For those who grew up watching Jason Kidd, it is not a surprise that the point guard would eventually become a coach in the NBA. The man is an absolute savant. We've heard numerous stories of Kidd's genius and inherent feel for the game.
Kidd vs. Kobe
Dwane Casey, an assistant for Rick Carlisle's Dallas Mavericks from 2008 to 2011, shared another interesting Kidd story. Swamped on how to contain Kobe Bryant, who was at the peak of his career, Casey turned to Kidd as the guard usually had unique strategies.
“I remember going to him asking him about scouting reports before the game and what he thought, because usually he would see it in a different, out-of-the-box scenario,” Casey said. “I’ll never forget playing the Lakers, his idea was to pick up Kobe Bryant full court. It made sense a little bit, but I thought: wait a minute, you’re a little older than Kobe and you’re picking up full court? Are you going to wear out or is he going to wear out?," Casey said, per mavs.com.
During that time, Kidd was in his mid-30s — considered the retirement age in basketball. For his part, Kobe was in his early 30s — well within his prime. So it made sense that Casey raised his eyebrows at Kidd's solution. But knowing that Kidd knows what he's talking about, Casey allowed the aging guard to do his thing.
“Lo and behold, he wore Kobe out. At the end of the game, he just didn’t have the legs for his shots and it was a very smart move on Jason’s part to pick him up and wear him down. He treated it like a 15-round bout.”
Kidd on Giannis
As expected, Kidd brought this similar mindset when he became a head coach. In his stint with the Milwaukee Bucks, Kidd was tasked to develop a young Giannis Antetokounmpo. After seeing Antetokounmpo's decent handles, speed, and length, Kidd made the radical decision to place him at the point guard spot. According to him, this would develop the Greek's knowledge of the game, not to mention boost his statistics.
Now, it sounds common sense to let a freak like Giannis handle the ball. But back then, the league was still coming to terms with position-less basketball. It was unusual for a player close to seven feet to bring up the ball and orchestrate plays.
It would be foolish to discredit Kidd of Antetokounmpo's development as a player. Yes, Giannis worked his tail off to be an MVP, a Defensive Player of the Year, and an NBA Champion. But Kidd's unique eye for the sport also played a critical part. When you see Giannis get the rebound, run the length of the court in just two dribbles, then slam the ball, you should thank Jason Kidd.