If wins over the New York Knicks and Phoenix Suns proved anything about this iteration of the Dallas Mavericks, it was that both Josh Green and Jaden Hardy have something to prove.

Moving forward, Dallas needs to lean on both of its critical young prospects if it aims to find long-term sustainable success.

Against the Suns, Josh Green scored 16 points on 6-for-7 shooting from the field and 1-for-2 from the 3-point line. Green also grabbed four rebounds and dished out five assists. It was the most complete game he’s played as a professional. And after the game, Green’s undeterred play solicited praise from a fickle Jason Kidd. What Kidd had to say about the relatively soon-to-be restricted free agent sounded similar to what he said about Jalen Brunson ahead of his breakout season in 2021.

“He’s going to get paid,” Kidd said of green Monday night. “The kid has all the talent to be a superstar, he just has to play. He’s going to make a lot of money, hopefully, he doesn’t leave.”

Even when Green’s shot wasn’t falling against New York on Saturday, he still managed to stay engaged, collecting five assists and two steals. Moreover, in the last four games, Green has scored in double-figures twice, including Monday.

He is averaging 10.5 points and three assists per game in those same four games. But what really resonates are the plays that don’t directly show up in the box score. It’s the effort plays. The reckless drives to the basket that spring momentum. The deflections on defense that inspire the veterans. A willingness to do whatever the team needs, no questions asked, makes Green such an intriguing weapon for Dallas. It also helps that he’s shooting 46 percent from 3-point range in 23 games, the highest mark of his career.

More than anything else, however, Green gives Dallas exactly what it needs in a season that has started similar to last, listless and lifeless — hope and versatility.

Not far behind Green is Jaden Hardy, who has finally enjoyed the spoils of his impressive G Leauge play.

Hardy has looked like a legitimate rotational NBA player in the Mavericks’ last two outings. That is an achievement for a player many expected would be a long-term project. Even Kidd said Hardy would follow a Green style of development, playing sparingly with the Mavericks in his first season back in October.

Hardy scored five points in New York. He then followed that up with 10 points on 80 percent from the field against Phoenix. From looking wide-eyed in the bright lights of Madison Square Garden to appearing calm in the subdued hustle of Dallas, Hardy played like someone ready to prove himself. He did. In two minutes.

When the Mavericks signed 32-year-old Kemba Walker, the question became when would Hardy get his chance. Now, he’s making the most of it as Walker tries to work his way into the rotation. The same goes for Green, who is in a boom or bust season.

Dallas’ future may be tied to the greatness of Luka Doncic. But even he needs help. And during Dallas’ two-game win streak, it’s apparent that help may be coming by way of the young guys many didn’t expect much out of — fitting.

Related Dallas Mavericks reading

“The dizzying statistics that confirm the harsh reality about the Mavericks.” 

“Kemba Walker sings with the Mavericks, this is what to expect next.” 

Feature image via Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports