Josh Green tackling critical offseason with gusto

FRISCO – Josh Green is one of the Mavericks in the midst of an important offseason.

The Australian guard made a solid progression from being a rookie deep on the bench to a second-year rotation player on a team that went to the Western Conference finals last season.

Now what?

Green, who made a pit stop this week at the Frisco Athletic Center to host the Mavs Hoop Camp presented by Chick-fil-A, is approaching his third NBA season with a sense of urgency – partly because of the way last season ended.

His regular season was a good step forward. He even had a few moments in the playoffs, like the Game 3 win that shifted the Utah series in the Mavs’ favor when he had 12 points and six assists in 19 minutes.

But at the end, it went sour. Green was out of the rotation in the West finals against Golden State, seeing only cameo minutes. When he was minus-9 in 2 early fourth-quarter minutes of Game 4, he was removed and didn’t play again until the last two minutes of Game 5 when the series was over.

Another factor weighing on him: he knows that he’s unwise to let too many years pass in the NBA without making a stride up the competitive ladder.

“Year three is always meant to be the biggest year in your (progression),” Green said. “For me, it’s just making sure I’m prepared and ready to go, which I feel like I will be.

“I don’t want to be in a situation where I get pulled out of the lineup anymore.”

That’s essentially what happened in the conference finals. It wasn’t necessarily an indictment on Green. A lot of the Mavericks had trouble against Golden State’s rugged defense and free-flowing offense.

But it was a dull end to an otherwise year of improvement for Green.

His scoring, rebounding, assists, minutes played, shooting and 3-point percentage all went up in 2021-22. Of all those, his minutes and 3-point shooting were the two things that the Mavericks know are tangible evidence that Green is capable of more in the upcoming season.

Coach Jason Kidd said last season that the 6-5 Green needed to “build on his foundation, which has been great.” What, in particular, that means is open to interpretation, but it’s clear that, after losing Jalen Brunson in free agency, the Mavericks are in the market for a third ballhandler behind Luka Dončić and Spencer Dinwiddie.

“It’s been a very big offseason for me,” Green said. “This is my first offseason I’ve had to just work on my game in five years because of my shoulder surgeries, the Olympics and all that other stuff.

“For me, it’s just coming up with a really good plan and being able to develop as much as I can in the offseason. Everything’s organized. It’s been a really good last two months. I feel like I’ve been able to gain a lot from it.”

Asked what Kidd and president of basketball operations Nico Harrison advised Green to work on, he said: “Just continue doing what I’m doing and continue to grow in my role. The opportunity will be there. It’s really up to me now to work on my game and come into training camp ready to go.”

The only players so far that are in line to inherit a lot of Brunson’s 32 minutes per game are Green, Theo Pinson and rookie second-rounder Jaden Hardy.

That’s why it’s clear that the opportunity, indeed, is going to be there for Green. And we often forget that he won’t turn 22 until Nov. 16. His growth curve remains pointed upward.

He’s been preparing for this important season in Las Vegas, his offseason home. Daily workouts have been diverse, but it’s a safe bet that ballhandling has been an emphasis.

Next week, Green will take a trip back to Australia, the first time he’s been back to his homeland since before college. He said he’s bringing his little sister ana couple other family members with him.

But before that, he took part in drills and fun with about 150 kids at the Frisco Athletic Center. It brought back some memories for Green.

“I remember as a kid these meet-and-greets,” he said. “I waited in line to see Andrew Bogut in Sydney. He was on Fox Sports and there was a meet-and-greet after. I went and saw him. I remember that. I went to a lot of camps. I was probably 8 or 9. My dad was a coach so I’d really just go to stuff with my dad.”

Now, he’s creating memories for Dallas-area kids.

But the primary order of business is to give himself the best shot possible to move up the playing rotation this season.

He’s spent his first two seasons recovering from the COVID-19 issues that dogged not just the NBA, but everybody. He’s now reached a point where he can make the most of his first two years of pro experience.

“I feel very comfortable now – a big difference to where I was a year ago where you’re still trying to figure things out,” he said.

He is excited about teaming up with new big men Christian Wood and JaVale McGee. But he’s also cognizant that one of the Mavericks’ best players from last season won’t be here.

Green and Brunson were very close off the court – and remain so.

“Obviously I’m very upset, not with Jalen but the fact that he chose the Knicks,” Green said. “But at the end of the day, that’s my boy outside of basketball. I’m very happy for him.

“I wish I was still playing with him. But I’m super-happy for him and I know he’ll do great things there.”

Twitter: @ESefko

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