Luka Dončić and Kyrie Irving are two of the best players in the NBA by any metric, yet the Dallas Mavericks are 37-40 and in danger of not making the playoffs. They are 16th in aNET rating and 23rd in aDRTG, not a recipe for success. Why is head coach Jason Kidd not under fire?
ESPN’s Jay Williams said on “First Take” on Wednesday that he has real concerns about Kidd holding Dončić and Irving accountable.
“There is a major concern that I have about Jason Kidd as a coach holding [Kyrie and Luka] accountable. In the last eight minutes of the game, Kyrie Irving and Luka Dončić … took a combined five shots. … Last night was unacceptable.”
The Mavs Are Fading Fast
The Mavericks have lost seven of their past 10 and are fading. They lack the ability to execute in late-game situations and they can’t get stops.
The team traded away their best defender in Dorian Finney-Smith as a part of the Irving deal. Of course they would get worse on defense. Kidd has done nothing schematically to fix any of it.
After blowing a 27-point lead to the Los Angeles Lakers last month, Kidd offered up a revealing truth.
“I’m not the savior here. I’m watching. I’m not playing, I’m watching just like you guys,” Kidd said. “Us as a team we have to mature. We have to grow up if we want to win a championship.”
Kidd Abdicating Responsibility
Pretty uninspiring and damning words from the head coach of a team with title aspirations. He’s “watching”? Why isn’t he coaching? Why isn’t he motivating, leading, inspiring?
There is something to be said about letting players figure things out on the fly. But not for a team looking to win a championship. By implying that he is a spectator he is abdicating all responsibilities for the product on the floor.
That’s not leadership or coaching. That’s looking to avoid blame.
In this league where the talent is so abundant and spread out, coaching is critical. The team with the coach and staff that does all the leading, inspiring, establishing trust and drawing up tactics will get the most out of their talent.
“(Dončić and Irving have to be) able to play the other side of the ball,” Kidd said prior to Wednesday’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers. “The more (offensive burden) we put on those guys, we’re asking them to also play defense too. So there’s a fine line of running a lot of pick-and-rolls with those two and also asking them to participate on the defensive end.”
This is what Williams was alluding to. Why can’t Kidd get Dončić and Irving to play on that end of the court?
The best offensive players in the league who are bought in on defense have developed trust of their team’s system. The head coach and organization have done enough to establish trust, buy in and commitment.
For one reason or another the Mavericks have not been able to do that with Dončić in his five seasons in the league. That failure falls on owner Mark Cuban and Kidd.