The NBA Summer League for the Dallas Mavericks has been quite the success to date. Starting in Orlando, the Mavs went undefeated leading to being named Orlando Pro Summer League Champions.
In Las Vegas, Dallas has won their first three games as Dennis Smith Jr. and 2017 China MVP Ding Yanyuhang have solidified themselves to be fan favorites. A consistent contributor to the triumph of both the Mavs Orlando and Las Vegas Summer League teams has been former Baylor All-American Johnathan Motley.
After an illustrious three-year career as a Baylor Bear, Johnathan Motley set his eyes on the NBA. In his junior year at Baylor, Motley averaged 17 points and 10 rebounds per game while being a force to be reckoned with in the Big 12 conference. He well-deservingly earned Second Team All-American honors and was named the 2017 Karl Malone Power Forward of the Year, both marking the first instances in Baylor’s history.
Following the upset loss to South Carolina in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament, Motley had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his knee, which could have scared off possible landing spots in the draft. Going undrafted landed Motley in the hands of the Mavericks, who have seen the potential in the 6-10 lengthy big man.
“Not getting drafted, that was a tough night, because I expected to be drafted,” Motley stated. “I’m just thankful the Mavs gave me a chance after the injury.”
Motley, who recently signed a two-way contract with the Mavs, has sustained himself as a key part to Mavs Summer League roster. Playing in four of the five games in Orlando, Motley was a steady aid off the bench until the championship game against Detroit. Being that Las Vegas was right around the corner, the Mavs rested Brandon Ashley, who would join the Mavs in Las Vegas, along with Brandon Paul, Jameel Warney, and Christian Wood who all had accepted invites to join other teams in Las Vegas.
In their place, Motley’s number was called. He joined the starting lineup for the Mavs, scoring 18 points and snagging 10 rebounds against the Pistons. In Overtime, Motley sank the game-winning jumper in the lane with just 0.2 on the clock to take the Orlando Pro Summer League Championship.
With a better-rounded squad surrounding him in Las Vegas after the acquisitions of Yogi Ferrell, Dorian Finney-Smith, and the highly-anticipated Dennis Smith Jr., Motley returned to his bench role, where he has flourished. Coming off the pine, he has added a vigorous amount of activity in the paint on the offensive and defensive ends. As a team who lacks depth in size, Motley’s 6-10 frame has been essential to the success of the Mavs Summer League teams.
As the Summer League tournament in Las Vegas approaches, Motley’s continued resilient play will be imperative for the Mavs. Is there a future rotation spot for Motley in Dallas? I wouldn’t bet against it. With the offensive skill-set he possesses at his size and energy on the offensive and defensive glass, you can’t rule this young man out, especially with the undrafted chip on his shoulder.
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