When Rick Carlisle departed for Indiana, Mavs fans began to fear the worst. “NO Jason Kidd” was all but trending on Twitter for hours after Carlisle’s surprising resignation from the team he so expertly led for 13 years. But since his equally unexpected hiring, the Hall-of-Fame point guard has been absolutely stellar at the helm of this team.
Dallas’s turnaround defensively is getting people’s attention. Their two recent wins over Golden State both featured a remarkable erasure of Steph Curry in the final minutes of the game. Few teams throughout Curry’s career have come even close to pulling that off. The Mavs have also beaten Memphis on the strength of their defense three different times this year. For whatever reason, despite numerous discussions about improving on that side of the ball, this team never quite turned it around under Rick Carlisle.
For all the noise about losing Jamahl Mosley, and there was plenty, Dallas’s defense was never top ten in the league under his leadership, and Orlando does appear poised for the first overall pick in the draft this coming year. Kidd’s first masterful stroke was bringing in a dream team of assistant coaches. Igor Kokoskov was one of the best hires Dallas has made in a long, long time.
The former head coach is a second father to Doncic, and has brought a completely new layer to the Dallas offense that newcomers Spencer Dinwiddie and Reggie Bullock are thriving under. Sean Sweeney, responsible for the team’s defense, has put the Frank Vogel-style scheme in practice to perfection. The bottom line is, for one season, Jason Kidd’s stewardship has been everything the Mavericks can hope for and then some.
One of the biggest draws Brooklyn, Milwaukee, and Dallas all saw in hiring Kidd is his well-established relationships around the league. While Maverick fans practically roll their eyes at the prospect of free agency at this point, we should at least give Kidd, Jared Dudley, and Nico Harrison a chance to sit at the table with prospective free agents. That said, the crop of available players the next couple of seasons is far from exciting, and Dallas’s payroll already has them over the tax line.
Another major question mark will be Kidd’s ability to sustain a certain level of success for more than one year. In both Brooklyn and Milwaukee, the team defense took a major step forward before opposing coaches simply figured them out and adjusted accordingly. The influence he and his staff can have on the offseason proceedings, followed by more success after this season are the next tests for Kidd. But so far, the returns are astronomical for the Mavs legend.