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Josh Green is a basketball Rorschach test

Folks see in Green what they want, but Josh Green becoming a real NBA player would be outstanding for Dallas

2021-22 NBA All Access Photo by Jim Poorten/NBAE via Getty Images

Josh Green enters his third NBA season at just 21 years of age, having played in 106 NBA games and 17 playoff games. In those regular season games, he’s averaged a scant 14 minutes per game, while chipping in four points, a hair over two rebounds, and one assist per game. Green did have one big playoff moment, connecting on 4-of-6 field goal attempts in a key Game 3 victory against the Utah Jazz, while the Mavericks were without Luka Doncic.

Thus far, Green’s career has been one more of projection than production. He’s so young and, up until now at least, so very raw. After getting drafted in the strange COVID draft (November 2020), there was no NBA Summer League for him to play in. Then he was all but abandoned by former Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle, going long stretches without playing at all during the 2020-21 season, even when the team had COVID-related roster issues. Then new coach Jason Kidd gave Green more playing time to prove himself, but only his greatest fans would argue he performed well regularly.

Big Question

What is Josh Green’s role on this Mavericks team? Honestly, I have a lot of questions about Green. While its not his fault the Mavericks selected him, his promise in terms of age and measurables haven’t panned out into any kind of regular production for a playoff team that actually needs NBA-rotation minutes.

There’s opportunity for Green. After all, in the playoffs Reggie Bullock and Dorian Finney-Smith played a billion minutes. The Mavericks could use Green soaking up 20-23 minutes a game, hitting the occasional shot, and playing functional defense. Green answers this question by figuring out how to play team basketball and evolve into more than just a blur of unrefined energy. He’s looked really good in the limited video we’ve seen (including that televised practice), so there’s a strong spark of hope that he can be something, it’s just a matter of what.

Best Case Scenario

Have you ever worked at a job where your boss expected you to do more with less? Where the solution to a problem is simply “do more, but better”?

For Green, if he plays more, shoots more, rebounds more, and gets a chance to show off his playmaking skills, perhaps the Josh Green experiment might just take off. I honestly don’t know what a great season looks like for Green. Last year he shot the three ball at a respectable rate, hit over half his field goal attempts, and played really hard.

He just needs to do more while he’s out there. Scoring points isn’t everything, neither is rebounding, or getting assists. But if Green can simply do more with his time on the floor, make an impact to where he is a regular positive contributor, that’s going to be an outstanding outcome for the Mavericks.

Worst Case Scenario

The accidental wallflower becomes a permanent fixture on the bench, rising only to play garbage time.

There’s no other way around this one. If Green doesn’t play now, then his time to perform with the Mavericks might be over. I still think that Green might be a solid NBA player eventually; he’s young after all. But the Mavericks want to be a title contender now and they might not have the time or the patience for Green to figure out what kind of player he is.

Season Goal

There’s a pair of goals I have in mind for Green and one or both would be really outstanding to see. The first would be for Green to shoot more. Last season he shot under four times a game; a nice goal would be six field goal attempts in what will hopefully be 20-25 minutes a game. The second goal, and this one’s a bit harder to achieve as it relies on the coaching staff, is for Green to get more opportunities to run the offense. Green’s an unorthodox passer and I think he sees the game in a unique way, despite how fast he seems to go sometimes. But the chaos he brings is of a different rhythm. If the Mavericks can stomach some mistakes, seeing what Green could do with the ball outside of a catch and shoot could be fun.


Josh Green is a symbol. And depending on where you come from he represents either the failure of process in the former front office or he represents some combination of athleticism and unfocused basketball potential just waiting to break through under the right circumstances.

Regardless of where you fall on Green, the simple fact is the Mavericks need Green to be functional now. He seemed to put in a great deal of work in the off-season and given his paper potential, that has to be exciting for the true believers. For such a young player, he’s no where near the “now or never” point. But for a team looking to build upon a surprisingly successful year, Josh Green becoming something now sure would be helpful.