Season in review
Josh Green was divisive from the moment his name was called on draft night. Many interested parties — certainly including many here at Mavs Moneyball and across #MFFL Twitter — had sights set on hometown product Desmond Bane out of TCU at pick number 18. Others liked the idea of a double dose of Villanova products, pairing former Wildcat Jalen Brunson with Saddiq Bey, who ended up being selected a pick later at 19. There were a handful of Josh Green proponents scattered around, but they were certainly not a majority. Nevertheless, most seemed to walk away from draft night at least able to admit that adding a tough, defensive-minded 6’5 shooting guard to the back court couldn’t hurt.
As the season wore on, Green became devise for entirely different reasons. Mainly, arguments around how much playing time he should be getting. With Dallas declining to field a G League team amidst a covid-shortened season, Green was rented out to the Jazz affiliate Salt Lake City Stars. The six games he played for the Stars was too small a sample size to draw many conclusions, but he wasn’t exactly putting up the kind of numbers that demanded playing time in the big leagues. And so Rick didn’t. Mind you, this was after calling Green a “ready to go 3-and-D guy,” on draft night. So already, reality was clashing with expectations.
Rick Carlisle said Josh Green is "terrific athlete" who fills Mavs' need for wing defenders: "We feel that he’s a ready-to-go 3-and-D guy, and we also feel that he has the ability to make plays."— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) November 19, 2020
Among first round picks who played in the league this season, the Dallas Mavericks’ first round selection logged just 445 minutes. Only three first rounders played fewer. Calls for Green to play grew louder as the shortened season seemed to drag on forever, with many calling for something, anything, to inject some energy into the lineup. But Green proved to be just too raw of a project for anything other than spot minutes and a handful of emergency starts during the Mavericks’ covid-induced stumble in late January.
Meanwhile, Bey and Bane both ended top six in minutes played and finished with the fourth and fifth highest VORP among rookies, respectively.
Green’s aforementioned lack of playing time prevented him from showing out too much this season. The times he did provide a spark, it was usually due to a hustle play or solid defense like he showed in the game late in the season against Miami. Green was a plus-17 in 23 minutes and snatched three steals to go with four points and four rebounds.
Green’s offensive game is clearly a work in progress. For a guy billed as a “ready to go” 3-and-D player, he never took more than three shots from distance in a game (something he did only once all season), and shot an ugly 16% from distance for the season. For last season at least, he made his mark with energy and hustle.
Green will be entering the second year of his four-year rookie contract next season, with seasons three and four containing team options.
It’s hard to call this season anything other than a wash. We didn’t see much from Green, but the optimistic among us have to assume we also didn’t get a chance to see all that he had to offer. For a player like Green who clearly needs additional development, the better test will be how he looks after a true off season of team activities and training camp. The sudden December start to this season caught many on the Dallas Mavericks off guard. Notably Luka Doncic, who had to play himself into game shape on the fly after an offseason spent mainly on a boat if his social media was anything to go by, as well as Kristaps Porzingis, who was out, still rehabbing an offseason knee surgery. For a guy like Green, it meant no time to build up the confidence and familiarity with the NBA game that a player needs if they’re going to extract minutes from a coach as stingy and demanding as Carlisle.
The Mavericks selected Green because he is a fantastic athlete with great measurables in a position of need, banking on the idea that they’ll be able to teach him how to be an NBA player as a matter of course. If you’re charitable, they get a pass for a year one that provided precious little time to prepare a new player to contribute to a team with big post season aspirations. That leeway may all but disappear in year two, depending on how the rest of the offseason shakes out.