The NBA announced yesterday that Nets head coach Jason Kidd was named the Eastern Conference Coach of the Month for January.
Kidd led the Nets to a 10-3 record during the month, which included key victories over the Heat, Thunder and Warriors. Brooklyn’s record soared from 10-21 at the start of the month to a more respectable 20-24 by its end.
After the Nets made the blockbuster trade to bring Celtics stars Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to Brooklyn, the team was expected to compete for a championship. Despite the Nets’ league-leading payroll of $103 million, however, they got off to an incredibly slow start.
When center Brook Lopez was lost for the season due to a foot injury on Dec. 20, the Nets’ record was 9-17 and many critics dismissed them as serious contenders. Kidd, the first-year head coach, was highly criticized for the team’s poor play, with many asking whether his hiring was premature.
Due to their solid January, however, the Nets have jumped into the playoff picture and are currently in seventh place in the Eastern Conference. The defense vastly improved during the month, with the Nets holding opponents under 100 points in nine of their 13 games.
Kidd became just the fourth player in NBA history to win monthly honors as both a player and coach, and joins Jeff Hornacek as just the second player to do so with the same franchise.