clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

No one will benefit more from the roster upgrade than Jason Kidd

Kidd has a lot to prove this year

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Philadelphia 76ers Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Mavericks are off to a hot start this off-season, making every move at the margins count. They have improved considerably a little over a week into free agency. Josh Green and Grant Williams make an intriguing wing duo, while Dereck Lively II and Olivier-Maxence Prosper provide a lot of intrigue as young upside. Seth Curry’s return gives Dallas another sniper for Luka Doncic to find on the perimeter. Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving will benefit from an upgraded supporting cast as having improved athleticism and skill around them will make the Mavericks that much harder to defend. However, it is not any one player that will benefit the most from the improved roster, but rather head coach Jason Kidd.

Kidd has been criticized by a lot of people in Dallas (including myself) and rightfully so. After a stellar first year with the Mavericks, the team took a huge step back in year two. He was frugal with timeouts, constantly said the wrong thing to the media, and at times seemed like he had no game plan at all. His career win percentage is currently around 50 percent (273 wins, 264 losses), which underlines the fact that he probably is no more than a mediocre coach. Despite all of this, he deserves one more chance. Not because he earned it, but because Dallas has taken a complete 180 and is progressing towards a team that plays right into Kidd’s coaching style.

Take Joe Mazulla, head coach of the Boston Celtics, for example. He seldom calls timeouts, says weird things, and does not run a ton of offense. He has a very similar coaching style to Kidd, but the Celtics were one game away from the NBA Finals this past season, not one game away from the play-in tournament. This is because Boston had a far more well-rounded and talented roster and are more equipped to play through mistakes. Kidd is in a position to use the new-look Mavericks to leverage himself into a similar extension to what Mazzulla got following the Celtics' playoff run this past season.

The upgrade for Dallas is two-fold. On one hand, Dallas objectively got better. They turned Reggie Bullock, Theo Pinson, Frank Ntilikina, and Davis Bertans into Grant Williams, Seth Curry, Dante Exum, Richaun Holmes, Dereck Lively, and Olivier-Maxence Prosper. Coupled with expected year-over-year improvement from Jaden Hardy and Josh Green, Dallas has upgraded talent significantly. Kidd’s style requires shotmaking and talent to overcome the lack of interference from the sideline, specifically during opponents' runs. Curry and Williams are perfect contributors here as they both boast high career three-point percentages (43.5 and 39.5 percent) and low career turnover rates (1.1 and 0.9 per game). Hardy and Green should see increases in their minutes as well, which gives Dallas two more dynamic athletes to put the pressure on when they are under pressure themselves.

The other side of the roster turnover is the overhaul of youth. They added a 19, 21, and 24-year-old to a core that already featured a 21, 22, and 24-year-old. Kidd may get a lot of flack for his coaching mishaps, but without a doubt, he knows how to develop talent. Josh Green was buried as a rookie under Rick Carlisle and only averaged 2.6 points per game in 39 appearances. In year one under Kidd, he took a step and averaged nearly five points in 67 games. This past season Kidd’s influence started to pay off when Green averaged a career-high 9.1 points on 53.7 percent shooting in 60 games and 21 starts. Jaden Hardy averaged just 3.7 points in seven minutes a game over 11 games before January 1st, 2023. After the turn of the year, Kidd’s decision to let him grow in the G-League paid off. Hardy put up over ten points in 17 minutes a night on 43.3 percent from three post-January 1st.

With those two guys having another year under Kidd, and now adding three other players under the age of 25 to benefit from the Mavericks’ skill development, the latter portion of the year could be very strong for Dallas. If they have a faster start than they did last year and the rookies can get up to speed by the All-Star break, Dallas will have a very good chance to be the hottest team in the West going into the playoffs. Lively and Prosper are impact player archetypes and Kidd is going to be a huge help for them in their rookie years.

The Mavericks are going to have a full training camp of Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving. They have dynamic young players that will have the chance to learn from some of the best players to ever play the game, including Kidd. They fortified a veteran presence by adding Holmes and Curry and re-signing Powell. Kidd has no excuses this year, the team is far more equipped to play into his style. He has the most to prove, and the Mavericks are giving him as much as they can to help him show that he is the right coach to build this young team into a contender.