Whenever someone asks to compare a young Jason Kidd to a young Luka Doncic, Kidd is quick to smile and set the record straight.
“At 22, he’s way better than I was at that age,” Kidd told Mavs.com. “Do I wish I was Luka? Yes.
“I wish I was that tall and that strong.”
Actually, Kidd did make the first of his 10 All-Star appearances in his second season with the Dallas Mavericks – when he was 22 years old. At the same age, Doncic already had two All-Star appearances and had already established himself as one of the top three players in the NBA.
“I love his competitive spirit,” said Kidd, who is in his first year as the head coach of the Mavs. “I love that he wants to win at all cost. When you have that type of spirit with his skill set, it’s a beautiful thing.
“But again, it’s to help him with some of the smaller things with the game within the game, and hopefully that leads to us winning a championship.”
Because of Doncic’s incredible skill set and the advancement of some of the other players on the team, Kidd believes the Mavs are “close” to winning another championship. The quest for the Mavs to capture their second title in team history starts Thursday at 6:30 p.m. when they open the regular season at Atlanta.
Kidd saw the Phoenix Suns rise up and advance to last year’s NBA Finals, where they lost to the Milwaukee Bucks in six games. And he saw the Mavs open up their first-round playoff series against the Los Angeles Clippers by winning the first two games on the road, losing the next two at home, winning Game 5 in LA, and then dropping the final two games and the series.
“When you go back and look at their last series against the Clippers, they gave the Clippers everything they could and maybe could have won that,” Kidd said. “But we do have a very talented player in Luka.
“I think with (Kristaps Porzingis), (Dorian) Finney-Smith, Jalen Brunson and being able to keep developing a Josh Green – a young player – I think that’s what we’re focusing on is our young players playing more, because we need everybody. It’s a team, so we want to develop players not just to be here to help Luka, but to help everyone.”
More importantly, Kidd believes the Mavs will receive a herculean effort this season from Porzingis, who seems to be very renewed and extremely enthusiastic. This is the first time Porzingis will be going into a season fully healthy since 2017-18, when he made the All-Star team as a member of the New York Knicks.
“I think when you look at KP, he’s had some injuries,” Kidd said. “But I think more or less, he’s having fun.
“I don’t know if he’s been having fun as we’ve continued to talk, and talk basketball and life. He’s a very talented player, and our job is to get him back to where we all believe he should be.”
Kidd had some fun when someone told him that since this is his third time with the Mavs, maybe some good things will finally happen. But he quickly reminded his listener that the first time he was with the Mavs, he made the All-Star team in 1996, and during his second tenure in Dallas, the Mavs won the 2011 NBA title.
“Someone said, ‘Man, the third time’s the charm,’ “ Kidd said. “I go, ‘Well, the first time wasn’t bad from year-to-year.’ And then they go, ‘Oh, maybe the second time.’ And I‘d go, ‘No, the second time wasn’t too bad either. We won a championship.’
“And so, the third time, the bar is going to be set high. To build a championship-caliber organization and team, that’s what we want. We want to win championships, so I’m up for the challenge.”