The Mavericks final Summer League game of 2022 happened on Saturday night, and if you’re a frequent purveyor of Mavs Moneyball, you’ll have certainly noticed that we didn’t cover that 95-84 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Take it as a broader indictment on how the staff has felt about this Summer League season as a whole — we just couldn’t muster the effort. Kirk took a weekend away, I tried to unplug from the internet a little after recovering from an illness, and, to be honest, the rest of our staff which is mostly unpaid or underpaid just didn’t want to dedicate another weekend night to bad basketball.
Because unfortunately, that’s what Mavericks Summer League was this year — bad basketball. To be fair, most of Summer League is always bad basketball, but it was particularly brutal to watch the Mavericks this month. Dallas lost all five of their games and the final three were all by double digits, with two being laugher-blowouts, until the Mavericks managed to mangle together one run in the fourth quarter Saturday against the Lakers. But before that, it was another beatdown.
Not only was it bad basketball, but there was little to be excited about. The Mavericks reentering the 2022 NBA Draft and selecting Jaden Hardy got everyone excited about Dallas taking a swing on a talented prospect — he was the former No. 2 ranked player in his high school class and was slated as a top-10 pick before a disappointing season with the G-League Ignite. Unfortunately, Hardy played poorly in Summer League, averaging 15 points per game on 34.7 shooting from the floor and 26.9 shooting from three after a spectacular debut.
Summer League doesn’t really matter here (Jalen Brunson had a horrific time in his lone Summer League season), but in terms of entertainment value, if Hardy wasn’t producing, it was hard to not turn off the TV or go do something else. It was also a rough learning experience for the Mavericks coaches, as Jared Dudley had his first experience as a “head coach” by coaching the Mavericks Summer League team. It wasn’t hard to notice how disjointed the Mavericks looked and not think about the coaching staff, but just like for the players, Summer League isn’t about the results, but about the experience. Dudley getting to run the Summer League roster is good for his coaching career long term, even if the immediate results were difficult to watch.
There were a handful of bright spots on the floor — A.J. Lawson has unanimously become the fanbases’ pick for a two-way contract after some solid play and Moses Wright looked like a mini-Shaq at times. Jerrick Harding had some good moments as well. However in terms of good moments from any prospect that could have a long term future in Dallas? It was bleak, especially since young forward Josh Green did not play in Summer League. Watching the Mavericks roster flounder around, it was easy to wonder why they did not play Green, who is still extremely raw. At the end of the day, I’d imagine the Mavericks figured the risk of Green showing poorly was not worth any development he could make.
If you’re a Mavericks fan, it can be tough realizing there is no more basketball until the preseason starts later this year. But that can be a good thing — if you’re hardcore enough to watch Summer League, that means you likely watched just about every regular season and playoff game. So consider this an official break from basketball. Catch up on some TV shows, go to the movies, play some video games, go on a date with your partner, or meet up with some friends. We’ll still have plenty of content and podcasts here at Mavs Moneyball in the meantime, but Mavericks basketball will be waiting for you later this Fall.