Parker, but news flash, he isn’t going to help fix the defensive deficiencies the Bucks have. Parker is a talented scorer whos addition will certainly be a much-needed welcoming, but his defensive woes might actually hurt the Bucks (especially with this scheme).
Another huge knock on head coach Jason Kidd is his laughable rotations. He seems to enjoy playing DeAndre Liggins who brings nothing to the table. He is an overly aggressive perimeter defender who often commits stupid fouls, and he can’t shoot for the life of him. Liggins plays for about 15 minutes per game, but the team is so bad when he is on the floor.
When he shares the floor with Giannis, the Bucks have a NETRTG of -10.1. Not great, Bob. The Bucks also have an Ortg of 98.2 when he and Giannis play together, which is simply not going to get it done. The Bucks have way better numbers when he is on the bench (9.0 NETRTG, 113.4 Ortg, and a 104.3 Drtg).
The Bucks need to have shooters on the floor at all times to let Giannis operate, but Liggins is the complete opposite. There is absolutely no floor spacing when he plays, and Liggins’ defender often completely abandons him which lets opponents pack the paint.
Kidd reluctantly plays newly brought in offensive spark Sean Kilpatrick, for reasons I don’t even know. Kilpatrick is a scorer, and we’ve seen it in the few games he’s played as a member of the Milwaukee Bucks.
There’s absolutely zero accountability on this Bucks team, and a lot of that falls on the head coach. Before the season started, at media day, Jason Kidd set the bar high for the Bucks by labeling them a playoff team that expects to win 50 games. Last night, however, was the final straw for me.
Following another disappointing loss to the Chicago Bulls, Kidd said that the Bucks are a young team still learning the game of basketball and the expectations that we put on them were too high. You don’t get to say that, especially after you were the one that slapped these lofty expectations on the Bucks. It’s disgusting, and no Bucks fan should stand for this tomfoolery.
Time and time again, seemingly after every disappointing loss, Kidd will go to his usual “we lacked energy and effort tonight.” I’m calling bullshit on that, coach. Granted, there are times where the Bucks look sluggish, but they are a product of their defensive scheme, not energy and effort. The Bucks need someone that holds their players accountable and changes the culture, and Kidd has not done that.
The new owners rebranded the Bucks, and even have a brand-spanking new arena on deck for the 2018 season, but right now; they’re the same old Bucks. Mediocre.