NBA Coaches Sound off on Mavs’ ‘Key’ Potential Jalen Brunson Replacement

Jason Kidd, right, looks on during the Mavericks' conference final series against Golden State.

Getty Jason Kidd, right, looks on during the Mavericks' conference final series against Golden State.

When it comes to finding ways to replace the scoring and impact that point guard Jalen Brunson had for the Mavericks last season, the top candidates are obvious.

There’s veteran NBA shooting guard Tim Hardaway Jr., whose January foot injury ended what had already been a difficult first half of the season in which THJ could not find his shooting stroke. And there’s guard Spencer Dinwiddie, acquired from Washington in the Kristaps Porzingis trade.

The Mavericks, scoring-wise, also can get more from the revamped frontcourt, where Christian Wood averaged 17.9 points in Houston last year and JaVale McGee scored 20.9 points per 36 minutes at center in Phoenix, well ahead of those numbers for last year’s starter, Dwight Powell (14.4).

But one of the biggest potential bumps the Mavs can get might just come from a guy who averaged a mere 4.8 points last year—Josh Green, who is heading into a critical third season in Dallas after finally getting a small taste of playing time for coach Jason Kidd last year.

“If he winds up being the fourth wing in that group, if he beats out the guys that he should, frankly, beat out hands-down, that can only mean really good things for them,” one Western Conference assistant coach told Heavy Sports about Green. “He’s got great defensive ability, he just needs experience. He got better with his 3-point shot, watching his stroke he should be around a 40% 3-point guy. He’s potentially a really good 3-and-D wing there and he could be a key for them.”


Green Excelled in Transition

There’s another aspect Green could help the Mavericks address next season—playing with greater pace. The Mavs, according to NBA.com stats, had a pace factor of 95.64, which was dead last in the NBA. Green is very athletic and is an excellent finisher at the rim. The more Dallas gets into transition, the better it will be for Green.

The Mavs’ 14.9 points per game in transition were 30th in the NBA. Green, though, averaged 1.28 points per possession in transition, which was in the 78.8th percentile in the league, making him among the most efficient fast-break players. He got 25.5% of his possessions in transition, which was ninth among players who appeared in 50 games or more.

“He can run the floor,” another coach said. They don’t like to run because Luka (Doncic) is such a stop-and-start guy, he wants to set you up. They were one of the slowest (30th, actually) teams last year, he can help push them up a bit with some tempo, at least with the second unit.”


Green Will Have to Beat Out Ntilikina, Others

But that can only happen if Green outplays veteran wings on the depth chart. As it stands, the Mavericks are likely to start with Dinwiddie shooting guard and Dorian Finney-Smith at small forward. Hardaway will be the primary backup behind Dinwiddie and Reggie Bullock behind DFS.

There will be a battle for playing time among Frank Ntilikina, the ever-excitable Theo Pinson, newly signed veteran Tyler Dorsey and Green.

Ntilikina will be Green’s biggest competition for minutes. He’s still young (24) and Green lost out on playing time to Ntilikina over the course of last year’s playoffs because Ntilikina is a more consistent and polished defender.

But Green only turns 22 in November. He’s got an upside advantage over Ntilikina and if he can begin cashing in on that potential, it will only mean good things for the Mavs.

 

 

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