Motley impresses Mavericks with late season play

Dallas Mavericks' Johnathan Motley dunks the ball during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers on April 8 in Philadelphia. Associated Press.

By Ben Everett | Sports Writer

Former Baylor men’s basketball player Johnathan Motley made a late-season splash with the Dallas Mavericks after spending most of the season in the NBA’s minor league.

The 2016-17 Karl Malone Award Winner went undrafted after foregoing his senior season as a Bear, but signed a contract with the Mavericks to play primarily with the Texas Legends, their affiliate G-League, or minor league team.

Motley spent the majority of the season with the Legends, only dressing out for the Mavericks 23 times out of 82 games, and only seeing court time in 11 of those games.

With the Mavericks missing out on the playoffs for the second consecutive season, Motley saw significant playing time down the stretch. The 6-foot-10 forward started the last four games for the Mavericks and averaged 16.3 points and 7.8 rebounds per game while shooting 51 percent from the field in those games.

Motley’s big moment came against the Detroit Pistons on April 6, when he drained his first NBA three-pointer to tie the game at 101 with 10.1 seconds left and send the game into overtime.

Motley said he’s been working on his perimeter game, something many big men have in today’s NBA.

“You can’t make the ones you don’t shoot,” Motley told the Dallas Morning News. “Toward the end of the season, I was shooting a lot (at the Texas Legends). Coach Mac (Bob MacKinnon) made sure I got a lot of reps up. I’m confident in my ability and can have a role in this league.”

Motley getting four starts with the Mavericks down the stretch is a product of Dallas’ losing season. The Mavericks have given playing time to many of their prospects toward the end of the season in an attempt to see what they can bring to the table moving forward.

Dallas head coach Rick Carlisle said seeing the court in NBA games is a great opportunity for many of their young players and prospects.

“Look, that’s why we’re looking at these guys for,” Carlisle told the Dallas Morning News. “We know what the guys who have gotten heavy minutes can do. We need to explore situations and see what the (other guys) can do. Opportunities don’t get much better than this if you’re a G-League player or a prospect that’s looking for an NBA shot.”

Motley utilized his time in the G-League well, starting in 34 games for the Legends and averaging 22.2 points and 9.7 rebounds per game while shooting 56.6 percent from the field.

Grapevine sophomore and Mavericks fan Josh Williams said he has enjoyed seeing Motley produce at a high level, and hopes he can keep it going.

“I really like the way JMot is heading into the off-season with some momentum,” Williams said. “He collected 26 and 21 points in two of his last three games for the Mavs. Hopefully his summer league play will be strong again like last year and he can carve out some minutes in the Mavs young roster.”

With both the Mavericks’ and Legends’ seasons over, Motley will likely see the court next in the 2018 NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.