I’m sure some of you who watched the Mavs lose to New Orleans in Jason Kidd’s (re)debut are already thinking the trade is a bust. Not so fast, people. I have some thoughts, kindly hidden after the jump for those that disdain hardcore hoops talk.
“Wasn’t Jason Kidd brought in to help the Mavs close out games?” Yes, he was. And he will. Last night was, at best, a scrimmage for Your Dallas Mavericks. Did they hope to win? Of course. But the more important aspect of last night’s game was getting Mr. Mosdefily acquainted with his new teammates. Dampier needed to feel what it was like to try and catch (with his face) one of Kidd’s sneaky passes in game conditions.
It would have been ideal for the game to have been against, say, Minnesota or Memphis or maybe even Miami. Instead, the Mavs faced a young, tight-knit team that features one of the premier ballhawkers in the league in a city still flush with All-Star Weekend host excitement, while trying to integrate a new point guard into the lineup and missing Josh Howard (he played, but he was hardly the same, still recuperating from a back contusion) and Jerry Stackhouse (he re-aggravated his hamstring trying to remove his foot from his mouth). That, my friends, is a no win situation.
There was plenty of bad in last night’s game, but most of it is easily explained away.
- Josh settled for jumpers when he should have been getting alley oops from Kidd all night. (He’ll do less of that once he can run and jump.)
- There were tons of just silly turnovers. (Most of those were of the “oh, I thought you’d be there, but now you’re not there, my bad” variety. Doubt you’ll see that in a week.)
- Chris Paul, the kind of PG Devin Harris matches up with pretty well, torched the older, slower Kidd. (The stats say yes, but my eyes say no. Many of those shots came when the Mavs switched the pick-and-roll, leaving Paul covered by … Erick Dampier. That’s Avery’s fault.)
- Avery was still calling the same-old, same-old plays. (He’ll do much less of that when Kidd is fully enmeshed with the team.)
- Devean George is terrible. (Sorry … can’t explain that, or Avery’s insistence on giving him big minutes.)
But along with that were tons of plays that got me (and I hope others) absolutely fired up for the remainder of Kidd’s tenure in Dallas.
- Dirk looked more comfortable than he has in ages, and was getting the ball where he likes to get it and where he can do something with it. He was much more aggressive, and I don’t think that’s a coincidence.
- Kidd’s passing was contagious. There were a couple of fast breaks that were just beautiful to watch.
- If Damp can catch the ball (big if, I know), Kidd might actually make him useful in the offense. That was one of the first nights where someone on the team actually made a decent entry pass, and at least once it led to a nifty jump hook from Mav Erick. (See what I did there?)
It was a loss, I know. Jason Kidd had more turnovers than assists, yes. But please, don’t panic. It’ll get a little worse before it gets better. But when it gets better, I believe you’re going to enjoy this Mavericks team immensely.