The Dallas Mavericks defeated the Golden State Warriors 98-96 in their third NBA Summer League Game. The Mavericks dominated for large portions of the contest but let the lead slip away late. The Mavericks played a very fun brand of basketball.
This summer league version of the Mavericks boasts a combination of length and athleticism that no Mavericks team in recent memory has possessed. The Mavericks used that combination to prevent the Warriors from getting into any rhythm. The Mavericks had a huge put back dunk and ridiculous blocks off the backboard. It was just a fun athletic display.
Here are the biggest observations from this game:
Olivier-Maxence Prosper is a breath of fresh air
Prosper is as advertised on the defensive end. He uses his length and exceptional athleticism to prevent anyone from getting off good shots. He does that without generating huge block or steal numbers. He only had one steal and no blocks today, but do not let that fool you. He was absolutely impactful defensively.
The other end of the court has shown just how much potential he has. Prosper was advertised as a “three-and-d” wing whose shot would determine how much upside he had possessed. He has shown so much more than that though. He generated 10 free throw attempts. He beat multiple people off the dribble repeatedly and was able to just generally show a much more extensive “bag” than he has been given credit for.
The Mavericks are always going to run the vast majority of their offense through Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving, but the more ability that ancillary players have, the better. Prosper is going to play a good deal this season, and he is going to earn every single one of those minutes.
Dereck Lively is a defensive weapon
Lively is basically as advertised. His offense is incredibly raw, but it is noticeable how he effects a game defensively. The Warriors were not able to get anything going at the rim while Lively was in the game. Lively has incredible physical gifts that help with his defense. He is huge, incredibly long, and possessed of very agile feet.
The most important aspect of Lively’s defense is his mind and mouth. The Mavericks have not had a true defensive quarterback since Tyson Chandler. Lively has been that player for every team he has ever played on. It is rare for centers to make a huge difference defensively as rookies. It is even more rare for teenage centers to do so. That being said, Lively is ready to defend right now. He may not ever be a star, but he is going to be a useful NBA player for a long time.
Fun basketball is awesome
Hope is fun. Doncic never played in the summer league and Jalen Brunson wasn’t himself yet when he played. Because of that, the Mavericks haven’t had prospects to dream on in the summer league for a really long time. They do now! Lively and Prosper are big parts of the fun, but Taze Moore should have earned himself at least a camp invite somewhere with his play. He is athletic, can shoot and would seem to fit into the undersized athletic power forward that is becoming popular throughout the league.
Overall, this was a really fun game, with Jaden Hardy’s inefficiency being the only downside. The Mavericks even benefitted from the unconventional Elam ending, when they hit the target score with a follow-up dunk that finished the game. The Mavericks are finally winning summer league games and while the summer league results don’t matter, the reason they are winning those games does. The Mavericks have young players to dream on, and that is a fun change.