For Dallas Mavericks rookie Tyler Bey, his recent experience in the NBA G League was the best thing that’s happened so far in his basketball career.
Bey was part of last November’s NBA Draft class that was robbed by the coronavirus of several important steps that are vital to moving up the pro basketball chain. There was no summer league for the rookies, there was a very short training camp, the Mavs only played three preseason games, and the rookies were void of any of the normal one-on-one basic interactions and teachings with the Mavs’ coaching and training staff.
With those drawbacks tugging at him, Bey’s chances of receiving some nominal minutes with the Mavs were limited. Thus, last month when the 6-7, 215-pound forward was assigned to play in the bubble in Orlando for the Salt Lake City Stars of the G League, he viewed it as a gift from heaven.
“The G League was great,” Bey said. “I think it was a good experience. It was just great for me to just go out there and compete and get better at the same time.
“I’m going to say the G League was our summer league. That’s how I looked at it.”
And from the looks of it, Bey was one of the G League’s most compelling players. In 12 games for the Stars, the University of Colorado product averaged 16.2 points and 9.7 rebounds and shot 49.7 percent from the field and 32.5 percent from 3-point range in 28.6 minutes per contest.
“Tyler Bey did a great job in the bubble,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “He was a guy that came in from the outside.
“He wasn’t a part of the (Stars’) base franchise team, but it appeared to me that he endeared himself to his teammates with hard unselfish play. He worked on his long-range shooting and made progress there.”
Bey was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers with the 36th overall pick. From there, his draft rights and guard Josh Richardson were traded to the Mavs on draft night for guard Seth Curry, and he eventually inked a two-way contract with Dallas.
The experience in the G League taught Bey a lot, especially when it comes to being mentally prepared to compete in a game.
“I learned that if I have confidence in myself, then I can do anything I want to,” said Bey, who once scored 68 points in a high school game. “I feel like when I went to the G League, I gained all my confidence back and I saw what I’m capable of doing when it comes to basketball.
“And I think that, mentality-wise, I feel like just playing game after game after game, I have to take care of my body and just be mentally ready every time.”
Playing with the Stars in the bubble alongside his Mavs’ teammate – Josh Green – also helped Bey stay mentally ready to take on all comers. Seeing a friendly face every day, he noted, has its benefits.
“Working with Josh was a great experience just because we learned a lot about each other when it comes to playing basketball,” Bey said. “Off the court we talked a lot more and just hung out with each other. I think we became really close.”
The Mavs like the way Bey always seems to be around – or really close – to the basketball. They realize it’s an innate trait that can’t be taught.
“He’s got a great nose for the ball — he’s aggressive,” Carlisle said. “I thought (playing in the G League) was a great opportunity for all of our young guys.”
Coaches can’t promise rookies any consistent minutes. But Carlisle did say: “They’ve got to stay ready. You never know when your opportunities are going to come.
“We’re a young veteran team, and even though the rotation has been somewhat established, these guys are wearing the uniform and they’ve got to be ready to play.”
Whatever feedback he gets from the Mavs, Bey considers it a plus and will use it as a blueprint to make improvements to his game and make sure he’s ready to play when the opportunity presents itself.
“They just complimented me on playing hard,” Bey said. “Rebounding the ball was one of the biggest things. I think after I had like 17 rebounds one game, my confidence blew up from there and everybody complimented me on just playing hard.
“I appreciate all the “good jobs” and compliments. But I think that was something I was supposed to go out there and do, honestly.”