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#pounditSaturday, July 2, 2022

Jason Kidd issues public challenge for Luka Doncic

Luka Doncic in his Mavericks uniform

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks are now down 0-2 to the Phoenix Suns, and Mavs coach Jason Kidd wants his star player to step up in one aspect of the game.

Kidd spoke with reporters on Friday and was asked about the Suns’ constant hunting of Luka Doncic on defense, specifically in the pick-and-roll.

“It’s no secret, they’re going to put him in every pick-and-roll,” replied Kidd, per ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. “[Opponents] did the same thing with Dirk [Nowitzki] until he participated and stuck up for himself.”

Kidd’s comments here essentially amount to a challenge of Doncic to put forth a better effort on the defensive end. That may be the hard truth that Doncic needs to hear since the Suns have gotten so many easy baskets this series by beating the slow-footed Doncic off the dribble.

On the other hand, it may be an unrealistic ask of Doncic at this point with the load that he is having to carry on offense as well. Doncic is Dallas’ lead scorer and playmaker, and his usage rate has gone up from 37.4 percent in the regular season (already a career-high) to 39.6 percent in the playoffs. That won’t leave any player with much energy for the defensive end.

Still, Kidd has generally been a pleasant surprise in his first season as Mavs coach, leading them further in the playoffs this year than they had been in over a decade. His willingness to challenge Doncic to be better is one clear reason why.

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