Unless you are a high lottery pick, NBA rookies typically have a gestation period that can last anywhere from a few months to a few years.
Some never reach maturity.
Josh Green’s trip from NBA infancy to having been around the block a time or two is happening at warp speed.
If you’d told Green that he would start in three of his first 14 games in the NBA and be converting backdoor cuts on passes from Kristaps Porzingis less than a month into the season, he probably wouldn’t have believed it.
And all of that has occurred less than a year since he was a freshman at the University of Arizona.
“As a rookie, you don’t know what to really expect,” Green said Thursday in advance of Friday’s visit to San Antonio (7:30 p.m., FSSW). “You come in with the attitude of just trying to do whatever you can. So for me, was I expecting it to be (like this) 12 games into the season? I had no idea.”
And, while the Mavericks liked the 6-6 Australian enough to make him the 18th overall pick of the November draft, they probably didn’t expect him to be starting games for them in the first month of the season.
Thanks a lot, COVID-19.
“He got a few starts, he’s a terrific competitor,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “He has a very good skill level. The thing I love is he’s going to give you tireless, boundless energy, no matter what. If there’s a loose ball, he’s either going to have it or be right in there to get his hands on it.”
And considering the complete lack of time for rookies to get acclimated this season, Green’s contributions have been commendable.
“The whole thing for these guys has been an amazing fast-track,” Carlisle said. “They got drafted less than two months ago. Now he’s starting in an NBA game. Tyrell Terry (drafted 31st) has been tossed into some games, probably unexpectedly in his mind.
“But we believe in these guys. And the only way you can find out what they’re capable of is to give them a shot to play. But this has been an incomparable set of circumstances for rookies this year.”
Green was drafted because he’s not afraid to get his nose dirty on defense. Against Indiana on Wednesday, he had eight points, six rebounds and three assists in 23 minutes, working well with the starting unit.
It’s the sort of foundation that helps build a career. A lot of rookies – six of them drafted ahead of Green – have played fewer minutes than him so far.
“For me, it’s not so much stuff that shows up in the stat sheet,” Green said. “And I feel like that’s kind of the way I play. Offense will come. But for now, people don’t really like the dirty work and it might not be the most appealing thing to watch. But I feel like that’s what I can bring. And all the offense will come.”
Until Josh Richardson, Dorian Finney-Smith, Maxi Kleber and Dwight Powell get back from the safety protocols that have sidelined them since Jan. 9, Green figures to continue to get a rapid education as the games come fast and furious.
“He’s a guy who’s going to get better and better as he plays more,” Carlisle said. “Doesn’t mean he’s going to start every game, but this is an opportunity for him to play major minutes. It’s great to see him do a good job. The more reinforcement and opportunity to play you get as a young player, it breeds a lot of confidence and belief in what you’re doing.”
Briefly: Carlisle said it was uncertain whether Kristaps Porzingis would be available for both ends of the back-to-back that begins Friday in San Antonio. The Mavericks then play Houston in Dallas on Saturday. Porzingis played both ends of the two-game set earlier this week against Chicago and Toronto . . . Carlisle on the Western Conference and the importance of winning Southwest Division games: “These are two tough divisional games. And very important ones. The West is going to be challenging all year long. You can see how congested it is in spots four through 10. It’s just real crowded.” . . . As for divisional games, he said: “There is meaning to having the best record in your division and having a good division record because it’s criteria for tiebreakers and stuff like that. When you look at the standings in the West and how tight it is from top to bottom, tiebreakers are going to be extremely important come playoff time and when teams are getting ready for the play-in games and all that stuff.