There isn’t much right with the Mavericks right now, with injuries and inconsistent play dropping the team to below .500 for the first time since Dec. 19. If there is at least one bright spot, however, in the Mavericks last two games, it might be that Josh Green has found his game again.
Green’s third season has been a major improvement, finally cracking the rotation on a consistent basis and becoming a productive part of the roster. That rise culminated in a blistering start to the month of February, where Green averaged 18.3 points per game on 60 percent shooting in the first six games of the month. With Dorian Finney-Smith being traded for Kyrie Irving during this stretch, Green’s play showed enormous promise that perhaps the Mavericks wouldn’t fall off too much from their thin wing depth, with Green taking Finney-Smith’s spot and increasing the production.
Unfortunately Green fell into a cold spell immediately after. From Feb. 13 through March 8, Green only scored in double figures once, while his defense started to fall off. Despite being in his third year, it felt like Green had hit some sort of rookie wall, perhaps spurred by the big increase in minutes he saw after Finney-Smith was traded. Green went from a backup to a starter, averaging just over 35 minutes per game in those first six games of February.
Thankfully these last two games, that early February Green might be back. Green has posted back-to-back games with 20 or more points, the first time he’s done that in his young career. The Mavericks have unfortunately lost both games, but if Green can keep up this level of production with Kyrie Irving and Luka Doncic return from injury, then the Mavericks might still have a chance to save their season.
Perhaps what’s most impressive with how Green scored in the last two games is his evolution in the mid-range. It wasn’t that long ago that the biggest concern with Green was that he wouldn’t even shoot open three pointers. Now he’s taking defenders off the dribble and scoring tough in-between buckets.
In these past two games, Green is a perfect 4-of-4 from mid-range, according to NBA.com tracking data. That increases his mid-range shooting for the season too....7-of-12. So yes, it’s a blindingly small sample size, but it’s still neat to see. Green is also scoring well in the paint, outside the restricted area, where he’s shooting 49 percent (on 45 attempts) for the season. Green has really perfected the little floating bank shot off an angle going toward the rim, which is something that feels crazy to say, considering Green’s biggest weakness coming out of college was his ability to finish in the paint and around the basket. Now every Green attempt at the rim feels automatic.
It’s only two games, so best not to get carried away, but it was still a nice to see. Green is an important cog for this Mavericks team, both in pushing this team to finish well this season and beyond. The next step will be to see if his productivity, while obviously not being as sky-high as the las two games, can remain somewhat level when Irving and Doncic return. Obviously Green’s touches and shots will go down, but if he can keep the efficiency up and provide an outlet for the Mavericks two stars, that will go a long way.