The Dallas Mavericks’ hiring of Jason Kidd was met with some skepticism for multiple reasons. Kidd comes with a lot of off the court baggage, and his previous two stops as head coach didn’t produce much success.
As the Mavericks’ free agency activity lags here in early August, it’s a good time to look back at how Kidd’s teams with the Milwaukee Bucks and Brooklyn Nets faired under him. By parsing the statistics, there’s a chance to guess what style Kidd might have in mind for the Mavericks.
It’s important to say early on that Kidd never had a player like Luka Doncic in his previous two jobs. Giannis Antetokounmpo wasn’t GIANNIS yet, and Deron Williams at his peak wasn’t in Doncic’s league. Having a generational star on your roster can warp time and space on the court, so Kidd may come at this squad from a completely different angle than any other he’s coached.
But we only have history to predict the future, so that’s what we’re going to do. Here are four interesting statistics from Kidd’s coaching past.
Kidd’s teams have never been big on shooting 3-pointers. Over his five years as head coach, his squads have averaged a ranking of 23rd in attempts from behind the arc. The highest the Bucks ever ranked was 24th in the league back in 2016-17. There’s a chance this could be roster dependent, however, as the Nets ranked 10th in 3-pointers in Kidd’s one year there.
It’s worrisome, though, to see Kidd’s teams buck the trend the league was headed. It might speak to a lack of awareness in keeping up with the latest data on what creates successful teams. Or as mentioned above, perhaps Kidd didn’t trust the shooters on his team and tried to get buckets in other methods. Either way, it would be a sharp departure from how the Mavericks operated under Rick Carlisle, when they were routinely top five in the league on 3-point attempts.
If you’re expecting a quicker pace than the methodical way the Mavericks played under Carlisle, well, you’re going to be disappointed. Kidd isn’t exactly enamored with teams playing at a fast pace.
“I don’t understand why we’re so excited or intrigued with pace,” Kidd told Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal. “We’re making a big deal about a stat that does not win championships.”
Kidd’s actions matched his words. His teams have ranked an average of 22nd in the league in pace of play. He’s just not interested getting up quick shots while the defense isn’t set, preferring a more methodical approach in the half court. In this way, he won’t be much different than Carlisle. But that doesn’t mean Kidd isn’t interested in playing fast.
Fast Break Points
Kidd coached teams usually ranked in the top ten in fastbreak points. His teams have finished 13th on average in fast break points. If you remove his year with an older Nets team, that average drops to ninth. Kidd isn’t interested in quick shots, but he desperately wants his teams to get up the floor.
“I think it’s always good when you can get the ball up before 21 on the (shot) clock,” Kidd said in the same article from Valezquez. “It gives us more opportunities to move the ball. Also not to let the defense set so you can get an easy paint touch or you can get a wide open three. That’s something that we’ve always talked about.”
It makes sense that if Kidd wants to execute slowly and correctly in the half court, he’d want to get the ball up the floor as fast as possible. It gives his players more time on the shot clock to operate, and inevitably leads to easy buckets in transition. In Kidd’s last year with the Bucks, 17.8% of their points were scored in transition, good for third in the league.
I’ve long advocated for the Mavericks to push the ball up the floor, and am hoping it’s something Kidd incorporates early on.
If you didn’t like how the Mavericks have rebounded in last couple years, you might want to stop reading right now. Over his five year run as a head coach, Kidd’s teams have ranked 28th on average in rebounding. His first Bucks team ranked 24th in rebounding, the highest ranking for any of his teams.
The lack of rebounding wasn’t dictated by the roster, either. Those teams featured players like Antetokounmpo, Greg Monroe, Tyler Zeller, Brook Lopez, and various Plumlees. Kidd had the rebounders, he just wasn’t interested in crashing the glass. This is probably due to his focus on getting up the court for transition buckets, essentially punting on offensive boards.
It’s possible that Kidd changes up his coaching style and has the Mavericks play differently than the Bucks and Nets under his watch. After all, there are some anomalies between the one year in Brooklyn and his stint in Milwaukee. When asked at his introductory press conference what he learned while an assistant coach with the Los Angeles Lakers, Kidd was vague.
“I will take what I’ve learned from Frank and apply it here because I think when you look at Frank’s defense it’s been number one in the last two years, so here in Dallas we’re going to play a little defense, because we know that we can score the ball.
“We’re going to pay attention to the small things which will lead us down the road of winning that trophy.”
There’s not much there except the emphasis on defense, which would be welcome in Dallas. But the statistics above paint a picture of how Kidd sees a winning basketball team. Mavericks fans will have to wait until the season starts to see how Kidd puts his fingerprint on this team, and whether it will be successful.