Kidd, the oldest guard in the NBA, is unsurprisingly not handling the NBA's condensed 66-game schedule all that well.
In 16 games this year, he's averaging career lows in nearly every category: minutes (28.7), points (4.1), rebounds (4.4), assists (5.1) and shooting percentage (28.2%). In the most telling sign of how far his athleticism has slipped, he's taken only 5% of his shots inside the lane this season.â†µ
He's not killing Dallas when he's on the floor, and you figure his numbers will go up somewhat as the year progresses and he gets his legs underneath him.â†µ
But in the last two games Kidd has been out, home wins over Utah and San Antonio, Dallas has given third-year guard Rodrigue Beaubois the chance to run the show at the point, and he's responded with the best basketball of his career.â†µ
After not playing more than 21 minutes in any of the Mavericks first 19 games, the 6'2 185 combo guard from Guadalupe has averaged 35.5 minutes in the last two without Kidd. He's been a game-changing force on both sides of the floor, averaging 18 points on 51.2% shooting, 7 assists on 1.5 turnovers, 4.5 rebounds and 3.5 blocks.â†µ
You obviously have to take a two-game sample with a grain of salt, but at this point in their careers, Beaubois' upside is far higher than Kidd's. Not only is he running the point extremely well, but he's penetrating into the heart of the lane as well as providing a surprising defensive presence on the floor.â†µ
He's always had the talent: he has a 6'10 wingspan and a maximum vertical of 39' inches to go along with a great-initial burst, excellent ball-handling ability and a smooth and quick release on his jumper. As a rookie, he dropped 40 points on the Golden State Warriors and 16 points in 20 minutes against the Spurs in a first-round playoff game.â†µ
That combination of athleticism and wingspan is part of what makes Dwyane Wade such a dominant player, as it's nearly impossible for most guards to defend a floater from a 6'10+ release point. In no way is Beaubois even close to the player or the athlete Wade is, but he can get his shot off on at will, it's just a matter of how consistent he can become knocking it down.â†µ
He started off last year with a broken foot that persisted most of the season and, by the time he got back, the Mavericks had a veteran back-court rotation of Jason Kidd, DeShawn Stevenson, Jason Terry and JJ Barea rolling, keeping him on the bench during most of their playoff run.â†µ
Now, in his third year in the NBA, Dallas needs to know what they have in their 23-year old guard. He'll have off-nights, as he's still only three seasons removed from playing in a lower-level French league, but he needs to have the confidence to play his game knowing he won't get a quick pull for making a few mistakes.â†µ
A Dallas team that features Beaubois and Delonte West, two athletic 6'2+ combo guards who can defend on the perimeter, attack the rim and make plays for their teammates, is far more dangerous than one that gives Kidd 25-30 minutes a night. Combine those two with Jason Terry off the bench, and the Mavericks have one of the most potent back-courts in the NBA.â†µ
Kidd, who is still a replacement-level point guard and is a widely respected locker room presence, doesn't necessarily need to be benched when he returns from his latest injury. Much like in the 2008 Olympics, he could start the game but give way to more talented younger players in crunch time.â†µ
With Dirk clearly not at 100%, Dallas can't afford to sacrifice offense from as many positions on the floor as they did last year. And if Beaubois can maintain somewhere near this level of production, the Mavericks would have an extremely attractive core at the 2-4 positions -- Beaubois, Marion, whose added a three-point shot and a consistent post game this season, and Dirk -- going forward.â†µ
That's something a certain point guard and center entering free agency next summer might be interested in.