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Did the Knicks Break Jason Kidd?

Posted By Howard Megdal On February 7, 2013 @ 12:00 pm In Roster construction | Comments Disabled

Over the past six games, Jason Kidd’s performance has dropped just a little.

[1]In his first 36 games, Kidd shot better than 42 percent from the field, just over 41 percent from three, four assists per game, and nearly 30 minutes per contest.

In his last six games, Kidd shot 16.7 percent from the field, 13.6 percent from three, 1.7 assists per game and 16.2 minutes per contest.

So, not as good.

The easy narrative is that Kidd needed to play more, and take on a more onerous workload, once Raymond Felton got hurt. But it is worth noting that Kidd averaged 29.4 minutes per game prior to Felton’s pinky injury, 29.7 while he was out. So the minute toll didn’t change much. What he did on the floor did, however. He collected more assists in Felton’s absence, but actually shot more threes as well. So the Knicks asked a great deal of Jason Kidd, all season, and more with Felton absent.

Now, with Felton back, and Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith both around to soak up time at shooting guard, the Knicks shouldn’t, and aren’t, asking Kidd for nearly as much time. The concern is, even with his minutes greatly reduced of late, Kidd simply isn’t having a meaningful effect on the game. Whether this is a slump, or something more concerning, is a question made relevant by both Kidd’s age (39) and the back injury he’s battled all season.

A reason for optimism: asking Kidd to hit threes and play roughly 30 minutes was perfectly reasonable for him as recently as last season, when he shot 35.4 percent from three and played 28.7 minutes per game for the Dallas Mavericks. The season before, he shot 34 percent from three while playing 33.2 minutes, and Dallas won an NBA title. So if healthy, asking Kidd to shoot the three and handle, say, 25 minutes would appear a reasonable request. Players don’t, however, always age in easily-defined linear patterns.

The Knicks are doing the right thing with Kidd by giving him fewer minutes and seeing how he recovers. ┬áBut Kidd was a significant part of the team’s 20-8 start. He kept them afloat in Felton’s absence. But there’s no guarantee he’ll be able to play a similar role in their finish.

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