If the Dallas Mavericks are going to elevate their game to the next level in the upcoming season, it starts with defense. Last season, they finished with a defensive rating of 112.6, which was ninth-worst in the NBA.
After signing Jason Kidd as their new head coach this summer, the Mavericks have the opportunity to hit reset on the defensive end of the floor, as a new coach comes with a new philosophy. Kidd has a solid background in understanding what it takes to be a top defense in the league.
Newly acquired guard Sterling Brown is already starting to see how Kidd could help the team improve on that end of the floor.
Brown spoke to The Athletic’s Tim Cato during training camp, giving insight into the Mavericks putting extra emphasis on the defensive end of the floor.
“Yeah, that’s definitely straight from J-Kidd’s mentality,” Brown told Cato. “You’ve got to fight for it first, and then if you need some help, you can rely on your teammates, your guys that are around you. That’s definitely what his defensive structure is.”
The Mavericks are going to be held accountable on an individual basis on defense. However, they also will need to have each others’ backs and know that if they get beat, the defense can adjust appropriately to help.
“You’ve got to be able to defend and the team will be there to help, but deep runs in the playoffs are going to take that mentality and everyone can hold their own. There’s going to be great players we play, great scorers who you can’t stop from scoring. But we can try to limit them, contain them, and that team defense will always be there,” said Brown.
Especially in the postseason, the best players in the NBA find a way to score the ball. Often in isolation or in pick-and-roll situations, individual defense and trusting teammates becomes even more of an emphasis. It’s nearly impossible to shut down the premier scorers in the league, but even slowing them down can result in a win.
“That’s just the energy in the group that we have from the coaches to the players, we’ve got a good group that’s always energetic, always helping each other out,” Brown told Cato. “I feel like that will cover up some individual letups.”
This mentality on defense is certainly different than what the Mavericks have had in the past. This new scheme will allow them to be more fluid with their switches and how they defend those isolation and pick-and-roll plays.
Brown himself is a solid defender, using his 6-food-5 frame to make life difficult for guards on the perimeter. However, he wasn’t the only player that Dallas added this summer that should help defensively.
The Mavericks also signed Reggie Bullock, who at 6-foot-6 was one of the better defenders on the New York Knicks last season. Finally, Frank Ntilikina was the final piece added to the roster to help Dallas defensively. Although he’s only 6-foot-4, the French guard has a 7-foot-1 wingspan and has been known for being a solid defender his entire career.
While these three players will need to actually take the court and prove they can elevate the Dallas defense this season, the potential they bring on that end of the court is certainly reason for optimism.