Luka Doncic Embraces Jason Kidd’s ‘Tough Love’ Coaching

Luka Doncic and Mavs Coach Jason Kidd have developed a strong bond thanks to Kidd’s “tough love” approach to coaching the 23-year-old superstar.

The mutual respect and trust between Luka Magic and Kidd are just getting started through Year 1 of Kidd’s coaching tenure in Dallas has been fruitful. The Mavs (52-30) finished the regular season with the fourth-best record in the West. Doncic earned his third All-Star nod and is likely headed to another All-NBA selection. , Doncic finished with 28.4 points, 9.1 rebounds, and 8.7 assists per game through 65 appearances this past season.

What helped facilitate the Doncic-Kidd bond was assistant coach Igor Kokoskov. He coached Doncic on the Slovenian national team in 2017 and won a EuroLeague championship together when both were with Real Madrid, capped off by Doncic winning EuroLeague MVP and EuroLeague Final Four MVP in 2018.

Kokoskov was added to Kidd’s staff last summer, where he has been tasked with the significant tasks of lead offensive strategist and the go-to confidant for Doncic.

“Jason was one of the best point guards to ever play the game,” Mavericks assistant Igor Kokoskov said per the Dallas Morning News. “Luka respects his career and what he did in this league. A lot of things Jason did 20, 25 years ago, Luka is wanting to achieve right now. He understands that and is very open, willing to listen, willing to get better, willing to be coached.”

According to Kokoskov, Doncic and Kidd “have a great, great relationship” because Kidd has been able to get through to Doncic because Kidd doesn’t fuss and carry on like the coaches who groomed Doncic have been. Instead of shouting and getting in players’ faces, Kidd typically asks Doncic about his preferences and views, discussing basketball in a conversational matte.

Kidd also gives Doncic plenty of rope, and when situations aren’t going well, he will help Doncic make in-game adjustments to help turn things around.

Although Kidd may be a players-coach, he’s not afraid to push Doncic in the right direction. In particular, Kidd has criticized Doncic for his conditioning and Luka Legends’ habit of complaining to refs when calls don’t go his way. Kidd’s comments led to Doncic getting into game shape while Doncic only picked up three technical fouls since March.

“That’s where you, even more, trust him,” Doncic said before joking: “He don’t get mad at me a lot. Maybe he’s got to do that some more.”

Game 4 of the WCF is scheduled for Tuesday, with Dallas looking to extend the series to five games with a win over the Golden State Warriors. No team in League playoff history has come back from a 3-0 series hole.