Mike Weinar is hoping the same blueprint the Dallas Mavericks used to win the Orlando Pro Summer League championship two years ago will be on full display again when they start playing in the MGM Resorts NBA Summer League in Las Vegas later this week.
The championship victory in Orlando in 2017 was the first and only time the Mavs have ever taken home a title during summer league play. Johnathan Motley’s crucial jumper with 0.3 seconds remaining gave the Mavs the title in the championship game over Detroit in dramatic fashion, 83-81.
And the coach of that Mavs’ team was Weinar, who will also coach the Mavs’ squad in Las Vegas over the next two weeks.
Of that championship squad from two years ago, Weinar said: “We hard-played our way to the championship in Orlando.”
Weinar has his own philosophy on how to gain some measure of success in the summer league.
“I go back to the first thing I said: how fast can you come together as a group of guys that don’t know each other very well for the most part, and how hard can you play,” he said. “That’s really what it boils down to in the summer league.
“Can you play together, can you play hard? And usually when you do those things good things happen in the summer league.”
The Mavs will have summer league practices on Tuesday and Wednesday at the Lympo practice facilities, then they’ll fly to Las Vegas on Thursday and play their first summer league game on Friday at 6 p.m. at Cox Pavilion against the Brooklyn Nets. That will be the first time Mavs fans get to see their new rookie, Isaiah Roby, who was the 45th overall pick out of Nebraska in last month’s NBA Draft.
A 6-8, 230-pounder, Roby has the skill set to play either small forward or power forward.
“We’re excited to have him play extensively during the summer league and see what happens,” Weinar said. “I know we’re excited about what he can bring in terms of energy and versatility.
“And honestly, we’re excited to see what happens with him during summer league and going forward. I think he’s got a bright future.”
Weinar said the Mavs are also excited about their pair of two-way players – forward Kostas Antetokounmpo and guard Daryl Macon. In 40 games last season for the Texas Legends – the Mavs’ NBA G League affiliate – Antetokounmpo averaged 10.6 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in just 25.4 minutes while shooting 52 percent from the field.
“I know he’s worked very hard with our G League team there in Frisco and has been around during the summer here a lot in Dallas and have been working hard with the group of players that have been in Dallas,” Weinar said of Antetokounmpo. “And we’re excited to see him out on the floor and see what happens.”
There’s a highlight reel of Antetokounmpo’s stint with the Legends making the rounds on social media. And it is so impressive that it’s reminding some of his brother, Giannis, the Milwaukee Bucks’ perennial All-Star forward who was named the Most Valuable Player of the NBA last week.
“I would say that they’re brothers, but they’re different players,” Weinar said. “I don’t think you can compare just because they’re related.
“They’re different guys, they’re different players, and I’ve got to see where Kostas keeps working and see where the top end is for him. I’m happy for his brother and the success he’s had, but they’re both individuals and you’ve got to look at them independently.”
Meanwhile, in 41 games for the Legends last season, Macon averaged 19 points and 6.2 assists and shot 42.3 percent from the field in 34.5 minutes per contest.
“I would say (Macon is) similar to Kostas in that he’s worked really hard with our G League team and has been around a good amount this summer in Dallas to work out,” Weinar said. “Obviously with (Macon) a guard and (Antetokounmpo) more of a big, them playing together, it’s been good to see them continue to build that bond.”
Weinar is also hoping that Cameron Payne will be able to build a quick bond with his newfound Mavs teammates. A 6-3 point guard, Payne averaged six points and 2.5 assists while playing 153 games during a four-year NBA career with Oklahoma City, Chicago and Cleveland, but his career hasn’t yet blossomed to where he wants it to blossom.
“He obviously probably has the most experience of any of these guys in the NBA,” Weinar said. “But for whatever reason he hasn’t stuck here lately.
“Obviously he’s looking for an opportunity, and hopefully he’ll put a good summer together in Vegas and who knows what happens after that.”
As far as what’ll happen with the Mavs overall in Las Vegas, Weinar said: “You can expect a cohesive group that’s going to play hard.”
And follow the blueprint that led to the Mavs’ success in Orlando two years ago.