Of all the tinkering in the margins that the Mavericks did during this NBA offseason, it is likely that the biggest change the team will have this year will come from the sideline—where Jason Kidd is now the head coach. No doubt, the team respected veteran coach Rick Carlisle, who led the Mavericks to that memorable 2011 NBA championship over the Heat, but Kidd has brought a more relatable sensibility to the Mavs staff.
After all, Kidd is just 48 and most players on the Dallas roster grew up watching him play—he retired in 2013. Carlisle is 61 and last appeared in an NBA game in 1989, before all of the current Mavericks, except Boban Marjanovic, were born.
With the Mavericks having gone to an impressive 3-0 following Wednesday’s blowout over the Hornets, a 68-point blowout, Kidd appears to be getting the most out of his group.
“I think, not to knock on the coaching staff of previous years, I think with guys growing up and watching the game of basketball, especially with my age and we got a lot of young guys, they saw J-Kidd, they saw him playing,” guard Tim Hardaway Jr. said.
Hardaway is 29 and one of the older Mavericks on the roster. He also watched Kidd a lot against his father, Tim Hardaway Sr. But the younger Mavs can relate, too.
“They saw him get drafted and saw him going against the MJs, saw him going against LeBron and teaming up with Dirk here and winning the championship here,” THJ said. “I think it kind of gives guys a better understanding, I would say, moving forward and hearing him out. But I think it is all part of the process. It is a whole new staff, everybody is getting to know each other still.”
Mavericks Offense Has Been Most Productive of NBA Preseason
While the Mavericks’ defensive numbers are obviously skewed by holding Charlotte to 59 points, the offense has been humming in the preseason. The Mavs are averaging 120.0 points in the preseason, most in the NBA, despite relatively modest production from the all-important 3-point line.
The Mavs are making 12.0 3-pointers per game, only 17th in the NBA’s preseason. They’re shooting 33.0% on their attempts, which is 21st. That is something that bears watching with Kidd at the helm—when he last coached in the NBA, with Milwaukee in 2017-18, the Bucks made 8.8 3-pointers for the season, 27th in the league. Milwaukee also made 8.8 per game the previous season under Kidd, which ranked 22nd.
The Bucks never finished in the Top 20 in 3-pointers made in three-plus seasons under Kidd. But Kidd insisted last week that his history, and the early part of this preseason, does not show these Mavs won’t shoot from the arc.
“I don’t want anybody to panic that we’re not going to shoot 3s,” Kidd said, per Mavs.com. “We’re going to shoot threes. But when you look at the way KP (Kristaps Porzingis) is playing inside and out, it’s a plus for us. And the rotations. Guys have only played a half. As we go forward, I think you’ll see more threes go up, but still being consistent in trying to get the ball inside first trying to take the easy two or get to the free-throw line.”
Kristaps Porzingis Thrives Playing Inside-Out
Porzingis has been a big benefactor of the arrival of Kidd so far, playing more in the post as Kidd stated. That has allowed him to be a bigger part of the offense, which was not the case under Carlisle. Porzingis has averaged 13.0 points in 19.3 minutes in three preseason games.
Hardaway said the new setup with Kidd, while players are still adjusting, has been a positive for the team.
“It’s been great,” Hardaway said. “I think everybody is still getting used to the new concepts and the new regimen of the practices and the daily scheduling. But other than that, with a little bit of communication, a little bit of the guys knowing each other very well from previous years and everybody just having fun, everything will just take care of itself.”