He may not have been the deciding factor, but Jason Terry played a role in the Dallas Mavericks’ decision to select shooting guard Josh Green with the 18th pick of Wednesday’s NBA Draft.
Green played his college basketball at Arizona, which is where Terry also played his college basketball from 1995-99 while helping the Wildcats capture the 1997 NCAA championship. And since Terry played for the Mavs from 2004-12 and helped them win a championship in 2011, he still has close ties within the Mavs’ organization, where his influential opinions are highly regarded.
Thus, leading up to the draft, those within the Mavs’ organization reached out to Terry to get his opinion on Green. And although Terry didn’t become an assistant coach on the staff of Arizona head coach Sean Miller until May 28 — after the conclusion of last season — he knew enough about Green to give the Mavs a viable assessment of the 20-year old who may wind up starting in same the backcourt alongside Luka Doncic.
“I think if you’re going to draft a player in the first round with the pick the Mavericks had, you’re going to do your research,” Miller said during a Friday afternoon Zoom conference. “Clearly, Jason Terry and how much he’s respected in the Dallas Mavericks’ organization, and then the fact that he’s here. . .
“Obviously, Jason did not coach Josh, but he’s gotten to know Josh through us as a staff and a lot of the things that we’ve talked about. So clearly (the Mavs) utilized Jason in a way they should have – to dig as deep as you can and find out the most on and off the court that you can so that you make a great pick.”
In Miller’s mind, the Mavs were able to obtain a very resourceful player in Green. A player who could make an impact, Miller said, as a rookie.
“Dallas made a great pick, and they utilized all of their resources,” Miller said. “Clearly, one thing about this year’s draft, everybody had plenty of time to really drill down on finding out who these guys are, where they come from, (their) strengths, weaknesses.
In his one season at Arizona, Green averaged 12 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.5 steals, and shot 42.4 percent from the field and 36.1 percent from 3-point land in 30.9 minutes per game. Before he got to college, Miller also had to overcome some obstacles after his family moved from Australia to Phoenix in November, 2014.
“His family has really sacrificed a lot,” Miller said. “Josh finished his high school career at IMG Academy in Florida – even though his family continued to reside here in the state of Arizona — so he’s been away from home. He’s certainly been away from his home country. Then, he had labrum surgeries, which he’s 100 percent recovered now, but it took him away from the court at a really, really crucial time.
“Missing time in the senior year of high school, missing in essence the spring and summer before you go to Arizona and play your one year (of college basketball), if you consider how much time he missed and the season that he had and I think where he’s going right now, that’s the other thing that I think we really tried to share with Dallas is that Josh’s upside is even higher than maybe you realize because in essence he missed eight or nine months of basketball time in his senior year of high school and before his freshman year of college. So, consider that and I think that you’ll consider that he’s healthy now and where he’s going to go in this next year-and-a-half will be really exciting to follow.”
At 6-6 and 210 pounds, Green excelled earlier in life while playing Australian rules football, rugby, soccer and swimming, in addition to basketball. While navigating his way through those sports, it helped him become the physical specimen that he is today.
“I think the one point that I would bring up about Josh is he has kind of a natural way of being very physical,” Miller said. “That may stem from kind of growing up in Australia and playing different sports or kind of (playing) a different type of sport, but he has no problem being physical.
“I think that’s one of the reasons that he’s such an excellent defensive player – ahead of the curve for somebody who is so young – and thrives in transition. I think when you see the game really getting fast, that’s when he’s at his best, and clearly that physicality is really a part of him. And that’s something he’ll never lose. He’s had it for a long time, and I think that will really serve him well, especially as a young player in the NBA.”
And his solid upbringing, Miller insists, will serve Green well during his transition from college to the NBA.
“I think the sky’s the limit on where he’ll end up as a basketball player,” Miller said. “His best days are ahead of him, but off the court he’s the total package.
“He makes great decisions, he’s really popular in the locker room. The other part of it is he knows his role. I think he knows his strengths and weaknesses, and he’s very determined to work on those weaknesses and embrace those strengths early in his NBA career.”