Former Arizona Wildcat and now Dallas Maverick Josh Green received the Christmas present of a lifetime as a young basketball fan — getting to travel from Australia to Los Angeles to see Kobe Bryant and LeBron James play on Christmas day.
“I mean, growing up, my favorite player was always Kobe,” Green said. “I always used to like to pretend like I was him in the driveway, counting down the shot clock and everything like that. So one Christmas time, it was probably the best Christmas present ever, we were able to come and watch that game, and it was awesome.”
Two games into his NBA career and just over a month after he was drafted, Green will be playing on Christmas Day in the Staples Center himself.
“To think I’m going to be able to play Christmas Day in the Staples Center, you know, I think it is awesome,” Green said.
This isn’t the traditional offseason that NBA rookies are used to with no summer league, but Green is doing what he can to fit in with the Dallas Mavericks as we are now less than two weeks away from the start of the upcoming season.
“I think you know the way I play and the way I try to play as far as being a team player. You know, I think it’s helpful in the sense that every single time I get on the court, my goal is to just play 100 percent,” Green said. “Obviously there is still a lot more I have to learn, but you know, for the most part, I’m just ready to go out there and compete and do whatever I can to help the team win.”
Green was selected with the No. 18 overall pick by the Dallas Mavericks and within a month of being drafted, he’ll be making his NBA debut on Dec. 23 against the Phoenix Suns.
“This is my first NBA training camp, so I don’t know what other ones have been like, but for me the two full weeks, it’s been hectic,” Green said. “From getting drafted to the Mavs to everything unwinding to being able to come out here, you know, find a place and all of that. But my main focus right now is just practice and making sure I’m practicing as hard as I can and being able to just learn as much as I can.”
The 6’6 guard only played one year with the Wildcats, but that is all it took to show off his talent on the defensive side of the ball, and Green prides himself in standing out defensively.
“I think it starts off the court,” Green said. “From being able to watch film on certain players you’re going to be playing against and being able to learn certain things that they do. But for me, I enjoy playing defense. I know a lot of people don’t really enjoy that side of the court, but for me I really do, so you know with defense, I think there is so much to learn from and being able to pick up from other players, and I think a lot of it comes down to being able to break down film and being able to see who you’re playing against.”
In his one year in Tucson, Green averaged 1.5 steals and 0.4 blocks per game which might not seem like huge numbers, but it is his size and length that allows him to affect so many shots that don’t show up in the stat sheet. That was an emphasis that he worked on with Arizona head coach Sean Miller in practices, and he noted how similar practices are between Miller and Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle.
“To be honest with you, both of them is a lot of defense,” Green said. “Going into Arizona, it was a lot of defense, and coach Carlisle, he enforces a lot of defense here as well. So for me, for the short time I’ve been here, I’ve loved both practices. You get a lot out of being able to do team defensive schemes and whatnot. So for me, I think it’s just a higher level, a much higher level of players and physicality-wise. But apart from what we’re learning, it’s kind of similar as far as team defensive concepts.”
The Mavericks, a playoff team last year, boast a combination of young players and veterans that Green should be able to learn from right off the bat.
“I think the Mavs are a very talented team,” Green said. “Whether it’s Luka [Doncic] all the way to the vets with J-Rich [Jason Richardson] and James Johnson and all these types of players. I think just being able to learn from them on the court and off the court I think can only help me out, so whether it is defensive or on the offensive end, it’s been awesome. Tim Hardaway Jr. as well, so for me, it is just continuing to grow every single day and becoming the best player I can be.”
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