The NBA Summer League tends to give teams an updated look at where their prized young talent is developmentally before the upcoming regular season. For the Dallas Mavericks, second-year forward Olivier-Maxence Prosper will be the focus in Las Vegas, providing a closer look at his potential readiness to contribute next season.

Prosper was considered a real threat to crack the Mavericks’ rotation last summer before entering his rookie campaign, even more so than Dereck Lively II at the time, but that did not transpire. Prosper averaged 8.4 minutes per game in 40 appearances, with his meaningful minutes only coming when injuries piled up for key players. He’s eager to get a chance to showcase the progression he’s achieved in Las Vegas after leaving his rookie season “frustrated” by how it unfolded.

“Just getting an opportunity to play [and] be out there with my teammates, and learn to be in a position where I’m in different situations, play different positions, and just go my game,” Prosper said. “This is still a great opportunity for me to improve, and that’s why I’m looking forward to it. I’m frustrated with this past season.”


Article continues below this ad

Considering the workload Lively shouldered to help guide the Mavericks to still play in June, he will not be playing in Summer League action. Jaden Hardy was the group’s focus last year, but with him entering his third season in the NBA, he isn’t participating either.

Prosper has a lot of room to be featured while playing for Mavericks assistant coach Jared Dudley, who is leading the Summer League team in a head coaching role for another season. “My job here so far is to show [Olivier-Maxence Prosper] improvement from year one to year two to hopefully make him a rotation player,” Dudley spoke about Prosper.

The production Prosper showcased with the Texas Legends, the Mavericks’ G League affiliate, should offer plenty of intrigue for the organization. He averaged 18.3 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 2.0 assists in 33.3 minutes per game. He shot 51.2% from the floor, 42.5% from beyond the arc (5.3 attempts per game), and 76.7% on free throws. He shouldered more responsibility offensively while ensuring he put up a higher volume of three-point attempts, knowing that’s what’s needed when he plays with the Mavericks. He’ll be tasked with similar responsibilities in Las Vegas.

Olivier-Maxence Prosper wants the “toughest challenge” for Summer League!

Olivier-Maxence Prosper’s clear-cut focus throughout the Summer League is guarding the opposition’s best perimeter player. The Mavericks understand the value of having another big-bodied wing who can be trusted to check the league’s dynamic talents, particularly after losing Derrick Jones Jr. in free agency. Prosper has shown potential in this area during the regular season, with the coaching staff working closely with him on various drills, such as cone-work featuring defensive slides and reactions. Las Vegas will be the first setting to see how that translates to results.

“You’re gonna be guarding the best wings,” Dudley challenges Prosper. “So your defense—defend without fouling because that’s what this team needs you to have. We just added [Naji] Marshall, different guys. Anytime you can have 6-foot-8 guys that can defend multiple positions [it helps].”

Dudley’s challenge for Prosper is one that he embraces. There’s a clear understanding that for him to have as successful of an NBA career as possible, he’ll surely need to build a reputation of being a lockdown defender against the toughest players the opposition can possibly put in front of him to have to stifle.

“I want the toughest challenge. I want to be put in the toughest situations, and moving forward with the Mavs, that’s the challenge I want, too,” Prosper stated. “I want to guard the best player on the other end… That’s where I feel like I will make a living. Obviously, you also want to do stuff on the offensive end, but that’s where I start. That’s my base. I love guarding. I love sitting down, being in a stance, and guarding and keeping somebody in front of me.”

Any time a player is in a position to complement superstar offensive talents like Luka Dončić and Kyrie Irving, it’ll be vital to be ready to take catch-and-shoot jump shooters and make the defense pay based on how they are closing out. Sometimes, that’ll require re-driving, leading to a finish, floater, pull-up jumper, or passing read. The concept is simple, but making these decisions fluidly in real time can take time to nail down.

“Offensively, let’s make it simple. If you’re open, catch and shoot because three-pointers with Luka and Kyrie [are important.] If not, re-drive,” Dudley emphasized.

There is a particular focus the Mavericks want Prosper to have when he is attacking a closeout on a re-drive. He often likes to get deep on the drive and play off of two feet while using a shot fake to get the help defender in the air or to throw off the timing of a crowd of defenders if the on-ball defender recovers well. He usually looks to score as a result. The coaching staff would like to see passing reads from him. Whether the low defender rotates from the weak side to protect the paint, leaving a shooter open, or there is a dropoff pass available to the big in the paint, his reads will be evaluated.

“The big thing about Summer League and with [Prosper] is when you re-drive, is your decision-making,” Dudley expounded. “You have a lob threat, which we have [Jamarion] Sharp here, someone 7-foot-4, athletic as can be. Can you make the corner and wing pass when you drive and when they pack the paint? That’s something O-Max has to be able to do consistently, which he hasn’t shown yet.”

A natural part of the development process for many young players is the feeling that the game is slowing down for them. Usually, this translates to making better decisions due to having a better comfort level and feel for how the defense is going to approach guarding them and rotate as a unit in response to how they attack.

“It’s slowing down for me and playing with more poise. That’s what it is at the end of the day… You take a step back and play at your pace,” Prosper detailed. “That’s when you’re going to be the most successful because you see things before they happen and not trying to rush everything. I feel like that’s going to be a big difference-maker for me going to year two compared to year one.”

As it stands, Prosper is confident in his game to take the next step in his development, understanding what’ll be required to do so.“Going to my second year, I feel very confident about my game, who I am, and ready to make that jump,” he mentioned.

Considering Prosper’s circumstances are different entering this year’s Summer League experience compared to his first, there’s reason to be confident. The draft night trades involving Lively and Prosper didn’t become finalized until midway through the Mavericks’ preparation process last year, requiring both players to observe from the sidelines before departing for Las Vegas. Prosper has jumped right into the action this time, and he already has a strong understanding of the team’s schemes and principles, along with the NBA level in general. And yes, he’s taken tips from the best!

The Luka Dončić and Kyrie Irving ‘Touch’ was a game-changer for Prosper!

Having a season with the Mavericks has allowed Olivier-Maxence Prosper to learn from superstars like Luka Dončić and Kyrie Irving by competing in practice or observing during games. There is no better learning exposure than to witness an entire NBA Finals run unfold, even if it ended in the Boston Celtics claiming the championship.

“Honestly, I just feel like from all the things I’ve learned this year, I think it’s just learning how to play with my teammates, Luka and Kai, and learning how to complement them,” Prosper voiced. “Being out there and from learning from all the playoffs and learning how to guard with my team and just making open shots, attacking the rim, and doing all the things I know I can do.”

Going through these experiences and receiving advice from others has made it clear to the Mavericks’ first-round pick that he has to embrace doing what it takes to guard the opposing team’s best player and play confidently on offense. The importance of playing naturally and not overthinking remains a focus for the Montreal native.

“Honestly, I feel like just being my best self out there, like guarding the best player, stopping the best player on the other end, and being confident on the offensive end,” Prosper explained. “Taking the shot that I feel is best for me and what’s in front of me, and not overthinking things. Go out there and play.”

The Mavericks started Prosper and Lively during the team’s initial preseason competition when facing the Minnesota Timberwolves during a 12-day international preseason trip after they each established strong momentum in training camp for themselves. Competing in Abu Dhabi was their first exposure to playing next to Dončić and Irving, which ultimately translated to Prosper beginning the season primarily in the G League while Lively firmly remained a contributor.

“I’m going to make mistakes, I’m going to do awesome, but if I just go out there and play and make every move with confidence, then I’m going to be straight,” Prosper explained. “I feel like I’m going to gain my rhythm, go into the training camp.” The circumstances have given Prosper confidence about his outlook on taking the next step with the Mavericks. “I believe I’m right there, and I believe I will step into that rotation,” he reaffirmed.

The Mavericks are making the best moves from Prosper, something that was also reflected in a recent media exit interview from Mavericks general manager Nico Harrison.

Mavericks’ Strategic Moves Signal High Hopes for Olivier-Maxence Prosper

Olivier-Maxence Prosper was acquired during last year’s draft using a trade with the Sacramento Kings. After moving on from Dāvis Bertāns’ contract in a trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Mavericks leveraged newfound flexibility to take on Richaun Holmes’ unfavorable contract from the Kings to acquire the 24th overall pick, which was used on Prosper. Draft capital was required to move Holmes’ contract to the Washington Wizards in the deal that ultimately brought Daniel Gafford into the fold back in February. This chain of transactions suggests the Mavericks hold Prosper in high regard, given they were willing to take on a bad contract to acquire his draft rights. 


Article continues below this ad

During his media exit interview, Mavericks general manager Nico Harrison emphasized that Prosper’s short-term goal is to have a strong summer and continue his development. The team remains confident in what he could become as a player.“O-Max is going to be good. We had his exit interview, and really, for him, we just want him to have a really good summer, get back, and get confidence because the kid can play,” Harrison expressed. “He can play on both sides of the ball.”

While acknowledging the team’s talent, Harrison stressed the importance of confidence numerous times, making it challenging to earn minutes. If Prosper returns to the team for training camp in great shape, there’s confidence he’ll compete for playing time.


Article continues below this ad

“The goal for him is to come back in September in great shape with a lot of confidence and ready to compete for minutes,” Harrison said. “He’s a rookie playing with a team with a lot of good players in front of him. I think if he attacks this summer like he will, he has really hard work at the great kid that next year he comes, he comes back in great shape and confident enough to compete for minutes.”

Suppose the Mavericks trust Prosper to earn legitimate rotation minutes next season. In that case, there is a very realistic scenario where they manage to reach the NBA Finals and improve in the offseason after adding Klay Thompson, Naji Marshall, and Quentin Grimes amidst the departures of Jones and Josh Green. What’s your take? Drop your thoughts in the comment box below.