Opportunities are coming more regularly for Olivier-Maxence Prosper. On Monday night, the rookie wing played valuable minutes for the shorthanded Dallas Mavericks in the team’s 120-113 win over the Memphis Grizzlies.
While some of Prosper’s increased playing time can be attributed to a slew of injuries befalling the team, he’s proven capable of playing within himself and handling the workload. He showed that same capable poise again on Monday.
“It’s all about being ready and next-man-up mentality. We got a couple of guys down, and I knew I was going to get more opportunities today,” Prosper said in his postgame press conference.
“It’s about stepping in, doing the little things, and how can I complement the guys already on the floor and how can I do little winning plays,” he continued. “I feel like I came into the game with great energy, being in the right place at the right time, being confident enough to knock down shots, and help my teammates defensively and all that stuff.”
Prosper finished the game with a career-high 11 points on 4-7 shooting, including 3-6 from deep. His three-made three-pointers are also a career-high. He also had four rebounds, two assists, and a block in 18 and a half minutes of action.
He subbed in for Derrick Jones Jr. with 5:34 to play in the first quarter. Jones sustained a left quad contusion and did not return to the game, adding to the Mavericks’ injury woes. The team was also without Kyrie Irving, Tim Hardaway Jr., Grant Williams, Josh Green, and Maxi Kleber.
“I think just his patience, his work ethic we’ve talked about,” Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd said during his postgame press conference. “He continues to keep working hard. There are quite a few guys in front of him, but I thought again, with the injuries that we’ve had and then losing Jones, Derrick, it definitely gave him the opportunity to play tonight.”
His biggest shot of the night came in the fourth quarter as the Grizzlies were making a run. After a David Roddy layup brought Memphis within 10 points, Luka Doncic found Prosper on the wing with a cross-court pass on the next possession. Prosper calmly caught the ball, shot it in rhythm, and made the nylon sing as he gave the Mavericks a 13-point lead.
“It’s not somewhere I haven’t been before,” Prosper said. “Yes, in the NBA it’s new to me, but my teammates have been great, telling me to keep shooting it and let it fly every time. I stepped into it with confidence and knocked it down. If they help off me and leave me open, I got to have the confidence to knock it down, and that’s what I did.”
He’s more sure of himself on the floor with the more playing time he sees. In Dallas’ last five games, Prosper is averaging 4.2 points on 40 percent shooting and 36.4 percent from deep, 2.2 rebounds, and 1.4 assists in 13.9 minutes.
Prosper isn’t taking his playing time for granted, and he’s using his time off the court to better himself physically and mentally for his next opportunity. He knows that he still has room to grow and much to learn so that he’s ready to play when his number gets called more regularly.
“The way I see it is this: it’s a marathon, not a sprint,” Prosper said. “I know my time is going to come, and if I keep the same attitude and if I keep putting in really good days in practice and I keep learning, watching, scouting, watching film — all those little different things, then when I get on the floor, I’m going to be ready. Will I be perfect? No. But I know that I’ve put in the steps so that when I get out there, I know what I’m doing out there.”