This will be Jason Kidd’s 29th NBA opening day as a player, assistant or head coach.

It is the fifth for Luka Dončić.

While one has decades of experience, the other has only a few seasons battle scars.

But they are a team, young and old, charged with leading this era of the Mavericks.

Year two of the alliance between Kidd and Dončić begins Wednesday at Phoenix – site of their biggest moment from last year’s remarkable playoff run, their Game 7 blowout win over the heavily favored Suns.

And now, the 2022-23 season is here.

Tipoff (9 p.m., BSSW/ESPN) will begin Luka’s fifth NBA season and his ninth as a professional player.

He is 23 years old.

Kidd has been the model coach for Dončić so far. Kidd knows what it’s like to be a point guard in charge of doing pretty much everything on the court – scoring, distributing, making teammates happy, rebounding and having his fingers on the pulse of the team.

“As long as he’s Luka, he’s always going to be in the conversation of MVP, early and often,” Kidd said after Tuesday’s practice. “I think he’s ready to have that season to win that.

“But we have our hands full. I’m comfortable with the team. But in any professional sport, it’s never a finished product.”

The same can be said of Luka.

As great as he’s been in his first four seasons, the fifth one could be even better.

“He will understand the league better,” Kidd said. “With his talent, he’s always going to make his teammates better. He’s (one of) if not the best player in the world. It could be where things are a little clearer where he can see things a lot better and understand what teams are trying to do.”

Outsiders sometimes can offer a different viewpoint, although it’s really more of a confirmation of what Kidd is saying.

When the Mavericks visited Utah last week, Jazz coach Will Hardy put Luka’s impact this way:

“Luka is maybe the best player in the NBA at dictating the tempo of the game and not getting sped up, but playing on two feet. He shows all of us some really special ways to play the game on the offensive end.”

And, perhaps most importantly, he is building up the collateral of defeat.

When competitors suffer disappointment, they learn from it.

“It’s all right to fail,” Kidd said. “As a player, I failed many times. And as a coach, I have failed. But to go back and look at those mistakes and learn from those mistakes (is crucial).”

Make no mistake. Luka is learning. He knows he has to improve his free-throw shooting, especially since he clearly is going to be wearing a path on the court that leads to the line.

And he must continue to work on his defense, which has improved considerably since he was a raw teenager upon his arrival.

But mostly, Luka’s next big step is winning big.

Even bigger than he already has at a tender age.

Which brings us to the teammates that must feed off of (and be better because of) Luka’s magic.

If you are weighing the pluses and minuses of this team, you can make the case that they are in a better spot than they were a year ago.

They have added two proven, veteran big men in Christian Wood and JaVale McGee.

They have lost a proven backcourt scorer and distributor in Jalen Brunson.

Luka is a year older and wiser – still on the upward side of his career arc.

But have the Mavericks improved enough to keep pace in the competitive Western Conference, where half-a-dozen teams can legitimately say they have a shot at being the top dog?

“We have new pieces,” Kidd said. “We have a core that’s back. But there are going to be different lineups that are going to be new. For us, the season is to figure out what we have, put ourselves in position to make the playoffs and then go from there.

It’s Kidd’s second season as the coach of the Mavericks. The first one could not have been much more successful. His team overachieved. And by extension, so did Kidd and the front office that put together last season’s team.

Now, they start over and they know exactly what’s at stake.

“It’s one game – and if we end up losing, it’s the end of the world,” Kidd joked. “But our group, we didn’t get caught up in what people were saying (last season), winning or losing. It’s a marathon. We know we’re not going 82-0 and 16-0 like our owner would like.

“Our job is to play hard, play as a team and find a way to win.”

Let the journey begin.

Twitter: @ESefko

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