Never let it be said that coach Rick Carlisle stifles anybody from expanding their horizons.
In fact, he believes it is absolutely essential for NBA players.
So it didn’t bother Carlisle that there were more than a few gasps when 7-footer Willie Cauley-Stein reared up from 3-point range in the fourth quarter of Monday’s 128-112 win over Milwaukee.
But Cauley-Stein, who in his NBA career is 4-of-19 (21.1 percent) from 3-point range, canned both of those shots. This came after missing one in the opening game against Milwaukee.
This bold venture from beyond the arc had its genesis in the summer, when Cauley-Stein opted out of the bubble for the birth of his daughter.
He and Carlisle had a conversation about how Cauley-Stein could improve while not with the team.
“I said: hey, if you’re serious about committing to stretching your range out and spend the time on it, I’m good with it,” Carlisle said. “And he’s spent a lot of time on it. He works on it before practice. He works on it after practice. He hasn’t had a chance to shoot very many in (scrimmages), but in the game, we got one for him in the first game against Milwaukee. He didn’t make it. Then he got two in the second game and he knocked them in.
“It’s a process thing. It’s a system thing. But if he’s wide-open, got good rhythm, it’s a good shot for him.”
Those shots were part of why the Mavericks were able to run away from the Bucks down the stretch.
With Kristaps Porzingis out until at least January, the Mavericks will have to lean more on Cauley-Stein, along with Maxi Kleber as the primary big men behind starting center Dwight Powell.
Having an extra weapon like a 3-point shot for a 7-footer like Cauley-Stein is never a bad thing.
Carlisle has encouraged some unlikely players to work on the 3-ball and some of them have turned into capable long-range flingers, including Al-Farouq Aminu, Jae Crowder and even Boban Marjanović.
Iwundu update: New wing player Wes Iwundu had a steady, gradual progression during his three seasons at Orlando, to the point that he averaged 5.8 points, 2.5 rebounds and 18.3 minutes last year with the Magic.
He did not play in the second game against Milwaukee and had what Carlisle termed a minor medical problem that kept him out of Wednesday’s practice.
“He’s a young, developing wing player, whose shooting continues to improve,” Carlisle said. “So I don’t know exactly what the minutes are going to look like tomorrow (in the final exhibition against Minnesota).
“He had a minor physical thing today and he wasn’t able to go at practice, but I think he’ll be able to go tomorrow. We wouldn’t have signed him if we didn’t like him.”
Final preparation: The Mavericks’ final exhibition will be at 7:30 pm. Thursday against Karl-Anthony Towns, No. 1 overall pick Anthony Edwards and the Minnesota Timberwolves.
“It’s not going to be an exact replica of opening night, but it likely will move a little more in that direction,” Carlisle said when asked if it would be a final dress rehearsal.
“This thing is a meteoric sort of thing having just three exhibition games and truncated training camp. We’re having to do a lot of things with fluidity and on the fly. And substitutions in preseason games are no different.”
As a reminder, no fans are allowed for the preseason game. However, no decision has been made yet on whether some fans will be able to attend the regular-season home opener on Dec. 30.
The regular season begins Dec. 23 at Phoenix.