By: Anthony Miller
The Dallas Mavericks showed off their young talent in Las Vegas as the team finished with a winning record in the NBA Summer League.
Things didn’t start that well for Dallas as they lost their first Summer League matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder 91-80. After their offensive struggles of that game, they never reverted to that as they closed out the last four games with wins finishing with a 4-1 record. In that four-game winning streak, the Mavericks scored over 100 points in three of those four games, and their lowest point total in that stretch was 98.
Dallas was not able to reach the playoffs of the Summer League but proved to a lot of teams that the future is bright for this organization. Jared Dudley was the head coach of the team during the Summer League and seemed to have the team prepared. There are some good takeaways that the Mavericks can be encouraged about as they head into the preseason.
First-Round Picks Show Great Promise
All eyes were on Dallas Mavericks’ first-round picks Dereck Lively II and Olivier-Maxence Prosper who had their first games in Mavericks uniforms. The expectation for each guy is to be an eventual starter in the future and help Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving on the defense. Both ended up performing well in their first five games with the team.
Prosper was the standout of the two as he played as well as a player could on both offense and defense. Defense is where he stood out the most playing tough with ball handlers as well as being able to grab tough rebounds. He finished by averaging 12.6 points and 5.4 rebounds per game for Dallas. Coach Dudley was pleased with his performance and even graded him a nine out of ten for how well he played defense.
“Defensively, he’s an above-average defender right now. He has the size. He has the mental capability. Offensively, he doesn’t (try to) do too much. You look at his body, already a man’s build. You can imagine it after two or three years in the weight room. Right now, it’s just learning the nuances. And that will come.”
As for Lively, he performed well in the five games with some development needed. He was able to produce more on the offensive side than what was expected, which is encouraging for fans to see. Where the team is looking for him to improve is on the defensive side which has more with him understanding the scheme of the team.
“I would say seven out of 10 for Lively. He has a way to go of learning our defensive coverages. His conditioning will only get better.”
Jaden Hardy Balled Out Before Injury
Even though the attention was on the two first-round picks, the star of the summer for Dallas was Jaden Hardy. What made Hardy good through the first three games was his ability to score, which he often did, never scoring under 21 points in a game. Hardy finished the Summer League averaging 23 points per game before he suffered a shoulder injury in game three against the Golden State Warriors. While the injury was not serious, the Mavericks wanted to protect him and decided not to play him the last two games.
There are aspects of his game that need improvement though as his defensive performance was not strong. His shooting was all over the place as well despite being a great scorer. At times, it seems that he needs to pick his spots better when he is going to shoot the ball. Hardy acknowledged that he must work on some parts of his game.
“One of the things is playing in the pick and roll, slowing it down and making the right reads. And then, defensively, I got to be better defensively knowing where I’m supposed to be, the schemes. Those are the two biggest things.”
Jared Dudley Could Be a Future NBA Head Coach
Praise needs to be pointed towards the man who led the team for five games as their head coach for the job he did. Coach Dudley was able to help the team bounce back from their opening game loss and rack up four straight wins. The offense showed the most improvement from game one as they went from 80 points to averaging over 100 points per game through the last four games.
His other big task was to help in the development of Lively and Prosper. While he’s not going to be able to turn them into superstars in five games, he was able to get them developing in the right direction. Each player showed good improvement throughout all five of their games. Both players should end up being at least good role players on the team if not key starters.
The Mavericks needed a strong start to the summer to ensure they were set up for success with their younger players. While defensively Dallas was not where they needed to be, they have plenty of players who can be scorers for them. Fans can be assured that the team did step a step in the right direction to start their 2023-2024 season.
Featured Image via Madeline Carter/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP