Dallas Mavericks: How good does Jason Kidd have to be?

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /

I’ll admit it, I was mad when I heard Jason Kidd would be the coach replacing Rick Carlisle this season. It wasn’t that I loved Carlisle, or that I thought he got the most out of the Dallas Mavericks 2020-2021 roster. It was that Carlisle was a top-5 NBA coaching mind and Kidd was…well…not.

Add in some of Kidd’s baggage, and the idea his name, player resume, and overall “coolness” is the only reason he was ever a coach in the first place, and I had all-out concern heading into this all-important 2021-2022 Mavs season.

How good does Jason Kidd have to be for the Dallas Mavericks to have a successful season?

What makes this season so darn “all-important” you may ask? It’s Year Two of the Luka Doncic – Kristaps Porzingis pairing, that’s why.

The primary failure of Carlisle was his inability to maximize Kristaps Porzingis. In fact, if anything, Carlisle minimized Porzingis in a way I don’t think many coaches could have. KP needed to be the second star on this ascending team and instead he faded into the background.

This season it’s make-or-break for KP in Dallas. If he can’t step up into that true No. 2 role and become the force Mark Cuban expects, he’s likely on the trade block at season’s end. And if he’s on the move, the Dallas Mavericks can expect pennies on the dollar in return. Subsequently stunting the growth of this team and wasting one, maybe two more seasons of Luka.

The stakes are high, to say the least.

So I ask again, can a lesser-than coach be more successful than Rick Carlisle was? And if so, how?

Jason Kidd cannot scheme and adjust like Carlisle. That’s not really up for debate. Mid-game, there are very few coaches who can call a game like ol’ Carlisle. So whatever Kidd offers, has to be outside of the actual game itself.

Tall order?

Maybe not.

A simple culture change has the ability to impact this team in multiple ways. Not only could it offer a renewed focus on defense, but it could bring out the best in individual players who felt stifled under the last regime.

Across professional sports we’re seeing a shift from the authoritarian disciplinarian-types who motivate with fear, to the relatable players-coaches who motivate with praise. As the generation of players change, so must the leadership. It’s true in sports and in business.

Perhaps this is all the Dallas Mavericks need. How much will that improve things is unknown, but it’s fair to say Dallas didn’t come close to scratching the surface of their potential last year. They basically caved in the postseason and ended an otherwise solid campaign on a fairly sour note. And perhaps having a coach who actually uses the second best player down the stretch has already improved this roster enough.

At the end of the day, if KP plays up to his potential, that alone would make this season a success for the Dallas Mavericks. It could easily advance them through the first round and possibly beyond.

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The more I ponder the the coaching change I was once critical of, the more I’m convinced it could be just what the doctor called for. Even if he’s a fraction of the in-game coach Carlisle was, if he can maximize the potential of the Dallas Mavericks players, he’ll be a wild success.

  • Published on 10/21/2021 at 11:01 AM
  • Last updated at 10/20/2021 at 18:25 PM