The Summer League provides a platform for young players to showcase their skills, and Dallas Mavericks fans have plenty of reasons to tune in. The team’s Summer League roster is filled with promising first-round picks, talented undrafted free agents, and even a potential future NBA head coach. Here’s a breakdown of who to watch during the Summer League.
The New Guys
For the first time in a long time, the Mavericks’ have a youth movement underway, and fans can watch Dallas’ new young talent.
The stars of the Mavericks’ Summer League show will be Dereck Lively II and Olivier-Maxence Prosper. Acquired through two draft day trades, the selections of Lively II and Prosper mark the first time Dallas has made two first-round picks since 1995, and both arrive with high expectations.
Prosper is expected to provide an immediate defensive impact, but fans should be watching his offensive abilities in the Summer League. He averaged 12.5 points per game at Marquette while showcasing exquisite touch around the rim (62.4% on twos) and an improving three-point shot (33.9%). Prosper might not have a broad offensive load during the regular season, so this may be one of the few times his full offensive repertoire will be on display.
Lively II is more of a project and yet might be the more intriguing watch at the Summer League. In college, he received limited playing time he received because of injuries and a bloated Duke frontcourt. Despite this, he still recorded 82 blocks and owned the third-highest block percentage and the highest defensive box plus/minus in the NCAA. This might be one of the few times fans can see Lively II play significant minutes this year, as his regular season role has still yet to be defined.
“[I want] to be a playmaker and [be] able to just be an anchor in the defense,” Lively II said about his Summer League aspirations. “[I want] to be all over the boards and just try to be a monster overall in every aspect of the game.”
Undrafted two-way signee Mike Miles Jr., an explosive score-first guard from TCU, and Jordan “Jelly” Walker, known for his crafty layup package, are also worth watching. Miles Jr. averaged 17.9 points on 56.3% shooting in college, and Walker averaged 22.3 points on 40.3% shooting at UAB.
The Summer League team also features some returning players whose development will be critical to Dallas’ regular season success.
The most important player from this group is Jaden Hardy. Hardy began last year in the NBA G-League but was quickly promoted to the main roster. Over his last 15 games, he averaged 13.6 points on 45.3% shooting in just 21 minutes per game. He totaled seven 20+ point games over that stretch and was the only non-lottery selection last year to record at least five 25-point games. With Tim Hardaway Jr. seemingly on the trade block, Hardy can carve out a significant bench role.
“I anticipate him playing a lot of games,” Mavericks’ Summer League head coach Jared Dudley said of Hardy. “This is an opportunity for Hardy to go out there and display his talent.”
McKinley Wright IV and AJ Lawson, the Mavericks’ other two-way players, will also be in action. Wright IV faces stiff competition due to Dallas’ backcourt depth but has still impressed during Summer League practice, being praised as a “step ahead” of the other guards. Wright IV played a limited NBA role last season, averaging just 4.2 points in 27 games, but was successful in the G-League, averaging 16.3 points and 5.9 assists.
While Lawson only averaged 3.7 points in 15 games in the NBA last season, he averaged 20.1 points and 8.9 rebounds in the G-League. He also might be the more interesting developmental piece of the two, as he could see an increased regular season role given the team’s lack of depth at the wing position if he plays well.
Jared Dudley: NBA Head Coach?
Dudley is entering his third season as a Mavericks’ assistant coach, and this is his second stint as Dallas’ Summer League head coach, albeit the first where he’s had time to prepare. Last season, he was thrust into the role after former Mavericks’ assistant Greg St. Jean stepped away. While Dallas was winless, Dudley will get another chance to test his coaching chops.
With the recent turnover of the Mavericks’ coaching staff, Dudley’s familiarity with Jason Kidd’s system and style may give him an edge in his influence on team direction that may set him up for additional promotions or coaching opportunities in the future.