As he enters his first season with the Mavericks, it’s defense that needs to be addressed if the team is finally going to make it out of the first round of the playoffs. Luckily, Kidd was able to study under Vogel, who coached the Lakers to become the top defensive team in the NBA last season.
“He showed me what it takes to be the best defense in the league,” said Kidd on media day when asked what he learned during his time alongside Vogel.
Last season, the Lakers had the best defensive rating in the NBA at 106.8 in the regular season. It takes a collective team effort to accomplish this, with Kidd seeing firsthand what it takes to make that happen.
Protecting the Paint
Even in the modern NBA where the 3-point shot is king, it’s important to have rim protection. Last season, the Mavericks allowed 45.2 points in the paint per game, which was actually seventh-best in the NBA. This is still something Kidd will improve upon in year one at the helm.
The Mavericks should have plenty of protection in the paint this season with a variety of 7-footers. In fact, they’ve got three of the tallest players in the NBA with Moses Brown (7-foot-2), Kristaps Porzingis (7-foot-3) and Boban Marjanovic (7-foot-4).
While size doesn’t always relate to rim protection, all three of these bigs should be serviceable on defense. Last season, Brown and Porzingis combined for 2.4 blocks blocks per game on their respective teams. Marjanovic isn’t much of a shot blocker, but with his size is always able to contest shots.
Additionally, Dallas has guys like Willie Cauley-Stein and Maxi Kleber who produced 43 and 35 total blocks last season respectively.
Length on the Perimeter
Dallas did struggle quite a bit defending the perimeter last season. In fact, they allowed their opponents to knock down 12.8 3-pointers per game, which was below the league average. Additionally, they had the ninth-worst defensive rating (112.3) in the NBA.
When it comes down to it, the best teams in the NBA are better than the league average on the defensive side of the ball. Both the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns, who made it to the NBA Finals, were top-ten defenses last season.
One player who will look to help the Mavericks improve on their perimeter defense this season is Frank Ntilikina. The 23-year-old guard is a former lottery pick with a 7-foot-1 wingspan and is known for his defense.
If Dallas is able to become a top-ten defense this season, they’ll likely have a ton of success. They finished eighth in offensive rating and were first the season before. The Mavericks shouldn’t have any trouble scoring the ball efficiently this season.
Especially in the playoffs, where defense could have helped close out their series against the LA Clippers, it’s become an issue and has been their major downfall. It’s no secret that this is something that must be addressed by Kids this season.