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In defense of Josh Green

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The second year player is worth considering

Dallas Mavericks v Cleveland Cavaliers Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images

This is from Jordan Ennis, a Mavericks fan and draft aficionado. You can find him on twitter @BaturePreacher and his podcast the Assisted Development.

There has been an incredible amount of wailing and gnashing of teeth about the Dallas Mavericks picking Josh Green over Saddiq Bey.

This tweet from Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report set Mavericks Twitter on fire. Many love the fact that yet another thing can be thrown at the front office as a failure. With all of the, what can only generously be called turmoil in the upper echelons of Dallas decision makers anger is a natural reaction. However, I would ask us to change that point of view. We must not let the fact that the wrong person chose Green taint the reality that he was a great pick for the Mavericks.

USA Today graded Dallas with a B- on draft night. SB Nation gave the Green pick a B. CBS a C+. Sporting news a B. The Ringer an A. That’s only one bad grade in the first page of Google.

Saddiq Bey and Desmond Bane were the two most wanted players by most fans— based on my admittedly imperfect memory— when the Mavericks had the eighteenth pick of the draft. Bey was a 21 year old wing out of Villanova who is a three point sniper and would have been the best pick if the Mavericks only cared about offense off the bench for this season. Bane was really only wanted because he was from TCU and played on the wing (Editor’s note again: also he can shoot the hell out of the ball and also pass). It should be noted that Bane projected as a negative defender. Both had extremely good regular seasons for rebuilding teams, Bey in particular became an even better shooter than he was in college.

This brings us to Josh Green. He’s two years younger than the other wings. Green is more raw and built on physical skills. Green has a 39.5” vertical, he measured 6’5” with a plus five wingspan and a top five lane agility drill time. Green had just come off a solid freshman season where he had comparable shooting numbers to Bane’s freshman year:

  • 30 of 83 from three and 85 of 109 from the line for Green
  • 30 of 79 then 43 of 56 for Bane.

Bey shot a similar percentage on threes his freshman year(49 of 131) but was only 29 of45 from the charity stripe. Green is on a completely different level as a defender and athlete compared to the other two players and started with similar offense at the same age. Bey was the 83rd ranked recruit, Bane was unrated and Green, a McDonalds All-American was 17th.

Those reasons, along with potential fit next to Luka Doncic, led to the Mavericks choosing Green over Bey and Bane. Let’s focus on that fit part a tiny bit.

Before we move on I want to remember who Green was coming into the draft. Not the tiny sample we have in the NBA.

Green has an ability to hit shots he just didn’t under the harsh and demoralizing coaching of Rick Carlisle. Green would make a minor mistake and then be benched for weeks. This led to major confidence issues as well as frustration as he watched other players be allowed to make worse mistakes than he committed.

In the past we have tried mainly guards next to Luka Doncic:

  1. Dennis Smith Jr, a hyper athlete who could play-make for others
  2. Delon Wright a defensive playmaker
  3. Wes Mathews a “three and d” wing
  4. Josh Richardson a long defender and cutter.

In theory Josh Green can be all of these. Let’s take a look.

Josh Green is an athlete.

Josh Green is a defender.

Josh Green is a cutter.

Josh Green is an excellent passer.

(That pass was the best non Luka pass by any Mav last year). Green is probably the second best passer on the Mavericks seeing passes that most players do not.

Josh Green in his larger sample size in college was a shooter.

Things did not work out ideally for Green in Dallas as Trey Burke, Brunson, Richardson, Wes Iwundu, and Dorian Finney-Smith all ended up over him in the rotation. That is not ideal for developing young talent. Carlisle is a fantastic coach but one who is notorious for hating rookie mistakes. Green needed to play through mistakes to build up momentum establish chemistry with Luka Doncic.

In the G-League bubble Green had per 36 minute averages 16 points, six rebounds, four assists, and three steals over six games. In the final games of the season he played 15 minutes a game with a +2.1 BPM, mainly because he tried hard on the court.

It’s worth holding on to Josh Green stock. He’s a strong guard with unteachable athleticism, speed, energy and passing. Feel and recognition will come with playing time.

In the future Green should spend extended time next to Luka Doncic. Much has been made about the Mavericks needing a secondary creator— DeMar DeRozen, Lonzo Ball, Goran Dragic or a trade target like Terry Rozier. But the Mavericks have one on the team now; he’s cost controlled, a dedicated hard worker, and people believed in him before he was buried on a bench. The Mavericks owe it to themselves and to Green to try and make him a starter, it’s the path they might be forced to take, but it’s also a path which could lead to amazing rewards down the line.

In short, Joshua B. Green is the perfect starting guard next to Luka in the long term. Whether or not the next Jason Kidd agrees remains to be seen.