The Dallas Mavericks made tremendous use of switching their guards' defensive assignments last season and particularly so in playoff series against the Los Angeles Lakers, Oklahoma City Thunder and Miami Heat.
At a rugged, 6-foot-4, but having lost a step defensively against the league's quicker point guards, Jason Kidd often guarded the opposing shooting guard while Dallas' smaller shooting guards, Jason Terry, J.J. Barea and even the brawnier DeShawn Stevenson, picked up the point guard. The strategy was employed to better match up against the point, but it also paid dividends on the wing as Kidd gave All-Stars Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade fits.
That option, however, could be in shorter supply this season now that Barea and Stevenson are gone, and 6-foot-6 Vince Carter would appear to have the inside track as the starting shooting guard.
"If it ends up being Kidd and Carter we’ll see," coach Rick Carlisle said. "There may be times Vince guards a point guard, I don’t know. Generally speaking, it’s going to be Jason most of the time in that scenario. We’ve got a different team now. That’s just the way it is. We’ll adjust and we’ll do what we have to do, but we’ve moved on and the guys we have now are the guys we’re going to have to win with."
The Thunder provide a good example of times the Mavs like the switch. In the Western Conference finals, Kidd typically guarded starting shooting guard Thabo Sefolosha and Stevenson played a major role defending Russell Westbrook and, at times, even Kevin Durant.
This season the Mavs can switch when Kidd plays alongside Jason Terry or at times Rodrigue Beaubois or Dominique Jones. Carlisle could decide to start Terry and bring Carter off the bench to play with feisty backup point guard Delonte West. But, if Carter is the starter, Kidd will match up at the point.
"We’re both big guards so we’re not going to be able to guard the guy that is extremely fast," Kidd said of he and Carter. "But, we’ve got to make him shoot jump shots. You can have Vince play the 1, 2, 3 and sometimes the 4 because of his athletic ability. Having a guard out there like Jet or Roddy or D.J., we’ll be able to switch a lot."
Kidd sat out the first preseason game on Sunday so tonight should provide the first glimpse at a potential starting lineup and the Mavs' plan of attack defensively.