What Will Jason Kidd’s Return Mean For The Milwaukee Bucks?


With Jason Kidd returning to coach the Milwaukee Bucks against the Orlando Magic on Tuesday, what will change about the team?

Jason Kidd will return to coach the Milwaukee Bucks, and soon. According to an excellent story done by Charles Gardner about this very subject, Kidd has already coached a practice on Monday and will take control of the team for Tuesday’s game against the Magic.

All the talks about conspiracy theories and GM moves can end now, hopefully. The Bucks don’t need drama–no team does. But Kidd seems to have returned from his medical leave with a few ideas about what his Milwaukee Bucks do need.

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High-fives. That was the main focus and title of Gardner’s piece, and it’s something that has not gone unnoticed among Bucks faithful. Milwaukee’s bench looks dead most of the time, apart from a Greivis Vasquez celebration against the Atlanta Hawks.

Other than that, there’s been a whole lot of silence for most of the time the Bucks are on the court. Kidd wants that to change, according to Gardner:

"“It was something I talked with the guys about, cheering each other on. Wins always bring teams closer together, but (for) championship teams losses bring them closer together.“So for us, when we lose, we can’t break apart. We’ve got to become a tighter group. As a young group, sometimes you don’t understand that.”"

This is a vital thing for these young Bucks to focus on right now. Those who follow the team have seen what this group in Milwaukee is capable of when they’re energized and playing like a team–they can beat the best team in basketball on the right night.

The key for the Bucks is making every night the right night. They won’t go undefeated from here on out, but there’s a chance the playoffs are still in reach if Milwaukee can play with the chemistry and energy that the team showcased against the Golden State Warriors.

Kidd championing that movement is huge, because it shows he’s starting to grow as a coach in the same way his players are growing in their basketball careers. It’s been clear since he took over in Milwaukee that his players have a ton of respect for him–hopefully they can take his words to heart and get their energy level up.

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The real fear many Bucks fans have about Kidd’s return is the state of the offense, and more specifically of Khris Middleton falling off now that Joe Prunty is no longer at the helm. Adam McGee went into this in more detail in an earlier piece detailing what to expect from the Jason Kidd-led Bucks, but the difference in Middleton’s numbers bears repeating.

Under Prunty’s lead over the past 17 games, Middleton has scored 22.7 points per game along with recording five assists, four rebounds and just under one steal per contest. He’s shot 50 percent from the field and 42 percent from the three-point line.

In simple terms, he’s been fantastic. Middleton was less fantastic before Prunty took over. The slow-starting Middleton recorded 14.8 points, 3.4 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game, while shooting 40 percent from the field and 42.5 percent from three-point range.

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That slow-starting bit is important in all of this. Last season, Middleton scored over five points more per game after the All-Star break than he did before it, and failed to reach the 15 points per game mark in a month until Feburary.

So maybe it just takes Khris Middleton a little while to shake the rust of, or he just suffers from the inconsistency that plagues all young guys. Either way, it seems premature to lay the blame of Middleton’s slow start on Jason Kidd.

Unless, that is, Middleton starts to flounder under Kidd. Which is not out of the question. But Kidd himself brought up Middleton in Gardner’s article, and seems to be thrilled with the leaps his young wing has made.

"“Khris (Middleton) is playing extremely well and we should all be happy because he can make the game a lot easier for his teammates.“We’re learning how to play when someone has a game going.”"

That second part seems important. Kidd is going to run with Middleton being the best player on the Milwaukee Bucks at the moment, and coach to his team’s strengths as opposed to trying to force any sort of system. That’s a mark of good coaching, and hopefully means fans can expect Khris Middleton’s hot streak to continue.

The final interesting note from Gardner’s piece is that Jason Kidd may not be back to stay quite yet. Kidd’s doctors have yet to allow him to accompany the team on a three-game road trip that’s coming up after the Orlando game.

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How his body holds up during and after the game will probably give them their answer. So for now, the Bucks contest against the Magic is a trial run for coach Kidd. Hopefully he can get healthy and bring an edge to these Milwaukee Bucks before the upcoming crucial stretch of games.