DALLAS - With Josh Richardson struggling to get the job done for the Dallas Mavericks, it was time to turn to other options. Josh Green, the team's first-round selection in the 2020 NBA Draft, received extended run in the team's 127-113 win over the Miami Heat and thrived.
A player who finishes with 4 points is rarely going to get a lot of attention for the impact they made on a game, let alone a rookie. The opposite was the case with Josh Green.
Green came off the bench and provided great hustle on both ends and never favored playing selfish basketball over making the play. All the while showcasing flashes of intriguing potential, the Mavericks outscored the Heat by an 18-point margin with him on the court.
Josh Richardson did not receive a single minute of playing time during the second quarter while Green was on the floor for its entirety. It wasn't until the fourth quarter that Richardson received extended run once again. Overall, Green logged just under 24 minutes of action against a playoff contender.
“It’s rare you see a rookie perimeter player come in and score four points and make this kind of impact on a game,” Mavericks head coach Carlisle said. “But it just goes to show how important hard play is in an NBA season. Even when like everything’s on the line right now, hard play is the biggest thing.”
There were a variety of momentum swinging plays that Green provided the Mavericks during his time on the floor. His ability to diagnose plays a step-or-two in advance helped him to anticipate opportunities to record 3 steals.
The first of those steals had a build up to it that highlighted some of Green's helpful attributes on both offense and defense. He managed to salvage a highly disadvantageous situation along the baseline when he caught an inaccurate pass and managed to get it to a wide-open JJ Redick in the weak-side corner.
While Redick ended up missing his catch-and-shoot jumper on this play, Green took it as an opportunity to attack on his way up the floor. He quickly focused on the ball handler and identified that Trevor Ariza was going to try to make a casual pass to the point guard, so he jumped the pass.
On a later play, Green displayed an impressive ability to cut off a quick guard's attempt to get to the rim when he was guarding Kendrick Nunn on an island. This showcased his lateral quickness and ability to make a play on the ball without committing a foul.
There were a few defensive possessions when Green made it quite challenging for shooters out on the perimeter. On the initial play in the examples below, Max Strus was prompted into taking a deep contested shot instead of even attempting to attack off-the-dribble.
On the second play, there was a split-second Green anticipated Nunn receiving the ball like a traditional handoff but quickly recovered to pressure the shot attempt. Being able to quickly adjust in situations like this goes a long way in handling tough assignments.
Green showcased his ability to make reads when serving as the low-man in off-ball defense. The Mavericks sent two defenders to the ball to prevent Duncan Robinson from getting off the quick three-pointer out of the DHO. The following steps of the play were quite intriguing.
Green made a tremendous read by recognizing that Luka Doncic decided to leave his man and stay committed to helping on Bam Adebayo upon making the catch in the paint. Adebayo felt he had a window to dish it to his teammate who relocated to the dunker's spot, but Green jumped the pass perfectly for the steal.
Not only did Green manage to break up one of the Heat's possessions and come up with the steal, he did maintained possession of the ball and made an impressive play in transition. Tim Hardaway Jr. was scorching hot from deep and Green made it a point to get him the ball.
Making contributions on defense has been a focus for Green when he's given minutes. Even if he ends up going scoreless, he knows he needs to make his mark on that end of the floor.
“It’s a … hard year, so for me, it’s just doing whatever I can do for the team to win,” Green said. “If that means scoring zero points but being on the defensive end, I’m all for it.”
There's still plenty of improvement for Green to achieve offensively. In fact, he's producing just 0.792 points per possession (PPP) on scoring plays this season. Particularly, it's vital that Green continues to improve as a jump shooter before he becomes a complete long-term threat alongside Luka Doncic.
The sample size is small, but Green has gone 6-of-21 (28.6%) on spot-up attempts this season. There's reason for intrigue, though. However, he's showing he can still make an impact when playing out of the corner despite that fact.
Even with the recovering defender and a help defender on the strong-side block, Green managed to get a bucket at the rim. He elevated above Duncan Robinson and finish through contact. This is not an easy play to complete, to say the least.
There was another play Green made after making the catch in the weak-side corner. Dwight Powell occupied the block after being one of the screeners in a double-drag play. This left Dewayne Dedmon in a position to rotate over and protect the rim if the weak-side spacer were to drive off-the-catch.
Green made a great read by identifying that Duncan Robinson chose to sink to prevent the dump-off pass to Powell - leaving the scorching hot Tim Hardaway Jr. in the opposite corner.
“He got me going when he drove and kicked it to me in the corner on a skip pass and I saw one go in,” Tim Hardaway Jr. said. “He just does all the little things, and that’s what our team needs.”
The unselfish play was made by Green even when he wasn't put into a tough situation on a drive. Take the play below for example, He identified the Heat trapping Doncic before making the catch and made it a point to quickly dish it to the open man for the wide open jump shot from above-the-break.
What the Mavericks received from Green is rare from a 20-year-old rookie. It's all the more impressive when factoring in the lack of a traditional training camp and the added mental toll required to adjust to a new country all during unusual circumstances.
If Green can continue to make positive contributions when his number is called, the Mavericks will have a tough decision to make when it comes to time to formulate their playoff rotation. He will be a key element of what the team does in the long-term, if he keeps it up.
The Dallas Mavericks return to action on Thursday when they take on the Brooklyn Nets at the American Airlines Center. We're about to see what "fluid'' means to Rick Carlisle's Mavs.