The Dallas Mavericks are opening the season at a disadvantage. They don’t have a dependable third ball handling option. Having three capable guards to run the offense is what helped last year’s squad make its run to the Western Conference Finals.
One player won’t be responsible for taking the pressure of Luka Doncic and Spencer Dinwiddie. Instead, it will be a committee. However, one name that has surfaced as potentially stepping into that role—and a larger one overall—is Josh Green.
“Josh’s work is paying off,” Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd said after practice Friday. “I think when you ask him, his summer was big. He took the minutes that he had, he worked with the coaches, spent some time on his game, and you can see the payoff. I think it’s just the tip of the iceberg for him. He’s just starting. He’s playing at a high level and that’s good because we need him.”
Green spent time in Las Vegas working out with the Summer League team over the summer. He also trained with Kyle Lowry, playing one-on-one and two-on-two games with Lowry and says he was playing pick-up every day. He was motivated to improve his game and focused on one aspect in particular.
“I think ball handling was my biggest thing,” Green said. “Just being comfortable having the ball in my hand, creating my own shot. That’s been something I haven’t been confident in doing in games. I would try to look to pass instead of going and scoring. That’s been my biggest emphasis this year—working on creating my shot and handling the ball.”
During the Mavericks’ deep playoff run last season, opponents regularly exploited Green’s timidity while he was in the game. He was a liability often, playing an average of just 7.6 minutes per game and shooting 28.6 percent in 16 appearances. Green says that he can’t stomach watching those games.
“I think the big thing is that you learn,” Kidd said. “I think he’s answered that question: What did he learn from the playoffs? They’re going to put the center or the non-defender on him. So, he’s worked on his game. Shooting the three, shooting it well, handling the ball, and being able to make plays. Just being a basketball player.”
Kidd can relate to Green’s situation, although at a tail end of his career when, as Kidd puts it, he couldn’t move. He’s been able to share some insight on those experiences with Green and expects that Green will make teams pay if they continue to ignore him given his continued work.
One of the areas that Kidd sees as a growth opportunity for Green is transition offense. He’d like to see Green play at a more controlled pace rather than being a “hot potato” on the court. So far, Kidd likes what he’s seen in training camp.
“He’s comfortable with the ball,” Kidd said. “I think you can see that as he brings the ball up. We want to see him and Frank [Ntilikina] run the offense without Luka and Spencer to see how these two can do.”
It’s safe to say that the Mavericks aren’t tempering their expectations for Green heading into the new season. He has the potential to become a featured player in the offense if all his offseason work translates onto the court. At the very least, Green is entering his third year with the desire and conviction to improve.
“I think, going into year three, everything is a lot more slowed down,” Green said. “I’m a lot more confident. My teammates are a lot more confident in me. That helps me. When I have veterans helping me out that are confident in me, that just keeps you going.”