One of Dallas Mavericks fans’ biggest gripes with former coach Rick Carlisle was his refusal to give minutes to young players. Carlisle never gave rookies like Josh Green, Tyrell Terry, or Tyler Bey a lot of time on the court, even in games where multiple starters were out with injuries or Covid-19 protocols. It was a common theme throughout Carlisle’s entire tenure with the Mavericks.
Terry and Bey are gone now, but Green remains. The hope was that new head coach Jason Kidd would approach the young players’ minutes a bit differently than Carlisle. Perhaps the Mavericks, with a new coach and a new front office, would be more invested in developing Green and other young players by giving them actual playing time.
But so far, that hasn’t been the case. In fact, his minutes have decreased, though the sample size is small this season. Through eight games, Green is averaging 6.8 minutes per game, down from his 11.4 per game under Carlisle last season. He’s logged three DNP-Coach’s Decision’s.
Green’s season high in minutes is 16:39, against the Denver Nuggets in a blowout loss. If you subtract that game, Green is averaging a paltry four minutes per game. You could go even further and take out his time against the Houston Rockets, when the Mavericks’ leadership council asked Kidd to give every active player minutes in the home opener. Without those two games, Green would have only seen about 14 minutes on the court this year.
That’s not exactly what people were hoping for going into the season.
Green is one of the few young assets the Mavericks have, and he’s quite a raw player. In order for him to develop into either a rotation piece or a trade asset, Green needs plenty of minutes to play through the mistakes a young player must go through. But the Mavericks have playoff aspirations that don’t line up with the growing pains of an inexperienced wing with upside. If there was any hope that Kidd might be able to intertwine the two, it’s waning two weeks into the season.
Kidd’s first job was with a veteran laden team in Brooklyn. There were big expectations, and anything short of a championship would be considered a failure. The roster carried prime Deron Williams and Brook Lopez, along with recent champions Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Jason Terry.
Despite that, Kidd managed to give rookie Mason Plumlee 18 minutes per game. That’s seven more per game than Green averaged in Dallas last season. Fellow rookie Jorge Gutierrez averaged 16.5 minutes per game, though only through 15 games. Gutierrez was also a 25 year-old rookie. Second-year players Marquis Teague and Tornike Shengelia, however, only logged 9.6 and 8.1 mpg, respectively.
When Kidd moved to Milwaukee, he took over a completely different type of team. The Bucks were nowhere near ready to compete for a championship, and loaded with young players in need of development. So of course they would get plenty of minutes. There was no one else available.
Future MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, in his second year, averaged 31 minutes per game. Michael Carter-Williams, fresh off a Rookie of the Year campaign, logged 30 minutes per game. Rookie Jabari Parker was on the court for 29 a night. Khris Middleton, in his third year, averaged 30 minutes. Even rookie Tyler Ennis got 14 minutes per game on a team loaded with guards. Kidd fed young players minutes and kept aging veterans on the bench.
So in two different situations, Kidd found minutes for young and inexperienced players. But he’s not finding them for Green. It’s too early to say Green won’t work out in Dallas, but it’s not far off. Two coaches, one of them highly regarded and the other with a history of playing young players, won’t put Green on the court.
Green has yet to show any consistent basketball skill outside of energy. That would probably be enough to earn a rotation spot on a lottery team considering his athleticism and measurables. But on a team with aspirations of a deep playoff run, it’s not enough. That may not be fair to Green, but it’s the reality right now.