Josh Green driven to propel inspired Dallas Mavericks deep into playoffs

Australian wing Josh Green knew he needed to be patient.

Drafted with the 18th overall selection in the 2020 NBA draft after an outstanding collegiate season with Arizona, Green joined a Dallas Mavericks roster with championship aspirations.

Totalling 445 minutes across 39 appearances in his rookie season, Green understood he had to keep perspective of his own situation and where it fit in the overall landscape of the franchise goals.

"I play for the Dallas Mavericks. I'm on a playoff team. I'm on a team with a goal to make it as far in the playoffs as we can. I want to be playing, but I want to be a part of a winning franchise," Green told ESPN.

"If that means waiting for my time and making sure I have a role on the team eventually then that's my goal. It was definitely frustrating at some points but there is always a positive in everything."

Following on from his rookie season, Green entered the highly competitive environment of a Boomers training camp, with hopes of making the final cut to wear the green and gold at the Tokyo Olympics.

"Whatever it is, I'm going to go out there and play my hardest. Regardless of whether it's a practice or a scrimmage. I knew I needed to bring something that the team didn't already have," he explained.

"Being one of the youngest guys in the squad, it's one of the things with the Boomers, you have to wait your turn. I was able to learn so much from the older guys, Joe, Delly, Patty, Baynes, all those guys.

"I know they had to make cuts, I just didn't want it to be me. I didn't sit there and go through individual cuts to see who I could beat. At the end of the day, coach is going to take the 12 guys who he thinks can help win a medal."

Green's opportunities under Brian Goorjian were sparse, with a total of just 15 minutes on court coming from six games. Regardless of the minimalised role, the opportunity to be engrained among the veteran laden group taught the 21-year-old a valuable lesson in what's involved in becoming a professional.

"The whole Boomers culture, it's knowing it's not going to take one person to win a championship or make it far," Green said.

"There's a reason why there are five positions. It doesn't matter if you're shooting, there is so much to basketball that a lot of people can't see and it all starts at practice, it starts pregame. If everyone was able to take a look into the Boomers and the way we carried ourselves. It was really cool to be a part of it and it goes a long way for everyone.

"I love being around them. It's some of the best memories I've ever had. We still keep in contact all of us. At first, I didn't know what to expect, but we're brothers now. It's just one of things you just want to be around and continue to be a part of. Everyone is still supporting each other; we all play through different parts of the world. It's sick. It's so hard to explain everyone caring for each other, man it's crazy."

The Boomers clinched the historic bronze medal against Luka Doncic and the Slovenian national team. In just his fourth NBA season, Doncic is already established as an MVP caliber talent in the league, yet, it hasn't stopped Green from reminding him about that Olympic matchup.

"I bring it up a lot actually. It's not off limits, I go there all the time," Green said with a laugh.

In addition to Luka, Green is now playing under Hall of Fame point guard Jason Kidd, who took over the head coaching job from Rick Carlisle at the end of last season.

Kidd, who has earned a reputation as a hard-headed coach in previous stops in Brooklyn and Milwaukee, has built a strong relationship with Green during his first season on the sidelines.

"He's been great," Green said. "He's really let the players have a voice. If we feel something is working out in a game, we can go to it. There's been parts in games where I've made a particular read and he will pull me aside and ask me about another read and tell me to try that and I'm thinking in my head, 'how did he even see that?'

"He wishes the best for everybody and that's so cool to see. Everyone supports him just like he supports as. We're just staying as one and continuing to grow as a team."

Doncic is similar to Kidd in that regard, with the pair's court vision and basketball IQ off the charts. Under the tutelage of Kidd and alongside Doncic, Green is simply trying to find his place on the offensive end of the floor.

"Just making sure I'm in the right spots. Luka is one of the best players in the world at the age of 22 which is hard to believe. It's just making sure I'm watching film and the players on the court before me, seeing what they're doing, where I need to be spacing wise," he said.

"At the end of the day these teams are showing so much attention to him that it's important that I'm getting in the right spots and just trying to help as much as I can.

"When I first started playing here, even just at practice, I'd be in the corner not thinking the ball is coming to me and next thing it nearly wipes me out. Towards the end of last season, I know when he's about to pass it and start reading it now but he's a really good passer.

Rookie frustrations now in the past, Green has found a place in the Dallas rotation, earning his playing time with versatile defence as his offensive game finds its footing at the level.

"Going forward it's about getting in a rhythm. With my role in the team right now it's not about going out there and putting up 10-15 shots a night," he said. "I have games where I'll have six or seven shots and then I'll have games where I put up one shot. The offence is going to come.

"It's weird because I was always known for my offence and not so much my defence. My defence was kind of a weakness for me. As far as offence comes, I'll get in a rhythm and it was start feeling easier, it's just a time thing."

With All-Star weekend just days away, the Mavericks find themselves in the hunt for homecourt advantage in the first round of the postseason, just 2.5 games back of Utah for the four-seed in the Western Conference.

"This is a new group of guys, a whole new coaching staff. For us to get off to this start, I can only really see it going up and continuing to progress. Our chemistry is continuing to build, and I think we're in a really good position," Green said.

As for All-Star weekend, would Green, a known highflyer, ever consider entering the dunk contest?

"I don't know about that. If Luka goes in the dunk competition, I'll go in the dunk competition. We'll put it like that."

For the record, Doncic has 54 dunks in his NBA career, so we'll take that as a maybe.

Catch the full conversation with Josh Green and an Eastern Conference update from ESPN's Tim Bontemps on the latest episode of the Ball and the Real World Podcast.