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3 things from a Summer League Mavericks loss to the Suns, 105-78

The Mavericks lost again, and this time it wasn’t close.

2022 NBA Summer League - Phoenix Suns v Dallas Mavericks Photo by Jeff Bottari/NBAE via Getty Images

The Dallas Mavericks and the Phoenix Suns’ Summer League squads squared off in Sin City Tuesday night, and the Suns succeeded in securing the win, 105-78. The game doesn’t matter in the standings, but if you stayed up late to watch it, you would’ve liked to see something a little more competitive. Instead, the Suns went up big early and the Mavericks never got close.

Summer League isn’t the pinnacle of basketball, but it’s usually entertaining. The Mavericks lost two close games prior to this demolition. It’s an inauspicious Summer League coaching debut for Jared Dudley, who took over for Greg St. Jean in order to get a little more experience on the bench. Well, he got an experience tonight, that’s for sure.

Here are three things from the game:

The offense was bad...again

Summer League teams are never going to look like well-oiled machines. After all, a group of players are thrown together within a couple weeks and get limited practice time. Those players are also playing for their careers. Almost every player on a Summer League roster is trying to get noticed and catch on somewhere, anywhere. It’s not an atmosphere that leads to passing up tough shots and setting a lot of screens to get your teammate a good shot.

So you’re not going to see perfect basketball in Las Vegas. But tonight was something else. Good shots didn’t go down, bad shots didn’t go down, and not one single player was able to get into a rhythm. The Mavericks only shot 33% from the floor and 32% from behind the arc. At one point it became impressive that a group of semi-professional basketball players could actually shoot so poorly.

But Vegas night life is undefeated, it was an exhibition, etc., etc. Things like this happen in basketball games. Hopefully the Summer League Mavericks can get it turned around by the next game.

Greg St. Jean gave an impressive interview during the game

Yes, that’s how bad the game was—one of the three memorable things was an interview with a coach not even participating in the game. St. Jean stepped aside from coaching the Summer League squad so that Jared Dudley and George Galanopoulos could get more experience leading the team.

St. Jean ditched the usual coach speak and had some great basketball discussion, really getting into actual basketball strategy and leadership. I’ve searched for video of it online to link it here, but couldn’t find it. But St. Jean sold the vision Jason Kidd has been building on the last year and added his own wisdom as well.

St. Jean gushed about defense, and Luka Doncic’s part in it. “He got better every single day as he got more comfortable in what we were demanding from him,” St. Jean said. “At the end of the day, a player-run team is always going to be better than a coach-run team when it comes to the accountability and as far as the demands.”

He also discussed Doncic playing behind the defense more. “That’s something we attempted to do a little more this year,” St. Jean said. “We posted him up, coming up off DHO’s (dribble hand-offs) out of the corners. At the end of the day, we do have talent around him. He does trust those guys.”

It’s the kind of stuff that makes you want to run through a wall for a guy, and great insight into the Mavericks’ vision in building this team and its offensive strategy.

Jaden Hardy struggled again

After crushing his Summer League debut, Hardy has struggled in consecutive games. Hardy shot 4-of-15 from the floor, scoring 11 points. He did go 2-of-5 from deep, however. And grabbing six rebounds is encouraging. What’s not great is zero assists, a troubling stat for someone who might be tasked with setting up the offense off the bench if the Mavericks don’t find another ball handler this offseason.

Hardy is aggressive attacking the rim, but seems to have some trouble finishing. Part of it is probably a strength issue that will improve over time with a professional level conditioning program. Hardy was moved off spots pretty easily throughout the game, whether off the dribble or when cutting. If he can get stronger, that will help in the paint and getting to his spots on the floor.