Editor’s note: Jason Kidd has further clarified that Spencer Dinwiddie is starting. This article makes an incorrect assumption about changes to the starting lineup based on Kidd’s comments on the second unit and how the reporter asking the question chose to interpret his answer in follow-up tweets.
According to coach Jason Kidd, there are some changes to the assumed Dallas Mavericks starting lineup. Jason Kidd seems to have changed his mind about starting Spencer Dinwiddie alongside Luka Doncic. With the season opener in Phoenix just ten days away, this news shifts expectations on how the Mavericks plan to approach the early stages of the 2022-2023 season.
Jason Kidd tells me that Spencer Dinwiddie will be going back to his role last season, leading the second unit.— Landon Thomas (@sixfivelando) October 8, 2022
“Right now we are looking at Spencer running that (second) group, I thought he did a good job with that group yesterday… being able to set the table for those guys.”
On July 8th, Kidd appeared on ESPN’s NBA Today and stated, “...with Spencer starting, our starting five is going to be big...” So, what changed, and what does this mean for the Mavs?
After deciding to pass on the chance to sign Goran Dragic, the Mavericks front office may have believed other options would be emerging in the trade market or free agency that have not materialized. The company line of utilizing Frank Ntilikina or Josh Green as the much-asked-about third ball handler was a way to move press conferences along - but it does not appear to be an on-court reality Kidd is ready to embrace to start the season.
Having Kidd state that he liked how Spencer Dinwiddie ran the second unit is a bit of a smokescreen. There was no doubt that Dinwiddie would perform well in or out of the starting lineup. Instead, the question Kidd created back in July pertained to the bench point guard role. Who would initiate the offense with both starters off the floor?
The Mavs have decided that it is easier to stagger the minutes of Doncic and Dinwiddie if they are not starting alongside each other. It also communicates a realism about Ntilikina and Green morphing into point guards ready to lead the second unit.
If Kidd comes out and confirms this in his next press availability, the next question, he fields will be - who starts next to Luka now? Kidd named Dinwiddie, Tim Hardaway Jr., Christian Wood, and Maxi Kleber as part of the second unit.
Since Kidd mentions Tim Hardaway Jr. as part of the second unit, we are left to proceed under the notion that Jaden Hardy’s surprise addition to the starting lineup against the Orlando Magic on Friday was more than a preseason oddity.
If Hardy starts against Phoenix, the rookie will have an incredible opportunity and more of a spotlight than most folks anticipated at the start of training camp. After struggling in all but the first summer league game, the prevailing wisdom seemed to be that Hardy would need time with the Legends before being ready to contribute at the NBA level.
His training camp and preseason efforts - highlighted by his fourth-quarter outburst against the Thunder - have shifted the calculus. Hardy will have no shortage of open looks thanks to the court gravity of number 77.
It could also mean that Josh Green or Frank Ntilikina gets a chance to start. The possibility of Green is exciting in its own right, with the French Prince likely starting for defensive purposes.
This change would have Spencer leading a stout and deep second unit. A lineup of Dinwiddie, Hardaway Jr, Josh Green, Maxi Kleber, & Christian Wood is more potent than several other teams starting five.
Functionally more critical is the closing lineup, which includes Dinwiddie and Doncic working together to seal wins. As a result, we should expect several lineup changes early in the season as Kidd and his staff work out the best means of starting and closing games in a winning fashion.