The Dallas Mavericks found themselves at a crossroads entering the offseason. Although they’d built the most efficient offense in NBA history, spearheaded by 21-year-old wonderboy and MVP finalist, Luka Dončić, their season amounted to the Western Conference’s seventh-seed and a first-round exit. With less than $10 million in a mid-level exception (MLE) at their disposal and no real path to further improving their offensive firepower, a philosophical shift was necessary. They needed long, athletic defenders who were versatile and could knock down three-point shots whenever asked. They needed someone like Josh Green.
At 6-foot-6, 210 pounds and armed with a 6-foot-10 wingspan, Green is a versatile defender who can guard the small forwards, power forwards, small-ball centers, and many two-guards. He’s a phenomenal athlete with high upside and slots perfectly into the role the Mavs most needed to fill this offseason.
“[He’s a] terrific two-way player,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. “Terrific athlete… What we needed first for our roster were wing defenders who can shoot, score and hopefully make plays. We feel he’s a ready-to-go 3-and-D guy.”
In his lone season at Arizona, Green averaged 12 points per game and just under three assists. He also shot 42% from the field, including 36% from three. While his ball-handling and mid-range game remain a work-in-progress, he’s an excellent finisher around the rim. Green was recognized as one of the best defenders in the country in college, averaging 1.5 steals per contest. This skill, specifically, should allow him to provide quality minutes as he gets his feet under him and learns from veteran perimeter defenders like Josh Richardson.
Hailing from Sydney, Australia, Green excelled at many sports, including Australian rules football, rugby, soccer, and swimming. But it was through basketball that he began to unlock his true athletic potential. In 2015, Green’s family relocated to Phoenix, Arizona at Mountain Ridge High School. After initially impressing there, he found his way to IMG Academy in Florida, where he became a five-star draft prospect. As a senior, Green led IMG to a national championship over La Lumiere, earning MVP honors in the process. Despite offers from powerhouses like Villanova, North Carolina, and Kansas, Green committed to the University of Arizona, returning to the Grand Canyon State in which his American journey began.
Prior to the draft, as detailed by Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News, Green worked out with Joe Abunassar and Impact Basketball, a pre-draft training program that dates back 25 years and includes alumni like Kevin Garnett, Chris Bosh, Kawhi Leonard, Dwight Howard, and even current Maverick, Kristaps Porzingis.
“Josh’s combination of athleticism and size, with his skill set, is really what NBA teams are looking for,” Abunassar said.
“He’s got a great body, great size at 6’5 ½, and his athleticism is powerful.”
While Abunassar doesn’t believe Green is an “iso guy” presently, a fact that should actually help with his fit in Dallas, he believes he possesses the tools to become one with time, which could hint at a bright future for Mavs fans –a future Abunassar and Green saw even before the draft.
During his chat with Townsend, Abunassar noted that, even before the draft, he and Green had specifically circled Dallas as an ideal landing spot. This was due not only to Abunassar’s decades-long history with Rick Carlisle, dating back to Carlisle’s days in Indiana, but his relationship with Mavs GM Donnie Nelson as well. The two knew what Dallas was looking for and how they generally operated both on the court and off. As such, they recognized that, were he to slip to 18, there was a strong chance Green would be a Maverick.
“Definitely think the next couple of years, they’re a championship-contender team,” Green said of the Mavericks before the draft. “Me being able to come in and play defense, just being versatile and hitting open shots, I think it would be a great fit.”