When Mavs proprietor Mark Cuban said he wanted to bring as many rookies as possible to training camp this fall, he wasn’t joking. First the Mavericks signed Dorian Finney-Smith and A.J. Hammons, then they added Jonathan Gibson after an impressive showing in Las Vegas, and now they’ve signed Argentinian wing Nicolas Brussino. And although he doesn’t qualify as a rookie, Dallas also inked Seth Curry, who has just one full season of NBA experience under his belt.

All were undrafted, with the exception of Hammons, who was taken No. 46 overall. That means they’re all hungry and willing to do whatever it takes to achieve their dream. A couple of them have taken some strange routes to the NBA, too. By now you’re familiar with Gibson’s story; the guard played in Turkey, Israel, Italy, and China before finally landing in Dallas at age 28.

Brussino, meanwhile, has spent his entire professional career in Argentina. He played three seasons for Regatas Corrientes before entering the 2015 NBA Draft. He went undrafted and returned to the Argentinian LNB and played for Penarol. Instead of getting down on himself, he channeled the fire as motivation, earned an expanded role, and showed the world what he’s capable of doing. Now he’s a Maverick.

Before last season, he’d never averaged more than 9.5 points per game. In 2015-16, he averaged 14.6. He also recorded career-high marks of 3.1 assists, 5.5 rebounds, 1.5 steals, 28.1 minutes per game, and a 19.7 PER.

The 23-year-old took a huge step forward for Penarol, but most importantly he did so without his efficiency dropping off. His usage rate climbed to a career-high 23.6 percent last season, but his sparkling 57.4 effective field goal percentage and 60.4 true shooting percentage were both above his career averages. So not only did his production increase, but so did his efficiency. That’s the sign of a player who’s beginning to figure it out. It’s nearly impossible to project this, but I would guess if Brussino entered the draft in 2016 as opposed to 2015, he would almost certainly have been selected.

All that’s in the past, though, and now what’s ahead of him is a chance at the NBA with a team who believed in him enough to offer him a contract. In between now and then, Brussino will compete for Argentina at the Summer Olympics in Rio, so that will be Mavs fans’ first real chance at seeing him on a big stage. As is the case with many international players, many will wonder how his game will translate across to this level, and perhaps even what exactly is his game. Well, ask no more, because we took a look at what he can do.

Pick-and-roll scoring

Brussino is a playmaking wing, and more than 25 percent of his 784 possessions used last season came as the ball-handler in the pick-and-roll, per Synergy Sports. He was the focal point of Penarol’s offense, leading the team both in scoring and assists, which we’ll get to later.

As far as individual offense in the pick-and-roll goes, the wing was right in line with the league average last season, scoring 0.769 points per possession in 199 chances. Those numbers took a significant leap forward, however, when he was running high pick-and-roll in the middle of the floor, where he scored 1.018 points per possession in 111 chances.

When the play develops 30 feet from the basket and right in the middle of the floor, the opposing defense has to make a choice, the big man in particular. Against a player like Brussino, who’s long enough to finish in traffic and quick enough to go around the big, the center oftentimes would either go under the screen or at least back well off, leaving him space to pull up from deep.

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One alternative to giving him a free look at a 3 is for the opposing guard to get up into him — the 6-foot-8 Brussino mostly played shooting guard for Penarol, which helped him immensely in the post — and pressure the ball enough to push him backward and delay the action. But he’s got the handles to combat that, too.

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Sometimes, even if the center dropped below the screen, Brussino would hesitate to read the defense and attack anyway. This play in particular is impressive because he scored with his weaker left hand. Notice how smoothly he glides to the bucket.

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There’s a certain smoothness, fearlessness, and creativity to his game that makes watching him pretty fun. He’ll try some flashy stuff sometimes, but not at the risk of ruining a possession. He just gets into a type of flow that makes him really entertaining to watch.


Brussino averaged a career-high 3.1 assists per game this season for Penarol, and that number climbed to 4.0 in his 40 starts. He also had a career-high 20.2 assist percentage, meaning he recorded an assist on more than one-fifth of his opponents’ made shots while he was on the floor.

Here’s more of that patience in the pick-and-roll. After coming off the screen, Brussino takes two dribbles to watch the play unfold before darting a pass to the weakside corner.

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At the NBA level, you might not have time for two hesitation dribbles. However, Brussino is still only 23 years old and has plenty of developing left to do. There’s no real reason to think he either can’t develop quicker anticipation skills or that he doesn’t possess them already. He’s just taking what the defense gives him, and in a less athletic Argentinian league, he has much more time to process what’s going on. Think of it like a college quarterback transitioning to the NFL.

His 6-foot-8 frame gives him the ability to see over smaller defenders, as well, even if he’s trapped in a tight spot in the corner.

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This is a hugely positive play not only because he made a nice pass to a spot-up shooter, but also because he kept his head up the entire time he was dribbling the ball. Even as he was running out of real estate, he never appeared to panic, and he never seemed out of control. He looks like he has a very good feel for the game and is comfortable playing at his own speed. He might have to kick it up a couple notches in the NBA, but that’s what training camp and preseason will be for — not to mention in international play, when he’ll square off against Harrison Barnes and Team USA this Friday night in an exhibition match.

Generally, his passing out of the pick-and-roll was effective. His teammates shot 49.4 percent from the field in 180 opportunities after receiving a pass, per Synergy, and the 1.163 points per possession spot-up shooters scored after his dishes ranked fourth out of 46 players who made at least 50 such passes. That means that he was surrounded by good shooters, sure, but also that he usually found the right ones. And every single shot which followed his 80 passes to spot-up shooters was a three-pointer. That extreme level of spacing will translate directly over to the Mavericks, a team which attempted the fifth-most 3s in the league last season.

Three-point shooting

Brussino himself can light it up from deep, as well. He shot 39.4 percent from beyond the arc last season, and more than 72 percent of his jumpers were 3s. By comparison, only about 62 percent of James Harden and Klay Thompson’s Js last season were long-balls, while about 82 percent of Stephen Curry’s were, according to Synergy. That means Brussino is a very modern player with good shot selection, as he doesn’t spend too much time taking long 2s, considered the least-efficient shot in basketball — at least for players who aren’t as good at making them as, say, Dirk Nowitzki.

Of the 79 players in the Argentinian LNB who recorded at least 100 spot-up possessions, only one player had a higher points per possession average than Brussino’s 1.336, and only one had a lower turnover rate than Brussino’s 1.5. He was a special shooter in that league, and he was able to attack off the bounce as a spot-up guy without giving the ball practically at all.

Where exactly Brussino fits into the Mavs’ plan remains to be seen. It never hurts to have as many three-point shooters and playmaking wings as possible, and he certainly qualifies as both. At 6-foot-8, he’ll likely play small forward for Dallas in the preseason, as 2-guards in this league would likely have an athletic advantage over him were he to play that spot. Listed at 195 pounds, you wonder if he could potentially even play in a small-ball 4 role, although he’d have to prove to the coaching staff that he could rebound at that position and defend closer to the basket. He’s comfortable at the 3, however, so I assume that’s where he’ll see almost all of his minutes.

No matter where he’ll be playing, though, at least Brussino will be here. After enduring the disappointment of not hearing his named called on draft night last summer, the 23-year-old Argentinian took a huge leap forward this past season and now has a chance to redeem himself and perhaps make other teams regret overlooking him to begin with. It’s the same story for the Mavs’ starting 2-guard Wesley Matthews, who to this day still wears an “Undrafted” shirt with his number on it. It’s also the same story for Seth Curry, Dorian Finney-Smith, and Jonathan Gibson; and for the undrafted J.J. Barea; and for A.J. Hammons, a first-round talent who fell to the second; and even for Harrison Barnes, who was relegated to a fourth or fifth option with the Warriors last season but feels he’s ready to make the leap to a lead role. The list goes on. Do you notice a theme developing here?

The Mavericks have loaded this roster with players who have been overlooked or questioned in the past. Brussino is the latest addition. This team is going to play with a swagger and with a massive chip on its shoulder, and it should be exciting to watch.

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