Jason Kidd has Dallas playing its best basketball at the right point in the season.

And his inspired coaching has turned a non-defensive team into a top-10 defense in the NBA. That stark turnaround has forced the attention of NBA pundits around ESPN. However, the latest praise comes from Stephen A. Smith, who believes Kidd should be the NBA Coach of the Year.

“I think that Jason should be a candidate for Coach of the Year,” Smith said during the halftime of the Mavericks’ win over Milwaukee on Sunday. “I think Nico Harrison [Mavericks general manager] should be a candidate for executive of the year because he got rid of [Kristaps] Porzingis… Dallas is much better defensively. They are better coached. Jalen Brunson has turned himself into a starting guard. We see what [Spencer] Dinwiddie is doing. And we know what Luka [Doncic] can do. I can’t say enough about what we are seeing from Dallas.”

Dallas’ surprising season 

Smith’s comments are just the latest praise of the Mavericks, who have played some of their best basketball since Jan. 1.

The Mavericks are 49-30, and with a handful of games remaining, they sit on the cusp of taking over the third seed in the Western Conference standings.

This season may also be the Mavericks’ first 50 win season in seven years. Kidd has clearly made a difference.

Doncic loves playing for him. He’s created an atmosphere of open communication that didn’t exist under Rick Carlisle. And it’s no surprise that a number of Dallas’ role players are playing their best under Kidd, who is known for getting the most out of his roster.

If Stephen A. Smith is giving Dallas praise, you know what you’re seeing is legit. And come to the NBA Playoffs, Smith may have even more praise for a team poised to win its first playoff series in a decade.

Related Dallas Mavericks reading 

“Mavericks: Dallas controls the pace in playoff play preview.” 
“Mavericks: The 3rd seed is Dallas, but Jason Kidd has a differing opinion.” 

Feature image via Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports.