Josh Green ready for dirty work with 'perfect fit' Dallas Mavericks

At first, Josh Green was too overwhelmed to even think about the upshot of the moment. Even though he was told what was about to happen on screen -- his agents FaceTimed him five minutes earlier -- Green says he went "into shock", or something like it, when Adam Silver announced to the world that the Dallas Mavericks were taking him with the 18th overall pick in the 2020 Draft.

It was only as the hours went by that the 20-year-old's analytical mind kicked in; and the more he critiqued his new situation, the more it seemed like as perfect a fit as he could imagine.

To start, Green was the three-and-D wing the Mavericks had been targeting to, at times, slot right next to All-Stars Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis, and the Australian also brings an NBA-ready body to that equation. Speaking of Australia, the native of Sydney knows the way he plays meshes perfectly with the international sensibilities of a lot of the current Mavericks roster. And finally, the reason Green earned workouts with a heap of contenders during his pre-draft process was because the prevailing thought among NBA teams was that he can make an immediate impact; in Dallas, he'll need to do that for a franchise hoping to contend, and he knows exactly what his meal ticket will be from day one.

"For me, coming in as a rookie, I'm completely fine with doing the dirty work,' Green told ESPN, a day after being drafted.

"I love playing defence, I love getting up and down, getting on the floor, hustling. So, I feel like if I'm here to make winning plays, it can only help Dallas out. I'm gonna come in with that mindset, being able to learn from the older guys on the team, being able to learn from someone like Luka, who's younger but a star now in the NBA. It's all about growing every day, bringing 100 percent, and doing whatever I can do to help the team out the most."

On Doncic, Green said the Slovenian All-NBA First Teamer is an "amazing player" who's "taking over the league". When it came to the way head coach Rick Carlisle ran his team, Green gushed at the international feel of the roster: "It's a really unselfish environment; structured basketball".

And then, there's the recent trade the Mavericks made with the Philadelphia 76ers, bringing in another two-way wing in Josh Richardson. On the surface, you'd think Green would shudder at the thought of a proven player in his position joining his team to likely start ahead of him at the small forward spot, potentially taking minutes away from the Australian. That was far from the case.

"In my team interviews, a lot of teams asked me, 'who do you think you can kinda play similar to?'," Green recalled. "Josh Richardson was one of the people I bring up, just because of the impact he has on the floor. He has a huge impact on the floor; he's a very good leader, plays defence. So, for me, being able to practice against somebody like that every day, and to have him as my vet, is awesome. I think I can continue to learn and develop off him."

Green will join the Mavericks after one season playing under Sean Miller at the University of Arizona, a school whose alumni includes Jason Terry, who was part of the Mavericks' title run in 2011. Terry was a point of contact for the franchise when scouting Green, and the intel that was gathered was enough for the front office to use their lone first-round pick to draft the Australian just outside the lottery.

Before his time at Arizona, Green led his high school team, IMG Academy, to a national championship, playing a lot at the point for the stacked roster known for being plastered across the mixtape ecosystem. That accomplishment is a far cry from the NBA, but there's a sense that Green has always been embedded in successful environments; another reason why the Mavericks didn't hesitate when using the 18th overall pick on him.

"I love winning," Green, now set to join a Mavericks team coming off a first-round playoff exit, said.

"I try to resemble my whole game from winning. It's just something I enjoy; I've always been a competitive guy so, for me, I think it's big for a team. A lot of people don't want to make smaller plays in a game, like jumping on the floor or taking a charge, but I see those as winning plays, and those are the plays where I'm willing to sacrifice for my team to win the game or just get momentum in the game."

Green will head to Dallas with his head juggling a mixture of sentiments: humility and practicality, yet with a lingering ambition.

The wing knows exactly the sort of role he'll have when he arrives in Texas with less than a month before the NBA regular season's December 22 start. He'll have to guard the opposition's key perimeter threats -- something he excelled at during his time in Arizona -- and hit open shots when Doncic commands attention; it's simplistic, but the reality of a three-and-D threat on a team with established stars.


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In the back of Green's mind, though, he knows his 6'6 frame holds a plethora of potential, so the idea of improving into more than just that complementary wing player is one he hopes can manifest over the next few seasons in the league.

"It's so unpredictable what your future can be like, but that's why I think it's important for younger guys to come in and know what they have to do for a team to be successful," Green said.

"So, for me, from the get-go, I need to make sure I'm continuing to play defence, being a great teammate, and just doing the little stuff on the court. There's only one ball on the court. You have five players on your team, so not everybody can shoot the ball. You need to be able to find a way to do the little things to help.

"Obviously, throughout an NBA career, you start getting more respect and you're able to shoot but, for me, my main focus is coming in and doing whatever I can do to help the team out."

When Green gets to Dallas' American Airlines Center, it will be a monumental stop in what's been a unique journey around the United States; one that began in Phoenix, Arizona, moved to Brandeton, Florida, before a necessary trip through Tucson, Arizona. The third oldest of four siblings, Green hasn't been back to Australia since his family left their Castle Hill home for the deserts of Phoenix when he was just 14, and his Australian accent is almost completely extinct at the age of 20

It's why Green says he hopes to base his off-seasons in Australia over the course of his NBA career, with the goal of getting back to his roots, and seeing the family and friends he's been away from for more than half a decade. Keeping connected with his home country also provides the perfect opportunity to be close to a national program he's now almost certainly set to be a staple of. Green hopes that can begin at the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.

"I would love to play for the Boomers," Green said, when asked if he'd like to represent his country at Tokyo 2021.

"I've always wanted to be able to represent Australia, and always continue to want to represent Australia. Every single time I'm on the court, I make sure that I try my best to be a good role model for little kids growing up in Australia and whatnot so, for me to be able to put on the green and gold, I'd love to do it. I think it just depends on how the season goes this year, you know, and how they structure the whole Olympics."


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Obstacle after obstacle has been thrown at all of us over 2020, and Green's world wasn't immune to that. His one college season was cut short because of COVID-19, just as he was heating up; pre-draft workouts in Las Vegas looked far from normal and lasted a whopping eight months; and Green never got the chance to shake the NBA Commissioner's hand after being drafted, instead watching the virtual proceedings from a house in Scottsdale, Arizona.

So, when asked what prevailing feeling was motivating his journey from here on out, Green perked up.

"Honestly, I'm excited, I'm motivated, I'm ready to go," he said.

"I'm actually really looking forward to being able to get to Dallas and working as hard as I can. It starts with training camp. I want to be able to bring energy and just learn as much as I can. I'm a young guy, we've got the younger guys coming in, so I think it's important just to come in... and just continue to learn and develop my game."