Ahead of the their regular season clash in London on Thursday, Atlanta Hawks’ coach Mike Budenhozler and ex-Hawk Steve Smith are impressed with the progress that Brooklyn Nets’ rookie coach Jason Kidd is making.
Brooklyn have found a winning mentality so far in 2014 and Budenhozler, a former assistant coach in San Antonio believes that Kidd’s experience as a point guard in his 19 years playing has helped him grow as a coach, especially as he made the change so rapidly.
“He’s shown he’s going to be a very impressive coach in our league in my opinion,” Budenhozler said. “He’s been making decisions as a point guard and now he’s making them as a coach.”
Smith, a former NBA Champion with the Spurs played five seasons with Atlanta and he echoes Budenhozler’s remarks.
“It’s definitely not easy, but if there’s one player over the years that players called a coach on the floor it’s definitely Jason Kidd,” Smith said. “In my opinion everything is magnified because it’s the Brooklyn Nets – the stars that he acquired, the Paul Pierce’s the Kevin Garnett’s and already having Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez. When you’re in New York everything is magnified by three, both your losses and your wins.”
The Nets, tipped to be one of main contenders from the Eastern Conference were a woeful 10-21, heading into 2014, but they have turned their fortunes around and they have won the first five out of six games in the New Year.
In contrast, the Hawks have lost four out of six in 2014 but still own a winning record at 20-18, good enough for second spot in the Southeast Division. Both teams head to London having lost their last games; Nets lost to Toronto and the Hawks were edged by Memphis.
Despite the slight dip in form, the Hawks coach feels that a trip to London will be beneficial for his side.
“For the Hawks it’s important for us to experience another country and other culture, and we get to spend time with each other and bond,” Budenholzer said. “The more time we spend with each other and the more we get to know each other the more this reflects on the court.”
Brook Lopez (knee) and Al Horford (chest) have season-ending injuries and won’t play on Thursday. Nets guard Deron Williams (ankle) will not travel to London.
Atlanta and Brooklyn have faced each other very recently on January 6, with the Nets winning 91-86 at the Barclays Center.
Hawks guard Kyle Korver will travel to London with his three-point streak at 107 games.