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Mavericks: Jason Kidd's offense looks like a step backward in opener

Darreck Kirby
Dallas Mavericks, Jason Kidd
Dallas Mavericks, Jason Kidd / Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks left an awful lot to be desired in Jason Kidd's head coaching debut for the team. While one game in an 82-game season might not be any indicator of how good a team is or might become, it does allow for a glimpse of things as they are currently. Perhaps 'currently' is just that particular night or it's the first few weeks of the year.

A few disclaimers up front. First, the Atlanta Hawks are a good team. They have a superstar talent in Trae Young and have aggressively built around him over the past two seasons. As such, their run to the Eastern Conference Finals last season should not be viewed as a fluke. Second, any team undergoing a coaching change while retaining largely the same roster is going to experience some growing pains. The questions are how bad said pains will be, and how long they will last?

In a 113-87 thrashing at the hands of the Hawks, the Dallas offense looked completely out of sorts, forcing its players into situations they are not adept in while poorly spacing the floor and settling for bad shots.

Dallas Mavericks offense looks to have taken a sizeable step backward under Jason Kidd

Dallas attempted 17 mid-range shots on the night and finished shooting just 33.3 percent from the field, including 30.2 percent from three. Players cut into the lane during pick and rolls with Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzings or Dwight Powell on numerous occasions. At other times, the weak-side corner was left barren while two Mavs crowded one another on the opposite end of the arc.

Kristaps Porzingis saw several opportunities in the low post and had minimal success in his 11-point, five-rebound showing. Even Dorian Finney-Smith got some work in the post, despite that in no way being a part of his game over his first six seasons.

Dallas routinely settled for long twos or ill-advised threes that never saw the ball first penetrate the lane, and the results were devastating.

The Mavericks were 19 of 50 (38.0 percent) inside the three-point line and 5 of 17 in the mid-range (29.4 percent). They attempted just two more shots at the rim than they did from the mid-range overall. It was hardly a recipe for success to put it mildly.

Luka Doncic began the game shooting two of ten from the field with four assists and five turnovers. This was due largely to De'Andre Hunter hounding him throughout the game, limiting the Mavs star to one of nine shooting when guarded by him.

"He played great defense," Doncic told reporters after the game.

Dallas shooters overall were just one of 13 when Hunter was their primary defender. To have Clint Capela lurking in the paint and John Collins waiting in the wings is almost unfair, yet it was a reality Dallas had to deal with and failed spectacularly in.

While the score did get away from Dallas in the second half, particularly in the third quarter when the Hawks shot a blistering 64 percent compared to just 28 percent for the Mavs, the Mavs were holding things together reasonably. In that quarter, however, Trae Young woke up and scored 12 points while recording nine assists, allowing a once-close game to turn into a groaner.

While people may have taken exception with Rick Carlisle's offense the past two seasons, it's worth the reminder that this team was the most efficient offense in NBA history two years ago and eighth in offensive rating last season. To scrap that system in favor of more mid-range shots despite only Doncic, Porzingis, and Tim Hardaway Jr. displaying a fair bit of proficiency in that area is a confusing choice.

Dorian Finney-Smith went out of his way to turn down a wide-open corner three, a place from which he shot roughly 40 percent last season, in favor of a pull-up long-distance two-point attempt he clanked off the side of the rim. The shot never had a chance.

If that's the kind of looks Kidd's offense wants to generate, Dallas needs to start figuring out some personnel changes because the roster they've built and largely maintained these past three years is not equipped for such plans of attack.

Again, although we're focusing on just one game, the early indications of the scheme and execution leave much to be desired. By virtue of probability, the team probably won't play that poorly too many more times this season, but this team is not built to be a defensive stalwart above all. Even if they were built in such a way, you can't be successful in today's NBA if your offense drops off a cliff from a perennial top-10 rating into the lower half or third of the league.

For Dallas's sake, and Kidd's, let's hope Saturday night in Toronto goes better.

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