LAS VEGAS — Tyrell Terry’s rookie NBA season didn’t exactly go as planned.
There was the late arrival of the NBA Draft due to the coronavirus. That same pandemic was the reason the 2020 MGM Resorts NBA Summer League was canceled. And that sliced training camp down to less than a week, trimmed preseason games down to three, and wrecked whatever dreams Terry had about his rookie season when he was a kid growing up in Minneapolis.
When asked about last year’s unsettling season following Saturday’s practice at the Thomas & Mack Center, Terry said: “I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s frustrating, but it definitely made the adjustment (from college to the NBA) harder. Not getting many games in right before going right into the real training camp was hard.
“It kind of started us rookies at a little bit of a disadvantage than normal years.”
Terry was a second-round draft pick by the Dallas Mavericks last year out of Stanford. The 6-2, 160-pound guard played one year for the Cardinal when he made the Pac-12 All-Freshman Team, but doesn’t have many memorable highlights from his rookie NBA season.
In the 11 games Terry played for the Mavs last season, he averaged just one point and 5.1 minutes. He also played in the G League bubble for the Memphis Hustle.
“I think the highlight for me was just being in the NBA,” Terry said. “I knew it wasn’t a normal year, but just being immersed around the best players and the best coaches in the world was great. I still got to experience some really cool things and see some arenas I’ve never seen before, so it all was a great experience.”
Mavs summer league coach Greg St. Jean was an assistant coach with the Los Angeles Lakers last season, so he doesn’t have first-hand knowledge of what Terry experienced last year.
“But what I can say is I know a lot of the guys that we worked with on the Lakers and some of the other coaches I’ve talked to, those repetitions in summer league and being able to play in an organic G League setting, it’s not that they’re behind, but they’re missing critical reps,” St. Jean said. “We’re not trying to expedite Tyrell’s progress.
“We’re being patient with him. But we do think it’s going to be important for us to make sure we value this time.”
As the Mavs open play in the MGM Resorts Summer League on Monday at the Thomas & Mack Center at 3 p.m. CDT against the Philadelphia 76ers, St. Jean is looking for great things from Terry.
“We’re going to continue to just challenge him,” St. Jean said. “I think Tyrell is a super talented player.
“Obviously, he’s somebody who’s part of our group right now, so we’re going to challenge him to continue to lead, and I’m challenging him individually to create a better motor. I think he’s somebody who’s a better competitor than people give him credit for and I want him to show everybody that.”
That’s precisely what Terry plans to do. But, first things first.
“From last year there’s some catching up to do,” Terry said. “There’s still certain things that I’m catching up to now, but I think I’m doing a very good job of catching onto it quickly and learning from it.
“I just want to get better individually and with the guys on our team. I think other than that, just win ballgames. We came to Vegas on a business trip, not a vacation.”
As far as that trip in the bubble with the Memphis Hustle is concerned, that was all business too, for Terry.
“It was a good experience,” he said. “I got some game time, I could play a lot more off the ball, which I wasn’t normally used to.
“So it was a good experience to go out there and just play a lot of minutes and get some experience.”
And how was that experience in the bubble for Terry?
“It was weird, I won’t lie,” he said. “I’ve never been in that type of environment before.
“You just went to your room after games and just chilled out, and hooped. It wasn’t a terrible experience. I think it was something that was beneficial for me, for sure.”
St. Jean believes the more time Terry gets on the court, the more beneficial he’ll be to the Mavs.
“He’s doing really well,” St. Jean said. “This our fourth practice and every single day he’s getting more comfortable in what we’re doing. I think one of the biggest things for Tyrell was to get game reps at the professional level.
“He didn’t have a regular NBA rookie season, so this is going to be important for us here in the next week-and-a-half to be able to evaluate him, get him in a lot of different situations on the ball, off the ball. So today was a heavy scrimmage day for us and it’s going to be great for us to watch some of the film with him and learn.”