The development of Josh Green on the Mavericks has been an interesting up-and-down rollercoaster. After returning from an elbow sprain that kept him sidelined for twelve games, Green has made a significant impact for Dallas during a time when the team has been decimated by unfortunate injuries. His shots have been falling at high efficiency, and he has shown more determination on the defensive end than what we are used to seeing from him. His play on both ends of the floor has been refreshing and Green has made the case to remain the starting small forward forward for the Mavericks when they get their guys back.
Drafted in 2020, Green missed a lot of the experiences that a rookie typically gains as they come into the league. After spending just one season at Arizona, Green was selected 18th by the Mavericks. The coronavirus pandemic led to the cancelation of the NCAA tournament that Green and the Wildcats had qualified for. To add to this, the NBA Draft Combine event was canceled as well due to the circumstances regarding the pandemic. To say that Green has had a unique journey to this point would be an understatement.
During his time in the league, his development has been rather laggard. It’s felt as if up until this season, his play has been chaotic and unmoving. Green struggled to see the floor in the early days of his career due to a lack of trust from the coaching staffs. He was unplayable during the 2021 and 2022 playoff runs for the Mavericks. In the ‘22 Western Conference Finals run, it felt like he had no confidence in any aspect of his game on both ends of the floor, leaving Coach Jason Kidd no other choice than to bench him.
After the Kyrie Irving trade, Green oftentimes looked non-existent in lineups next to Luka Doncic and Irving. Recently, Green has played with a sense of maturity and belonging that will earn him a significant role for the Mavericks in the playoffs.
Since January 1st, Green is averaging 11.5 points and 4 rebounds per game on 52/44/68 shooting splits. His efficiency has been crucial to the Mavericks, who were missing Kyrie Irving and Dante Exum for a lot of this stretch. On top of the scoring he has provided for Dallas since the New Year, his energy on the defensive end has been refreshing to watch. Green still struggles with screen navigation, but it has been fun to see him pick up his matchup full-court and be able to stay on his man. The explosiveness and athleticism he plays with make him critical to the Mavericks. When Green is running in transition, you have to keep your eye on him to make sure you don’t miss anything. During Thursday night’s game in New York, Green had an emphatic dunk in the first quarter that encapsulates his gameplay.
Green finished with 15 points and six rebounds as the Mavericks ultimately defeated the Knicks. Green’s performance validated why the Mavericks kept him through the deadline when it was previously reported that the Charlotte Hornets were interested in Green in exchange for PJ Washington. The Mavericks being able to keep Green through the deadline shows that they have been impressed with his recent play, too. Not only does it validate keeping him through the trade deadline, but it also proves that the Mavericks made the right decision in resigning him for the future at a team-friendly 3 yr/$41 million deal. The consistency and energy he’s shown the past month would be difficult to replace.
Newly acquired Washington and Gafford will hopefully join the team for Saturday’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. At the time of writing this, the status of Dante Exum and Dereck Lively for the matchup is currently unknown. With this being said, Josh Green has earned an opportunity to remain the starter when the Mavericks get these guys back. This would leave the Mavericks with a starting group of Doncic-Irving-Green-Washington-Lively. Surrounding Doncic and Irving with defenders has always been the goal. Giving the duo an athletic frontcourt with defensive capabilities would be the optimal move for the Mavericks as the season progresses. Green’s ability to attack closeouts and get to the rim has been a dime-a-dozen for the Mavericks who haven’t had many role players like that.
Green would fit in nicely with this group as his shots have been falling at an efficient rate and has oftentimes been one of the only Mavericks playing defense. He provides a refreshing touch to this team and has made the case to be the Mavericks’ starting small forward in a healthy lineup. I’m eagerly anticipating seeing this team at full strength and watching how Green’s role with the team pans out during this time. I, for one, am glad that we can continue to see Green in a Mavericks uniform and hope to see him continue playing at this level no matter where he falls in the rotation.