WASHINGTON – The Dallas Mavericks are very concerned about Luka Doncic’s usage rate.
It’s high. And the Mavs believe if they don’t get it under control, their superstar point guard may have some issues by Christmas.
“There are possessions (the Mavs) have to help Luka on defense, because he’s doing so much on the offensive end,” coach Jason Kidd said before Thursday’s game against the ‘Washington Wizards. “We’ve got to be able to find that balance for him to participate defensively so that helps us win games. But the usage rate is so high, so sometimes there’s going to be some situations where he doesn’t participate. It happens. Been there done that.
“But the one thing is we’re only 10 games into this, so we’ll figure that out. But the big thing is understanding who’s going to help, who’s going to be consistent being that second, third, fourth player. We have a group. We don’t just have Robin next to him. We have a group of guys that have to participate. Right now we’ll have one or two participate, and then those two disappear and then another two show up. We have to become consistent in that area.”
And if the Mavs don’t have a clear No. 2 player step up and assist Doncic so he can get his usage rate lowered, Kidd said: “I would say before Christmas if we keep this going up, I don’t think, then he will not be human if he gets past Christmas. One or the other is going to show if he’s human or not.
“We believe he’s human, but when everyone is going to come at you every night on the defensive end and then we’re asking you to do everything offensive, it’s going to show within 25 games. And I would say that’s somewhere around Christmas.”
But what if Doncic defies the odds and continues to excel at this same usage rate after Christmas? It’s not totally out of the question.
“Everyone’s going to say he’s 23 years old, but he’s human,” Kidd said. “The other side of this is he’s falling a lot right now and that’s one of the areas that we’ll talk about is I’m going to try to keep him off the floor. Wood always wins, because he is human. Bruises will start to appear.
“You look at the great ones. (Allen Iverson), a lot of guys hit the floor a lot. (Hitting the floor) doesn’t catch you in that year or the second year, but Father Time is faster just because of the hits. And it’s not the physical hits, the human-to-human hits. It’s the floor. The floor is going to win. It’s always won, it’s always been hard, and it’s not going to change. So we have to figure out how to keep him on his feet.”
Kidd has had conversations with Doncic about his high usage rate.
“These next couple of games we’re going to try to look at something different, and he has to trust us,” Kidd said. “Because he can easily say, ‘I don’t want to do that, I’m in a rhythm, I’m scoring 30-something a night. We’re winning some games.’
“I just think being able to show him what I see, and then there’s a respect and trust factor that we have for one another, and that helps. But the big thing is he’s from a different planet. He makes the game look so easy. It’s at a different speed. He’s not afraid of the moment, he loves the competition, and no matter who’s out there on the floor with him he believes he can find a way to win.”
DONCIC AND OTHER MAVS CHATTED WITH PORZINGIS: After Washington defeated the Mavs, 113-105, Doncic and some of his teammates chatted with Wizards forward/center Kristaps Porzingis, who sat out Thursday’s game with a groin injury.
On Feb. 10, the Mavs acquired Spencer Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans in a trade with the Wizards for Porzingis and a 2022 second-round draft pick. Porzingis had been with the Mavs since they acquired him in a trade with the New York Knicks on Jan. 31, 2019.
“He has a nice beard,” Doncic said. “After the trade you can go against that team that traded you, you can say a lot of things.
“But he was always nice, always nice to Dallas, always nice to me, so I respect him.”
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