At the beginning of the year in a press conference when Jason Kidd was being introduced as the head coach of the Dallas Mavericks he said, “The biggest thing is the defensive side of the ball, you know, we gotta pay a little bit more attention to detail.” Since then there have been frustrations with the Mavs over the course of the season but one thing that can not be denied is the general progress the team has made especially on the defensive side of the ball. As a coach being able to recognize flaws in a team and make adjustments that will improve the team is crucial and frankly indicative of your long-term success.
One of the biggest struggles the team has had is being able to defend in the fourth quarter and close out games. According to NBA.com in the first part of the season in 2021, the Mavs were ranked 18th in their defensive rating in the fourth quarter, so far this year they are ranked 2nd. They have shown major growth and the ability to get quality wins and their record reflects this, as it is the 3rd best record in the league in 2022 (17-6). The shift is prominent enough that after the Mavs versus Miami Heat game, fourteen year head coach Erik Spoelstra said, “I think probably one of the most underrated things about their team (the Mavs) this year is they have a great defense. Maybe in years past they haven’t really dominated games on that end. This year they’ve actually been able to dominate games defensively.”
Since his entry into the NBA a common critique of Luka Doncic’s game is his defensive ability. This season while the team has collectively been playing better defense, in particular, so has Doncic. Last season, Doncic’s defensive rating was 112.7 and while this season is far from over his current rating shows improvement as it is 106.7. Following the game against the New Orleans Pelicans Coach Jason Kidd said, “Sometimes players just need to be asked to do something and we’ve asked him to participate and he’s participated at a very high level for us… the next step is for him to be recognized on one of those All-NBA Defense teams.” From what we’ve seen Kidd and Doncic have a solid relationship and Doncic understands what Kidd is asking of him on the court. This relationship is fundamental to the success of the team as Doncic is also the leader of the team.
While many couldn’t see the long term possibilities of Jason Kidd being the Mavs’ next head coach he is gradually displaying how quickly he can produce concrete results and strong relationships with players. These consistent results could lead him to have major success with the Mavs and allow for a stable coaching situation in Dallas if continued.
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