Aussie Green to Mavs in NBA, Ball No.3

Murray Wenzel
·3-min read

Emerging Australian Josh Green will begin his NBA career in the Dallas Mavericks backcourt with Luka Doncic contending for a championship after being selected at No.18 in the 2020 draft.

Sydney-raised Green's name was called in a remote edition of the draft on Thursday (AEST), two days after his 20th birthday, having moved to the United States at 14.

Led by Slovenian sensation Doncic and fellow European standout Kristaps Porzingis, the Mavericks made the playoffs for the first time in four years, losing to the Los Angeles Clippers in six games in the first round.

Swingman Green did enough in a pandemic-shortened freshman season at Arizona, particularly in defence, to catch the eye of Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle as they aim to push deeper next season.

"What we needed first for our roster are wing defenders that can shoot and score and hopefully make plays," coach Rick Carlisle said.

"We feel like he's a ready-to-go three-and-D guy."

Green said he would adopt a team-first focus in his rookie year as he looks to establish himself among compatriots Ben Simmons, Patty Mills, Joe Ingles, Aron Baynes and Matthew Dellavedova as long-term fixtures of the world's best league.

Earlier, LaMelo Ball put the NBL up in lights when he was chosen by Charlotte Hornets with pick No.3, meaning he and brother Lonzo (No.2 in 2017) became the first siblings to go in the top five.

Sam Froling (Illawarra) and Kouat Noi (Cairns) nominated but were passed over and are able to fulfil their NBL contracts.

Fellow NBL Next Stars poster boy RJ Hampton went late in the first round at No.24 to Milwaukee, but will suit up for Denver after being traded to the Nuggets via New Orleans.

And Justinian Jessup was selected with pick No.51 by Golden State Warriors but is expected to be "stashed" at the NBL's Illawarra Hawks, where he has signed as the Next Stars product to follow Ball in 2021.

Ball and Hampton opted to skip the traditional college basketball route and play professionally in Australia for the Hawks and the New Zealand Breakers respectively.

Their arrival brought international attention to the revived league, with almost two million watching the NBL's Facebook Live stream when they faced off and scouts from a bevy of NBA clubs flying over to watch them play.

The 19-year-old Ball is the highest pick to enter the NBA directly out of the NBL, trumping former Australian centre Chris Anstey who was taken with selection No.18 in the 1997 draft by Portland.

He said it was a "straight blessing" to join the Michael Jordan-owned Hornets while general manager Mitch Kupchak, who spent time in Australia watching Ball, was happy to secure him.

"He has a flare to his game that maybe has some entertainment to it, maybe more so than some other players," he said.

"(But) we drafted him because of his size and length and the way he can handle the ball and the way he pushes the ball."

Hampton gave the NBL a plug when his name was called.

"Every night you really have to be mentally strong to withstand the (NBL) season," he said.

"My time in New Zealand was great; being with people that I call family now and I'm forever thankful for the time I spent over there."