Ever since the Dallas Mavericks lost in their first-round match-up with the Los Angeles Clippers, a series they seemed to have control over, much of the talk surrounding the team centered around the supporting cast that the Mavericks had put around Luka Dončić. The focal point of these conversations was Kristaps Porzingis, the unicorn of a player meant to provide consistent scoring and command the attention of opposing defenses while Luka is on the bench.
Assessments of KP were not very good, and Porzinigs was vocal about his role on the Mavericks, expressing the lack of focus the organization was giving him, going as far as to say the team treated him like an afterthought. Well, KP sure played like one, and the apparent lack of accountability sent calls for change in the roster by dealing Porzingis in return for some more reliable players. Then, the Mavericks organization started to shake things up by parting ways with long-time general manager Donnie Nelson and championship coach Rick Carlisle.
The dust has now settled as GM Nico Harrison and Head Coach Jason Kidd have been introduced to the media, signifying their official onboarding onto their respective jobs. During the press conference, Jason Kidd knew that questions surrounding Luka’s relationship with KP were inevitable. To his credit, instead of providing us with a non-descript answer, Kidd said what any good coach would.
“KP is having a positive offseason, because he is healthy. He is real really excited about this opportunity and I think he is a perfect fit for Luka.”Jason Kidd, Dallas Mavericks Press Conference
Kidd said what members of the basketball world expected, of course, he cannot look to be publicly announcing his intent to trade players on his first week on the job; that would just put his bosses in a tough place. Luka and KP seemed to be the perfect match for each other on paper, which is why everyone was so excited about the trade in the first place. The question is, why hasn’t this partnership seemed like the perfect fit we all believe this pair to be?
Luka and KP had the makings of being the European version of LeBron in AD in Los Angeles. A basketball savant paired with an athletic big man that could score from anywhere in the two-man game of the future, and Dallas was one of two teams in the league with such a pairing. However, the difference between the two duos is that in Dallas, neither of them has experience. Luka has the ability to get a good shot by his standards every time down the floor, but the only other players that seem to thrive with him are catch and shoot guys and lob threats.
KP has the size, skill, and athleticism to be dominant from anywhere on the floor, but when his shot is not falling, he lacks the ability to get a good position in the post to get easy baskets. Because of the lack of experience, neither player can sacrifice part of their strengths to help hide some of the weaknesses of the other. KP needs more opportunities to create his own shots to be effective, and Luka is reluctant to give him this because they are, quite frankly, not efficient plays.
Kidd now has the daunting but exciting task of figuring out how to mesh the individual talents of his two main players, and figuring out a dynamic like this is just the kind of job Kidd is cut out for. Kidd was all about making players better during his time as a player, and he understands that sometimes bigs need their touches in places where they like to catch the ball. The big man has to do much of the dirty work on both ends, so it is crucial to make him feel integrated into the game’s overall flow.
Kidd has taken the first step towards figuring this out, which is getting the two stars to believe that they are, in fact, a perfect fit. This season, Kidd’s coaching prowess will be put to the test as he tries to get the two to make beautiful music together before Dallas decides they want to move on from Porzingis.
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