The Dallas Mavericks open training camp on Tuesday and it is sure to be a learning experience for all involved. Maybe that's why new coach Jason Kidd relied on an educational analogy to explain the excitement.
“It’s going to be like the first day of school,” Kidd told Mavs.com. “You lay out your outfit and be ready to go to school, and you can’t wait to see the students and participate.''
Kidd replaces the future Hall-of-Fame coach Rick Carlisle, who departed Dallas this offseason after 13 years. Kidd's challenge: to be a better "teacher'' than his predecessor, who is now the coach of the Indiana Pacers. How to get there? "Professor'' Kidd will be borrowing from what he's learned over the years from the likes of Carlisle - the coach when Kidd teamed with Dirk Nowitzki and the rest to win the 2011 NBA title in Dallas - and from the likes of Frank Vogel, for whom Kidd most recently served as a Lakers assistant.
Kidd believes defense needs to be the Dallas focus, and indeed, maybe it is the reason the Mavs haven't advanced beyond the first round of the playoffs since that title season.
But there are things to build on in Dallas. Last year, the Mavs finished in fifth place in the Western Conference with a 42-30 record, and then pushed the loaded Los Angeles Clippers to a seventh game in their first-round series.
Said Kidd: “I think this team is up for that challenge to be able to get out of that first round. But first things first is that we have to play the 82 games to see what position we can get into if we’re lucky enough to make the playoffs.”
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Luka Doncic will continue, at age 22, to be the centerpiece of everything the Mavs do. Kidd used Monday's Media Day to "paint a picture,'' so to speak, of Kidd as a "young Picasso'' who needs to get even better at using all of his paints and brushes.
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Doncic averaged 27.7 points, eight rebounds and 8.6 assists last season while being named first-team All-NBA for the second straight year.
“Looking at it last year, the numbers are staggering how much he did have the ball and how much work he had to do to put his team in a position to score,” Kidd said. “We’re not going to take the ball all the way out of his hands because he’s just so good when he has the ball.
“But we do want to do different things – put him on the floor in different positions so as to minimize some of that stress.”
How do the Mavs learn to do that? Class begins Tuesday.