After playoff benching, Mavs' Josh Green is 'more motivated than ever'

After playoff benching, Mavs' Josh Green is 'more motivated than ever'

You never know who's going to walk through the door at Impact Basketball in Las Vegas. 

Some days, you may see multiple stars training with Joe Abunassar and his staff. One day last summer, Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Paul George, LaMelo Ball and Tyrese Haliburton each came through to work out. Over a 24-hour span last week, Kevin Garnett, Carmelo Anthony and Tayshaun Prince showed up to the famed gym.

Impact Basketball is known as a revolving door of notable NBA players, with plenty of people popping in for a workout or pick-up run. However, a select few players spend the entire offseason at Impact, creating a custom development plan, working out with Abunassar daily, following a strict diet, tracking their biometrics and more.

This summer, one player who committed to this intensive offseason regimen is Dallas Mavericks wing Josh Green. Less than 24 hours after the Mavs were eliminated from the 2022 NBA Playoffs, Green contacted Abunassar to map out his summer program.

“I texted Joe the day after we unfortunately lost, and I told him that I was ready to go whenever,” Green told Basketball News. “After that, I stayed about three days in Dallas and went on a quick vacation, and then I was at Impact. I’ve been here for about a month.”

“We’ve had a lot of time to work with him this summer because he got here early,” Abunassar said. “He took four or five days after the season and then got out here, and he hasn’t left town. While guys are in and out and doing all of this other stuff, he’s been locked in and working on the same things every day. The fact that he’s locked in and so consistent is going to result in a very good season. I think it says a lot about his commitment and what his focus is for next season. It’s time for Josh to really, really step up — as he did last year, but this is that next step.”

Prior to Garnett’s MVP season in 2003-04, KG locked in and really embraced the nutrition component of Abunassar’s program. Before Lowry became a first-time All-Star at 28 years old, he spent the offseason with Impact, making significant changes to his diet for the first time and even leaving his honeymoon early to get in extra training. In both cases, Abunassar predicted their breakout success before the season based on what he’d witnessed behind the scenes.

“If you talk to most NBA players, they’re all over the place. For them to put themselves in one place for two straight months and consistently follow the same schedule, that’s pretty rare,” Abunassar said. “But I will tell you this: I’ve done this for 25 years and every guy who does that has a good season — whether it’s with me or wherever.”

Green is hoping to become Impact's latest success story. The 21-year-old entered this offseason with some extra motivation after getting benched during the Mavs’ postseason run.

“Being able to get to the Conference Finals during my second year only makes me want to go further and further,” Green said. “I was able to play in the Utah series and then got benched. So, for me, it’s cool that I was able to play in the rotation for the first [series], but shit, I’m a basketball player and wanted to continue to [play]. But there was a reason: I need to hit my shots. So going into this offseason, that motivated me a lot more. I want to make sure I’m ready to go for next season, so when that opportunity comes again, I’m confident going into it and ready to go...

“It’s hard being on the bench and watching the team lose and being like, ‘Damn, I want to play.’ ... I’m one of the most competitive people. I hate it, but whatever it is, I’m just very competitive.”

While he played sparingly during the Mavs’ series against Phoenix Suns, he was animated when discussing Dallas’ Game 6 win to protect its homecourt and the team’s blowout win in Game 7 to advance to the Western Conference Finals.

“It was crazy!” Green said of beating the Suns. “Obviously, we had to defend our home court [in Game 6], otherwise they were going to win it. And I felt confident; I had never seen our team so locked in, so I was like, ‘We’ve got this game.’ Then, heading into Phoenix, you know, it’s hard — you don’t know what to expect. But we were the same prepared team. Then, we come out and we just start connecting and (snaps fingers).

"It was crazy, man. I’m just watching the game like, ‘Is this really happening?!’’ It was really awesome to be a part of that and see the team so happy. Luka [Doncic] was a great leader that game, as he was the whole year. It was good for everybody, it was just a huge stride for our whole team.”

Green looks like a different player this summer, knocking down three-pointers with ease, putting the ball on the floor and turning heads throughout the gym.

“I think the biggest thing for me is just realizing what I need to do to help the team out; I’m not trying to work on stuff that I’m not gonna do in a game,” Green said. “And I’m coming in with full confidence, knowing what I need to do and being ready to go. I’m more motivated than ever.”

“The first month, we really just worked on ball-handling, finishing and getting him more efficient,” Abunassar explained. “He’s so strong and powerful and fast that, if he’s efficient and attacks the rim at angles and can finish, he’s going to be really difficult to stop. Last year, he finished the season shooting over 40% on corner threes, so he’s gotten a lot better in that area — but we’ve continued to work on his three-point shooting. Three-point shooting, ball-handling, finishing and getting him into the ultimate physical shape are the main things.”

Green admits that his ball-handling and shooting weren’t where they needed to be last season.

“Last year, I was very hesitant with my dribbling and not knowing [what to do],” Green said. “I’ve always known how to dribble — like in high school and everything, I was playing point guard. But as you get on [higher levels of play], you get the ball less and less. So for me, it’s just making sure that I’m able to dribble. It creates many more [opportunities], and it builds a lot of confidence as well when you’re able to dribble, so that’s been a huge thing that we’ve tried to work on this offseason.

“[And shooting] is just something that you can never not work on. For me, my leg would go in a lot last year and I need to make sure that my base isn’t too wide, so there were a couple of corrections that I made. I’m just trying to stay as consistent as I can, and I’ve been able to see a good amount of development in my shot, so I’m just trying to keep that up and make sure that I shoot well next year... So, yeah, my shot has been a big thing that I’ve been working on this summer.”

After working on these aspects of his game over the last month, Green looks more confident than ever.

“My confidence is high, man. I’m ready to go, and I can’t wait for next year,” Green said. “Coach [Jason] Kidd really helped me out last year, and he has a lot of trust in me, so now it’s just about me going forward and continuing to develop and show what I can do. I’m on a veteran team — a very good team — so for me, it’s just about doing what I can do to impress and just play like I usually play.”

“His confidence has improved a lot,” Abunassar added. “When you’re working on something for three or four hours a day, you tend to become more confident as it improves. The confidence comes with the work, and the fact that he’s stayed so consistent... I think just recently, the confidence has gotten even higher because it’s working. As Josh has seen himself progress, he has become much more confident.”

Green is also buying in from a nutrition standpoint. He’s following his dietary plan and avoiding certain foods (such as butter), which has made eating out at restaurants a challenge.

"I want to have a big year,” Green explained to Basketball News. "When you're young, whatever you see in front of you is what you want. I [was] able to start here early and realize, 'If I want to play ball for a while, it's important to put the right things in my body and stay healthy.' It's the same thing as seeing your physical therapist and getting treatment — if not more important for your body." 

Abunassar is pleased with Green’s development, especially since he’s still just 21 years old (which is younger than some incoming rookies). 

“He’s only 21, and I think his long-term potential is to be a starter on a really good team for a long time,” Abunassar said. “Josh wants to win. He’s not a volume type of guy; he’s a key piece on a really good team. I think teams are seeing that and Dallas is seeing that and putting a lot of confidence in him. 

“His rookie season was the COVID year, which started late. For all of those guys, it was kind of a wash; they couldn’t do team-building stuff or extra workouts — there were restrictions on their gym time. So, for all of those guys, you’re really looking at last year as being their rookie season. If you look at what he did as somewhat of a rookie last year, it was very impressive. And in the future, he’ll continue to build to where he’s a mainstay on a really good team.”

Green agrees with Abunassar’s assessment of his rookie year, and he hopes that the work he’s putting in at Impact Basketball can help him take the next step in his career.

“I feel like last year was a good year — it kinda felt like my rookie year, since I didn’t really get to play much during my actual rookie year,” Green said. “I think it’s kinda hard to tell [my ceiling] right now, so for me, it’s just about focusing on the present and making sure that I’m ready to go for next season. But I’d like to think that I do have a high upside, and I really do think I can be a major piece for the Mavericks moving forward. I’m hoping that next year I’m able to show that. 

“I love playing with guys like Luka and the rest of the team, and I think it’s a perfect situation for me to be in. A lot of other rookies get to go to teams where they get an opportunity right away, but for others like me, it takes some time. I’m just happy that I’m at the time now where I’m finally getting in the rotation.”

Over his first two seasons in the NBA, Green didn’t get to play a ton, but he did show flashes. Last January, in a win over the Houston Rockets, Green had 17 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals in 25 minutes (while shooting 85.7% from the field, nailing his only attempt from three-point range and hitting 4-of-5 free throws). In the very next game, Green helped the Mavericks beat the Chicago Bulls, contributing an efficient 18 points and 6 rebounds in 22 minutes (on 80/100/100 shooting splits).

“I’m very impressed with Josh and his game,” Abunassar said. “He’s got great size, great speed, great athleticism. Defense is what’s going to get him on the floor in Dallas; obviously, with their roster, they’re not looking for another 25-point-per-game scorer. He’ll start with his defense, but I think his offensive role will expand tremendously this season because of the improved ball-handling and finishing, and just him being a more confident Josh on the offensive side. 

“Last year, over the last 40- or 50-something games, he played 15-to-18 minutes and they were putting him in the game to guard. Now, I think they’re going to continue to put him in the game to guard, but he can expand on that. Like any young player, you add stuff to your game every year; this year, I just think his offensive focus and their ability to use him on offense will be much greater.” 

In 2020, Green represented Australia in the Olympics and helped the Boomers win the bronze medal (the country's first Olympic medal in men's basketball). It was an incredible experience for Green, who was a teenager at the time.

“When we were at the Olympics, it felt like the whole world was behind us,” Green said. “I feel like it’s a good team to cheer on; we have very good personalities and the team is just great to be around. I think [basketball] is getting a lot bigger in Australia. Obviously, there’s Aussie rules [football] and rugby and cricket and all of that stuff, but now that there are seven or eight Australian players around the NBA, it’s becoming a lot more appealing for these guys.”

Next month, Green is visiting Australia for two weeks. Then, he’ll be back at Impact Basketball until the start of training camp.

“I’m looking forward to being able to go back and just being able to go to my old school and everything like that,” Green said. “I miss Australia. I miss Australia a lot... I’m really looking forward to it.”

At 14 years old, Green left Australia in order to play high-school basketball in the United States and chase his NBA dream. It was a sacrifice that he was willing to make, but it wasn’t easy.

“When I came from Australia, I remember landing in Phoenix and being really excited, but then I was like, ‘Oh my God, I’m not going back,’” Green recalled. “At that point, I was at a stage where I wasn’t being recruited and I didn’t even know if I was going to play basketball [at the next level], so I actually started asking my mom about going back to Australia and playing Australian football. But yeah, it was really hard. 

“And going back is gonna be hard because I want to go back, but I miss it so much that I know I’m gonna be there [and not want to leave]. It’s awesome, man, and I’m really looking forward to it. It’s home. My little sister is talking to me — she’s young and she doesn’t remember anything, so I’m like, ‘It’s definitely time to go back.’”

Green is glad that today’s up-and-coming Australian prospects don’t need to leave the country in order to get recruited or show up on the NBA’s radar. He points to his childhood friend, Tyrese Proctor, as an example; the Sydney native is a five-star recruit who will play for Duke next year.

“I think it’s awesome, you’ve got guys like Tyrese Procter coming up now,” Green said. “It’s crazy because our families are extremely close; my dad was the best man in [his parents’] wedding. So it’s awesome seeing him from such a young age and then, out of nowhere, he’s an NBA prospect now!

"But it’s cool seeing Australia finally on the come up. For guys like me, I had to move at a young age in order to get recognition. Now, the fact that you can stay in Australia and go down that path [and get noticed], I think it’s great. It’s one of those things where I’m always down to get involved and help out the next up-and-coming group. Australian culture is like nothing else I’ve ever experienced, so I never want to be away from that.”

Green would surely love to spend the entire summer in Australia and eat whatever he wants (like many 21-year-olds), but he understands that this is a pivotal summer for his NBA career.

Once again, he’s prioritizing his NBA dream and making the necessary sacrifices in order to realize his full potential.

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