With Jason Kidd Playing All Out, Dallas Mavericks Are Legit Contenders

Alex McVeighSenior Analyst IMarch 1, 2010

DALLAS - FEBRUARY 20:  Guard Jason Kidd #2 of the Dallas Mavericks takes a shot against Quentin Richardson #5 of the Miami Heat on February 20, 2010 at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

It’s official: the Mavericks won the Jason Kidd trade. The Nets, though they got promising young point guard Devin  Harris, came out on the losing end.

Now, if you know me, you know I’ve been saying this pretty much since it went down. I was always in favor of the trade, because I didn’t think the Mavericks as constructed going into February 2008 could win a championship.

But the problem was that the trade didn’t necessarily push the Mavericks over the top. Sure we got Jason Kidd, one of the best creators/distributors in the game, and he was going to make life easy for shooters like Josh Howard, Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry.

But we all know what happened. Howard never really gelled with Kidd (which seems to be, in retrospect, Howard’s fault), the Mavericks were ousted in the first round in 2008 by the Hornets, and ousted in the second round by the Nuggets in 2009.

That doesn’t speak to Jason Kidd and his abilities. After all, the success of distributors is only as good as the people around them. Jason Kidd does not have enough of an offensive game to carry a team in the respect.

LeBron James is a great example. Part of his otherworldly gifts include a passer’s eye possessed by only the best basketball players. LeBron has a much better offensive game than Kidd, which is why he’s gone farther than Kidd has with the Mavericks.

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But LeBron also spent the 2007 Finals dishing the ball to Eric Snow and Larry Hughes, and wasn’t able to win a single game.

Jason Kidd has had the fortune of passing to a great shooter like Dirk, but he’s also been passing to the hot-and-cold Terry, an unmotivated Howard and a lead-gloved Erick Dampier.

But all of a sudden the Mavericks, energized by another February trade, are playing their best basketball of the season, and Jason Kidd is a huge reason behind it.

One need not look farther than Kidd’s historic performance against the Atlanta Hawks Friday night, when he did something that only three others in NBA history had done (two of which are a couple of unknowns by the name of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson), getting a triple-fifteen, with 19 points, 17 assists and 16 rebounds.

Take a second to look at how incredible that is. Its amazing when people like Tim Duncan, Dwight Howard and Carlos Boozer snag 16 rebounds. A point guard doing it is almost unheard of.

The numbers are something else from Kidd’s performance, but he also had one of those plays, one of those intangible plays that turns the momentum to your favor, and those plays are essential for a team battling on the road (which the Mavs were) and from a large, late deficit (which the Mavs were).

Atlanta Coach Mike Woodson was on the court calling out a play for the team, and he lingered a little too long, and Kidd took advantage, creating contact and resulting in an automatic technical foul.

Now people (particularly Hawks fans) took umbrage with Kidd’s maneuver, saying it was cheap, it was bending the rules, blah, blah, blah. All of it is stupid, and if you don’t think it was a fantastic play, you’re just jealous that a player on your team didn’t use a move that like your team in a close game.

For a full rebuttal on the criticism levies at Kidd, visit DallasBasketball.com.

Since the All-Star break, Kidd’s numbers have gone way up, and the results can be seen in the Mavericks record since the break, where they’re 6-1.

We know we’re going to get assists from Kidd, that’s what he was put on this earth to do. But his newfound scoring touch has really made the Mavs a team to be reckoned with.

He has scored in double-digits every game since the All-Star break, which is absolutely HUGE for a team with the Mavericks, who have a lot of shooters.

We saw it at the end of the Hawks game, where the defense was forced to start paying attention to Kidd along the perimeter, and as a result, players like Dirk, Terry, Haywood, Marion and in the future Caron Butler are going to be open.

Kidd’s weakness in the scoring department allowed teams to leave him alone so they could double team someone else, but with Kidd hitting his shots, defenses aren’t going to leave him alone, freeing up the better offensive players on the Mavs for better looks.

A Mavs team where Jason Kidd is an offensive weapon is a very dangerous team indeed.

We’ve seen what he Mavs can do against good teams, as their win streak includes wins over playoff teams like the Hawks, Lakers, Suns, Magic and Heat.

The win over the Lakers was the first time they've beaten them with Gasol playing. And the Mavs didn't have Butler. 

All of a sudden, the Mavs are looking like the team that no one wants to play in the first round. And with Jason Kidd playing the way he is and his teammates responding in kind, they’re right in being afraid.

For my writing on the NBA's Southwest Division, check me out at Fan Huddle.