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Monday, June 3, 2013

Jason Kidd and Grant Hill Retire - 1994 Draft Class Complete

Jason Kidd and Grant Hill have both announced their retirements from the NBA.  This ends (unless Juwan Howard wants to be a triple backup for another season) the participation of the draft class of 1994.

Kidd and Hill were co-rookies of the year in their first years in the league.  Both came into the NBA and turned their respective franchises around.  Hill, in his rookie year, helped the Pistons to 8 more wins than the previous year.  By the 2nd year the Pistons were a 46 win playoff team, and his 3rd year they were a 54 win team.

Jason Kidd probably has the title of "Team Improver" locked up for all time.  The Dallas Mavericks (the MavWrecks at the time), became an instant playoff contender with the addition of Kidd.  The 13 win train wreck of a franchise won 36 games in his rookie year - almost singlehandedly by adding Kidd to the roster.

Where Kidd leaves his legacy as a winner is with his record with the New Jersey Nets franchise.  The ABA Nets had Dr. J and a winning reputation.  The NBA Nets were mostly a laughingstock.  No one went to the games in the Meadowlands swamp.  There were a few false starts:  The Chuck Daly / Drazen Petrovic / Derrick Coleman / Kenny Anderson Nets were noteworthy for about two seasons.  Petrovic's death and the retirement of Daly sent the franchise down the drain.  Upon Kidd's arrival in New Jersey (in a trade sending Stephon Marbury to the Suns) the team had six straight playoff appearances, two trips to the finals, and they dominated the Knicks - destroying them in almost every game.  I don't remember the numbers, but the Kidd led Nets had a long streak of wins vs. the Knicks in those years.

A statistical oddity about that draft.  Jason Kidd, a point guard, leads the draft in points scored, assists AND rebounds.  There is no surprise about his assist numbers - 12,091.  It's possible that a point guard would lead his draft in points (Kidd has 17,529) - there have been many high scoring point guards.  It is the rebounding that is the surprise.  8725 rebounds leads the draft - an absurdly high number for a guard.  None of the power forwards or centers in the draft equaled his rebounding output - a rare feat.  This was helped that there were no pure, hard edged power guys in the draft.  There were NO players who retired with a double digit rebounding average from the 1994 class, another statistical oddity that allowed Kidd's statistical dominance to prevail.

Both Hill (when healthy) and Kidd were triple double threats.  Look closely at Hill's numbers at the beginning of his career.  Injuries derailed what would have been a statistically LeBron James-esque career.  Here is what Grant Hill could do before he injured his ankle:




Here is one of the better Jason Kidd highlight videos - worth it just for the passing:


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