When the Dallas Mavericks passed up a number of potential head coach options in the offseason to hire Jason Kidd, including beloved former assistant coach Jamahl Mosley, the move was met with a large amount of scrutiny and skepticism.
Instead of focusing on Kidd's growth as both a person and a coach since his first head coaching stints with the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks, many people chose to dwell on his previous failures. Some even went as far as to say Kidd, who spent the previous two years as a Los Angeles Lakers assistant coach, would be fired by Christmas this season, despite him getting raving reviews from all Lakers players and coaches, including LeBron James.
From all accounts, Kidd appears to be loved by every player on his roster in Dallas so far, but Mavs 'glue guy' Dorian Finney-Smith has had as good of a time playing for him than anybody.
"It's been amazing, man," said Finney-Smith in an interview on The Jim Rome Show. "Just knowing that he's one of the best passers to ever play and how he sees the game.
"You know, most of our plays now are off reads. There's not too many sets. ... We might be running the same play all game, but it's just different reads. We just take whatever the defense gives us. I think that could translate to playoff basketball."
Although the offense, which is improving, is still a work in progress, Kidd's impact on the Mavs' defensive identity has been a night-and-day difference from what we've been accustomed to seeing from Dallas in previous years. The Mavs currently own the fourth-best defensive rating in the league this season.
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But what's arguably even more important than any of that stuff mentioned above is how Kidd has been able to instill confidence in his players by always challenging them to grow their games instead of just putting them in a box. That confidence is what has helped the Mavs win nine of their last 10 games, despite guys like superstar Luka Doncic and sixth-man Tim Hardaway Jr. not being as efficient as they usually are.
"It feels good," said Finney-Smith of how he's been able morph himself into a threat on offensive to go along with his incredible defense over the last few years. "(But) it also feels good when coach Kidd is telling me when I get the ball off the glass, don't look for Luka (Doncic) or (Jalen Brunson), but to push it up the court myself and be aggressive.
"That feels good to know the coaching staff sees all the work I put in, and they trust me with making more plays and doing more on the offensive end."
There have been some bumps in the road this season, mainly due to injuries and COVID, but for the most part, Kidd and his coaching staff have done an excellent job of coaching the 25-19 fifth-place Mavericks, and it's making a lot of people on 'irrational hot take Twitter' look very silly now.
You can listen to the full interview with Finney-Smith here: