Through three NBA seasons, Luka Doncic has already proved that he is one of the league’s true superstars. But his individual success hasn’t translated to wins for the Dallas Mavericks. During Luka’s career, Dallas has settled for back-to-back first-round playoff exits and no more than 43 wins in a season.
New head coach Jason Kidd is out to turn things around for the franchise he won a title with in 2011. But one of the changes he’s suggesting might change a lot of the things fans love about Doncic.
Jason Kidd is telling Luka Doncic to trust his teammates more
As the star, it’s easy to feel like you’re carrying the entire team on your shoulders. Kidd sees that happening with Doncic, speaking to how the young star needs to put more faith in the players surrounding him.
“I don’t know if anybody told Picasso that he has to use all the paints, but I just want to remind him that he can rely on his teammates,” Kidd said during Mavericks Media Day. “His teammates are going to be there to help him. I’m very excited to have this opportunity to work with a young Picasso whose paintings have been incredible up to this point and are only going to get better.”
During Doncic’s three-year career, he has averaged 25.7 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 7.7 assists. He’s taken about 19 shots per game, eight of which are threes, and attempts 7.6 free throws a night. But Luka upped all those totals in the playoffs, where this postseason against the Los Angeles Clippers he averaged 26.6 shot attempts and just under 11 threes.
“There’s a lot of things I can improve on — off the court, on the court,” Doncic told The Dallas Morning News. “Obviously [involving teammates] is one of them, and I think [Kidd is] right.”
Kidd also wants to unleash Kristaps Porzingis
As Picasso, AKA Doncic admitted, he can perhaps do a little less by himself. On the flip side, Kidd wants Kristaps Porzingis to do more.
When Porzingis was acquired by Dallas from the New York Knicks in 2019, he was expected to form a fearsome tandem with Doncic. But the Unicorn has missed 45 regular-season games over the last two seasons, proving that his injury concerns from New York are still prevalent. When he was on the court, he was used ineffectively. According to Tim MacMahon of ESPN, head coach Rick Carlisle didn’t want Porzingis operating away from the post, even though the 7-foot-3 Latvian is a career 38% shooter on mid-range attempts with Dallas.
However, his new coach plans on letting him work to his strengths.
“The simple way to put it is, I want KP to be a basketball player,” said Kidd. “There are no limitations on just shooting threes. Being able to roll, to be able to shoot the midrange, to be able to put the ball on the floor — I want him to be who he is, and that’s a basketball player and not just be limited to shooting threes or crashing from the corner. I want him to feel comfortable on the floor in any spot. I think he’s a weapon. He shoots the ball too well not to be able to shoot mid-range shots.”
“[Kidd’s] goal is to put me in situations where I can be the best player, make the most out of my skill set,” Porzingis said. “He tells me that if you want anything, communicate it. Whatever, how you want yourself to be used, let me know and we can talk about it and figure out ways. As a player, that’s huge.”
The trio of Doncic, Porzingis, and Kidd can save the Dallas Mavericks
As much talk as there is surrounding Luka Doncic, he’s still just 22 years old. Presumably, he’s going to get better. Meanwhile, Kristaps Porzingis is only 26 years old, meaning he might not have reached his ceiling yet either.
Those two players, along with Kidd, hold the key to Dallas’ present and future. Luka has proven himself as an elite NBA player, but he can sometimes do too much and actually hurt his team. Porzingis has proven he can be an unguardable shooter, but health and usage concerns slowed his rising potential. And Kidd has proven his basketball genius after a 19-year Hall of Fame career, but his first two coaching stints with the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks have fallen flat.
All three men have something to improve on heading into the season. If they can all find a way to address those areas of concern, the Mavericks can immediately become contenders in an increasingly difficult Western Conference.
All statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference.