The players on the court will win the Golden State Warriors and Dallas Mavericks showdown in the Western Conference Finals. On the sidelines, though, there will be an exciting matchup between the two head coaches in this series; Steve Kerr of the Warriors and Jason Kidd of the Mavericks. The two crossed paths from time to time during their playing careers, but now they will square off as coaches with a chance to earn a spot in the NBA Finals on the line.
While they did square off on the court, Kerr and Kidd were different players during their careers. Kerr was a three-point specialist who almost always came off the bench, while Kidd was a 10-time All-Star and arguably the most well-rounded point guard in the game. Kidd’s transition from being a superstar on the court to a solid coach on the bench for the Mavericks is something that stood out to Kerr in the buildup to their two teams’ upcoming series:
“Jason’s really unique because he’s one of the few superstar Hall of Famers who has gone on to become a great coach. Most of the former players are sort of guys like me who were role players and grinders. That seems to be the norm, if you look at all the former players who have coached. Not a lot of superstar top-25 all-time players like Jason who have gone on and done this for a long time. He’s unique.” Steve Kerr, NBC Sports
Why haven’t more superstars like Kidd been able to transition to coaching roles?
While Kerr’s argument isn’t entirely valid, he does make a good point. Players of Kidd’s caliber rarely can transition from the court to the bench as he has done. And while Kidd’s coaching legacy is far from finished, he seems to be on the right path to achieving greatness, especially considering what the Mavs could still achieve this season.
Considering how good Kidd was on the court, it seems like a pretty easy fit, but that often isn’t the case. Players of Kidd’s caliber rarely can make such a seamless transition to coaching, but why is that the case? A closer look shows a few pertinent reasons.
The most important thing a coach has to be able to do is get their players to buy into their system. If you can’t relate to your players as a coach, that won’t happen. Sometimes, superstar players cannot connect with their players as a coach, partly because the game comes so easily to them. For many players, it’s a grind to make it through the entire 82-game NBA season; for superstar players, that may not be the case.
It also takes patience to work with these players to build their skills. But, again, some players are more naturally skilled than others, so relating to them is more complicated. For example, a guy like Kerr, who was never a star, understands the trials and tribulations of an entire NBA season. So it makes sense that he can relate to his players because he knows what they are going through. Star players may not understand that grind that most players experience.
Kidd has managed to come in and make that transition look effortless. Maybe it’s because he was one of the hardest-working players in the league despite his natural talent that allowed him to connect with Dallas so easily. After a couple of inconsistent stints with the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks to start his career, Kidd has found his home with the Mavericks, and they are four games away from an NBA Finals appearance.
Kerr and Kidd set for a coaching showdown in the WCF
If Kidd wants to make it to his first NBA Finals as a coach, he will have to go through Kerr and the Warriors dynasty. How good his coaching chops are will be determined during this series.
In their previous series against the Phoenix Suns, Kidd made a great adjustment to take his star guard, Luka Doncic, off the ball on defense and let Randy Bullock and Dorian Finney-Smith clamp down the Suns’ top guard duo of Devin Booker and Chris Paul. It’s a big reason they advanced past them in the second round.
Now he’s going to have to figure out how to slow down an extremely potent Golden State offense led by Steph Curry and company. The Dubs have a unique blend of scoring and defense on their roster that makes it difficult to get anything going on either side of the ball. On offense, Doncic will have to shoulder a big load to help counter the Warriors’ lethal shooting.
How Kidd decides to defend Golden State is a big storyline heading into the series. Doncic will have to get involved at some point on defense, as the Warriors have the depth to be able to force switches and get Doncic involved more than the Suns were able to. You can’t hide Doncic on defense anywhere this time around.
Kidd won many of his battles with Kerr on the court, but until further notice, Kerr has the advantage off the court heading into this series. Whether Kidd can outcoach the legendary Golden State skipper could play a massive part in deciding who wins this series. Kerr has the experience, but Kidd has proven to be a unique coach in Kerr’s own words, and it may take some unique gameplans for Dallas to beat the Warriors.