During the Mavericks’ three-game winning streak they take into Friday’s key match against Milwaukee, we’ve seen the highs and lows that come with a young player like Josh Green crossing the threshold from one NBA level to another.
He’s making leaps. But he’s also taking some hits along the way.
And that’s the way it usually is for most athletes who are learning their craft.
Green had a terrific night on Monday when he rattled off 16 points, five assists, four rebounds and two steals in 31 minutes. He helped spring the Mavericks to an insurmountable lead with 14 first-half points.
“Josh is flourishing right now,” said Tim Hardaway Jr., who has flourished pretty well himself lately. “He’s doing an amazing job of taking accountability on himself to go into the last summer and take his game to a whole other level.
“He’s giving us energy. He will make some mistakes here and there, but it’s alongside aggression. And that’s what we love about him. He’s going to bring it every single day. Kudos to him. He’s put in the work and he’s very deserving of this opportunity. He’s taking advantage of it.”
Teammates know when a player has had difference-making workouts during the offseason. And Green spent most of the summer in Las Vegas working on his body and his game.
Even Green has to do a bit of a double-take when he thinks of how things have changed for him since COVID-19 made his rookie season a challenge and he also had troubles getting consistent playing time last year.
“I was down in Frisco a year ago,” Green said, smiling that that’s just a distant memory now. “So being here is awesome.
“Even the first game of (this) season, I think I played 12 minutes (at Phoenix). It’s cool to be able to see growth from that game. And last year, being benched from that playoff, it motivated me for sure.”
It motivated Green to change his diet and “skip things that usually would be super-fun to do. It was sacrifices I wanted to make because I wanted to make a big leap this year.”
He chatted as much as he could with coach Jason Kidd and has learned plenty from Luka Dončić, too.
“He’s taken a huge leap being a leader this year, not only for me, but all the young guys, Jaden (Hardy) and all of them,” Green said of Luka. “He’s being a great leader for the team.”
Green has averaged 7.0 points and shot 44.4 percent from three-point range this season. Those numbers are up markedly over his first two seasons, as are the 20 minutes per game he’s playing.
But in the game after his Phoenix show-stopper, Green had only two points and two rebounds in 17 minutes when he was mired in foul trouble at Denver on Tuesday.
It was a reminder that big successes can be followed by low moments when you are a young player.
But Kidd has watched closely at the progress Green has made. After the Phoenix game, the coach could not have been more encouraged about Green’s future.
He said he’s so excited about Green’s potential that he will be this year’s Jalen Brunson. Kidd made it a point to make sure Brunson had ample opportunity to get big money in free agency, which he did in the form of $104 million from the New York Knicks.
“He’s just a kid,” Kidd said of Green. “The future’s bright. He works extremely hard on both sides of the ball. We always see offense in this league. But he wants to go two ways.
“I was the agent for the last one who walked on us and made a lot of money. I’ll be the agent for this one. This is a no-brainer.”