Based on what transpired in Milwaukee over the weekend, Josh Richardson is already meshing very well in the Dallas Mavericks’ backcourt alongside superstar Luka Doncic.
So much so that Doncic contributed 27 points, eight rebounds and four assists in Monday’s 128-112 triumph over the Bucks at Fiserv Forum, and Richardson chipped in with 23 points, seven rebounds and a pair of assists. And in addition to his offensive game, Richardson’s heady defense in the two contests in Milwaukee also thoroughly impressed coach Rick Carlisle.
“Richardson played terrific in both of these games,” Carlisle said. “I love the way he’s shooting the ball, I love the way he’s picking up the reads out of our system, which is quite different than what they did in Philadelphia last year.
“And more importantly, he and Luka really have a nice feel for one another and really play well off of each other.”
Richardson, acquired on Nov. 18 in a draft-day trade that sent Seth Curry to the Philadelphia 76ers, has figured out why he and Doncic are already as aligned as a pair of synchronized swimmers.
“First of all I think we have similar personalities,” Richardson said after the Mavs padded their preseason record to 2-0. “We’re very goofy off the court, but on the court it’s business once that game starts.
“I think that I can kind of help him in getting plays from coach – little things, see defensive plays – and get him to his spots. And then he’s just, what are you really going to say about that guy on offense? He just does anything you need him to. I’m just trying to make it easier for him and find my spots. He kind of makes the game easy.”
Doncic was complimentary of Richardson, who tallied 11 first-quarter points on Monday and finished the game converting 7-of-10 shots, including making a remarkable 5-of-6 baskets from downtown.
“He’s an amazing player,” Doncic said. “We’re only in preseason, but you can see it. He brings a lot of stuff.
“He can shoot, he can dribble, he can guard anybody, and he brings a lot to the team. I’m really happy and we’re really happy to have him.”
After playing the first four years of his NBA career in Miami and last season in Philadelphia, Richardson is happy to have found a home in Dallas. Especially since he grew up in Edmond, OK.
And if the first two preseason games are an indication, Richardson will bring a lot to the table for the Mavs this season.
“Í think I bring leadership, I think I bring toughness, I think I bring good intangibles to these guys,” Richardson said. “I think we have a lot of good guys on this team and I think we just needed some toughness to get us over the edge, and I think that’s something myself and James Johnson can bring.”
Richardson also said not to pay too much attention to last season in Philadelphia when he averaged 13.7 points and shot just 34.1 percent from 3-point land.
“I can hit shots,” Richardson said. “This past year a lot of people might say what they say about my year in Philly, but it was kind of a tough situation for me.
“But here (in Dallas) I think I’ll play a little bit better. And we like to get out and run.”
Green is the silent type: There’s one thing coach Rick Carlisle has already learned about rookie forward Josh Green.
“He doesn’t say nothing, man,” Carlisle said. “He just plays hard. He’s got a great background of fundamentals, he’s had terrific coaching.
“He understands the reads of the game from a spacing standpoint – when to space, when to spot, when to cut, when to drive, when to catch and drive, when to fake and drive. He’s really beyond his years in terms of his grasp of today’s NBA game. (He’s) real smart. He gets things the first time.”
Carlisle admits that rookies like Green – he had 10 points in 19 minutes on Monday — are behind the eight ball a bit in that because of COVID-19, they didn’t have a pre-draft camp or a summer league, and they had to report to training camp less than two weeks after the Nov. 18 NBA Draft.
And what about next season?
“We don’t know what it’s going to look like for the next couple of years as these guys get drafted,” Carlisle said. “The season is going to get over in late July in 2021—at least that’s what it says on the schedule. When is that (2021) draft going to be, and will there be a summer league? Those things are up in the air.
“This sort of meteoric transition from the draft to right to veteran training camp could be something that we continue to see for a while. But (Green’s) been terrific. Right now he’s not going to put up gaudy stats, but he’s going to do the basics extremely well and he’s going to be a guy that fights people defensively.”
Adjustments will be made: Coach Rick Carlisle admits some things are going to be different this season as the NBA attempts to get through the season in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
“The adjustments are the morning testing,” Carlisle said. “It influences practice time a little bit. It certainly is going to be hard to practice in the morning.
“It’s going to affect shootarounds in many situations, but a lot of teams are opting out of doing shootarounds anyway with the way the schedule has been sort of re-made the last three years.”
The Mavs left Dallas for Milwaukee last Friday, played the Bucks on Saturday and again on Monday. So how was the road trip different than the Mavs’ 54-day stay in the bubble in Orlando this past summer?
“All in all, this has been a good road trip, a good experience,” Carlisle sad. “We actually had the entire hotel to ourselves. There will be situations like that this year.”
High praise for Kleber: He may not be as athletic as the next player. But there’s one intangible forward Maxi Kleber has that not a lot of other NBA players have.
“He’s really become one of the better two-way players in the league,” Carlisle said. “There aren’t many 6-10 guys that can guard perimeter players and protect the rim. This is very unusual. Or drive it and be able to make plays and shoot threes with range.”
Kleber’s defense is definitely underrated, according to Carlisle. Now in his fourth season, he drew a charge from Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo in Saturday’s preseason opener, and he drew another charge from Antetokounmpo on Monday.
“Give Maxi a lot of credit,” Carlisle said. “He’s worked extremely hard to develop all these skills and to adjust to what the NBA game is all about from the European game, because the two (leagues), spacing-wise, are quite different.”