The Time Is Now
Still one of the best, Jason Kidd is key for Dallas.
by Keith Schlosser / @KnicksJournal
Many NBA fans recognize that the NBA Finals feature a matchup of Dirk Nowitzki, the loyal marksman who has stayed in Dallas to peruse an NBA title, and LeBron James, the MVP candidate who bolted Cleveland for South Beach for the next chapter in a quest of his own.
That being said, the series between the Heat and Mavericks is also a matchup of star power vs. depth. While the Heat keep have an explosive offense of James and his “Big Three” counterparts, Nowitzki is surrounded by a full balanced attack.
Among others, the Mavericks have a defensive top dog in Tyson Chandler, a big boost off the bench in Jason Terry, and one of the league’s most versatile talents in Shawn Marion. However, no one is seemingly as crucial to the team’s success as future Hall of Fame point guard Jason Kidd.
At 38 years old, Kidd is the oldest guard to start for his team in the NBA Finals. He very well should take pride in that distinction, as with age has come a wealth of valuable experience.
A seasoned veteran, Kidd has led his team to the playoffs for fourteen straight seasons now. Though he is yet to win the ultimate prize, he led the New Jersey Nets to two consecutive NBA Finals appearances in 2002 and 2003.
These garnered accomplishments should point to one thing: Kidd’s time is almost certainly now. Though while on the Nets earlier in his career, he was the starring attraction and a savior of sorts, Kidd now serves as the one who ties the knot and perhaps more literally, connects the dots for this highly talented Mavericks squad.
When Kidd is on, it’s hard for the Mavericks not to be. In fact, despite the team’s 92-84 game one loss to the Heat, it’s largely due to Kidd that his squad was competitive throughout.
Though Miami’s smothering defense was enough to bother just about the entire Mavericks team, Kidd was able to power through during much of the game and his impact went well beyond his 9 points, 6 assists, and 4 rebounds.
Kidd’s court vision is second to none, as his passes are almost already in his teammates’ hands as soon as they leave his. In addition to his 6 assists, Kidd was also able to help execute other offensive conversions, often dishing out the pass to an assist. He simply has a knack for knowing exactly where his teammates are and making sure his team makes the most out of each offensive opportunity. With so many offensive weapons to turn to, Kidd’s playmaking ability makes him the perfect floor general for Dallas.
Despite being one of the league’s elder statesmen, Kidd has been able to stay one of the best because of his incredibly sound fundamental skills. He has excelled throughout his entire career that way. While many point guards thrive from their speed and ability to push the ball, Kidd’s game has been able to see less of a decline over the years because he plays with mind over matter.
Kidd has found success draining the long ball again and again, rather than attempting to drive to the hoop against the younger and quicker defender. All 9 of his points in Game 1 just so happened to come from behind the arc.
Though the Miami Heat’s “Big Three” are certainly attempting to do something special this season, there’s no denying that Kidd has put in the time and effort to perhaps be more deserving of a championship.
As true as that may be, he needs to take all the experience he has to help his team overcome its overwhelming competition. The Mavericks hopes for success during this series may very well depend on Kidd, because as one of the best point guards to ever play the game, he has the ability to elevate the skills of each and every one of his teammates. If he is unable to execute, however, his team will fall short of its first NBA title.