Jason Kidd Still the Key to a Dallas Mavericks Championship

Keith L.Correspondent IMarch 31, 2010

NEW ORLEANS - MARCH 22:  Jason Kidd #2 of the Dallas Mavericks drives the ball during the game against the New Orleans Hornets at the New Orleans Arena on March 22, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  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 Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

At 37 years old, this is probably Jason Kidd's last shot at the NBA Championship, and it also happens to be the Dallas Mavericks best ever shot at the title.

The Mavericks acquired, who was at the time, a 34-year-old point guard nearing the end of his career in exchange for the future-of-the-franchise Devin Harris and two first round draft picks.

The Mavericks believed they needed a true floor general and seasoned veteran to lead them into the playoffs, two characteristics that Kidd possessed.

Under former coach Avery Johnson though, Kidd was restricted to passing to Dirk Nowitzki on the block and becoming a weak-side three-point shooter.

While Kidd did make 46.1 percent of his threes as a Maverick that year, Johnson did not take advantage of Kidd's strengths and was fired after being eliminated by the New Orleans Hornets in the playoffs.

Then comes Rick Carlisle, the current head coach. He began the 2008-09 season hoping to take advantage of Kidd's court vision and passing by employing the Princeton offense.

However, it was a bad fit for the rest of his team and he trashed the entire playbook in favor of letting Jason Kidd run most of the offense.

After a blowout loss against Boston later in the year, Carlisle told Kidd to call all of the shots in the game, which eventually resulted in the Mavericks making it to the second round of the playoffs for the first time in three years.

Fast forward to today: The Mavericks are currently second in the West, and leading the show is a revitalized Jason Kidd.

Kidd provides this team with the true qualities of a championship caliber point guard: court vision, passing, basketball IQ, clutch shooting, and most importantly, a calming presence.

So many times this year, The Mavericks have double digit leads over teams thanks to Jason Kidd creating easy shots for his teammates, directing the defense, and pushing the ball in transition.

So many times this year, The Mavericks have blown double digit leads over teams thanks to JJ Barea and Jason Terry dominating the ball, getting beat on defense, and looking lost on offense.

The Mavericks, as constituted, consist of three undersized guards in Barea, Terry, and Roddy Beaubois.

They also have a superimposed shooting guard in Caron Butler, a power forward in a small forward body in Shawn Marion, and in his essence, an over-sized shooting guard in Dirk Nowitzki.

Not the look of a traditional championship team, but positions get thrown out in the window with Jason Kidd in the open floor.

Carlisle tries to get his 37 year old point guard the most rest he can for the playoffs, but is often forced to play Kidd much more than he wants.

Referring back to his calming presence, it is not uncommon against The Mavs to see teams make double digit runs to tie the game or get ahead in the fourth quarter. Jason Kidd comes in without panicking, and takes as long as needed to find a shot for his teammate, or hit a momentum-changing three himself.

His knowledge of basketball can also not be ignored. So many times Kidd has salvaged wins with his (in our eyes) risky defensive plays in the clutch. A double team on Chris Paul last year while leaving Rasual Butler open at the three with just seconds left in the game is one example of those risky plays that led to victory.

With the playoffs coming up soon and every game being so important, Jason Kidd and his teammates have clearly been stepping up their play. They must afford their elder statesman all of the rest he can get if they even want to think about making the Finals.

The time for Kidd and Co. to win is now, and if Jason Kidd's legs can hold up until June, Mark Cuban will finally be able to hold up the coveted Larry O'Brien Trophy stolen from him in 2006.


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