The Knicks made a myriad of offseason pickups this summer – especially players that are in the declining parts of their careers (Jason Kidd 39, Rasheed Wallace 38, Marcus Camby 38, Kurt Thomas 40, and Pablo Prigioni 35). The team and fans knew that while they would offer great veteran leadership and experience, the x-factor on them being contributors to the team would be staying healthy. Besides Camby’s calf injuries and plantar facilities, Wallace’s foot injury, the old guys have held up pretty well. For the big guys, this is in large part due to their limited minutes – Camby 9.7 MPG, Wallace 13.3MPG, and Thomas 10.4 MPG. The guards however are smaller in size so they are less prone to these types of old-age injuries, so they have averaged more minutes – Prigioni 14.1 MPG, and Kidd 29.7 MPG.
With Felton out for 4-6 weeks due to a broken finger, Prigioni and Kidd have seen an increase in minutes to make up for Felton’s point guard play. Prigioni has spiked from 14.1MPG to 19.8MPG and Kidd has jumped from 29.7MPG to 30.2 MPG. I’m not worried bout Prigioni at all – he’s on a non-dairy diet which he supposedly says makes his body stronger and keeps him in better shape. However, I am worried about Kidd with Felton’s absence.
There are 2 different topics I want to bring up relating to Kidd’s increase in minutes. The first topic is unrelated to Felton’s absence.
1. In the month of November, Kidd averaged 26.1 MPG, and in the month of December, Kidd averaged 32.9 MPG. This increase is unacceptable if you want a near-40 year old that has 18 years of hardwood under his old knees, to stay healthy for 82 games and be fresh in the playoffs. We all witnessed Kidd’s back injury with his Dallas team last year that sidelined him 26 games sporadically through the shortened season.
One reason that there have been increases is after an unbelievable 18-5 start, they have started to cool off and games have gotten a lot closer down the stretch. This means no more 4th quarter resting by Kidd. The other reason is Felton’s performance has dropped off dramatically in the past weeks. In December Felton was shooting 42% FG and 40% 3P. In January Felton shot 38%Fg and 30% 3P.
The second topic is related to Felton’s absence.
2. If you look at it by the numbers, you can obviously see that in the 5 games without Felton, Kidd has only played on average .5 MPG more, which doesn’t seem like something to take note of. While this might true, it’s Kidd’s shift from the shooting guard position to the point guard position that is making the difference. Offensively he has to deal with being the main distributor, spacing the floor, receiving pressure up the court from quick guards and just overall being the floor general. Trust me I’ve had to deal with getting the ball up the court with a quick, strong defender riding me the whole time and it is tiring and not fun.
On the defensive end, Kidd in the past 5 games has had to guard Gordan Dragic of the Suns, Isaiah Thomas of the Kings, Damian Lillard of the Trail Blazers, Tony Parker of the Spurs, and Jameer nelson of the Magic. Those are not easy guys to cover at age 39. Kidd is still a great defender, but when these guys are 10-15 years younger, the explosiveness is not even comparable.
With point guards dominating the league, this is the hardest obstacle for Kidd when he has to be the main point guard on the team. But when Felton comes back and Kidd plays more of the 2 spot, and/or when Shumpert comes back and Kidd will move to the backup point guard role off the bench, hopefully Kidd can return to realistic MPG in the mid-20s. However, in the mean time, maybe Woodson should consider playing Kidd less minutes now, even if it may bring a few more losses. No one thought that Kidd would have such an impact on this Knicks team and be so crucial down the stretch, but we need him to stay healthy for the duration of the season and be fresh in the playoffs.