Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Why Do I Want the Mavericks to Swap Kidd for Nash?

Nash is a great player, as evidenced by his two M.V.P.s (even thought I do not think he deserved these.) At 36, he is still playing near or at the level of these seasons. He does everything you want from your point guard on the offensive end: he penetrates at will, he does not overdribble, he keeps the ball moving and, most importantly, he makes the right decisions. He also has the added benefit of shooting like an elite shooting guard.

Kidd was a great player, he is no longer the type that can dribble penetrate, he still makes good decisions but he has been ravaged by declining skills and his offensive role has basically been relegated to spot-up specialist.

Why, then, would I love to see a swap of Kidd for Nash so that if my Celtics meet the Mavericks in the Finals they would have a much better chance at winning?

One forgotten aspect of basketball analysis has been personalities. Personalities matter on the court and a team must have the right mix of personalities in order to succeed.

Nash makes basketball fun and exciting. He relishes getting his teammates open and going on the fast break with him. Even at his age, his enthusiasm and effort are visible to anyone watching the Suns play.

Jason Kidd does not have near the same type of temperament. He is a killer on the court and makes the hard-nosed play guys half his age would not be willing to sacrifice themselves for. And this personality rubs off on a team where the leader, Dirk Nowitzki, has more of a Nash-like temperament. Two Nashes do not make a fight, and the Mavericks need Kidd in the mix for his personality and leadership skills much more than they do for his basketball skills.

Their differences can be shown on the defensive end.

Nash is still athletic and quick, and can keep up with the quick, young point guard generation developing in the NBA. No one, however, would confuse Nash with someone who is even mediocre at the defensive end. The problem seems to be basketball IQ rather than effort or athletic ability.

The problem some players have, whether professional or just pickup players, is the play THEIR defense instead of the defense tailored to the player and team their covering and their own skill set and team. Nash stays with his defender using his quickness, but this is not the best way to cover a lot of point guards. Some point guard, such as Rajon Rondo, should be given space to shoot, should be played in the passing lane and should be ciphened off to a big man in the paint on a drive. The reason players like Rondo need to be pushed into help D around the basket is they are way too nifty shooting from close range to be handled by someone their own size.

Kidd has lost the ability to chase these quicker point guards or stop them on the drive. He, however, has trust in his teammates behind him and still knows how to cut the angles down so the opposing point guard is pushed into a bad shot. This is a skill Nash has never had.

The other part of this equation is how teammates will react to an addition.

Nash has a similar personality to Nowitzki, and his fun-loving, selfless play is just going to hurt the team.

Imagine Nowitzki and Nash, who are buddies, constantly passing up good shots because they want to get the other and other teammates involved. How would this help the Mavericks?

Kidd is someone who demands the ball less than Nash (good for the Mavericks because they already have Nowitzki and Terry, both players who like to have the ball in their hands) and who's penchant for making diving plays and grabbing tough rebounds is much more established than both his teammates' and Nash's. This personality is bound to rub off on his teammates on some way.

The last thing to consider is acquiring Nash would require a keep overhaul of an offensive and defensive system that is working so well right now. The Mavericks are one of 7 title contenders (the Spurs, Celtics, Heat, Bulls, Lakers and Magic being the others...I do not think New Orleans will keep up this pace) and making a trade that will re-make their whole chemistry mid-season for a team that does not have another two or three years (or maybe even one) makes no sense.

If their players and Nash three years younger and if they had the opportunity to bring someone on that losing Kidd would give up in terms of personality, skills and chemistry, it would make sense. Right now, it would be a terrible decision, and such a decision would mean the end of the Mavericks' season at best in the Western Conference Finals, but more likely the second round.