Mavs, Ledo should learn a lot in summer league

LAS VEGAS — Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is willing to say that he is a believer in Ricky Ledo.

The explosive forward knows that he needs the time in Las Vegas to show he can take the next step and that he can be an actual part of the team’s rotation. After spending just 11 games with the Mavs in his rookie season and spending the rest of the time with the team’s D-League affiliate, the Texas Legends, Vegas represents an opportunity for Ledo. More importantly, it’s something else for him.

“It’s a learning experience,” Ledo said.

Through the first two games of the summer league, Ledo has delivered a mixed bag of results. The summer league stats must be taken for what they are within the framework of the league itself, but he’s averaging 17.5 points per game on 33.3 percent shooting from the field, 50.0 percent shooting from 3-point range and 53.8 percent from the free throw line. Center Bernard James is the only Dallas player who has a higher scoring average. Out of players who have played at least two games in Las Vegas, Ledo ranks fourth in scoring average.

It’s been a struggle for Ledo to gain some traction with his ability to finish around the basket, but he’s been able to show flashes of why the Mavs have made a relatively substantial investment in him in the form of a four-year deal. Ledo may be struggling with finishing at the rim, but he’s finding different ways to actually get to the rim. It’s that aggressive mindset that should allow Ledo to establish himself in the league if it can all come together for him.

“The most important thing with him, the word we always use with him, is aggressive,” Mavs summer league coach Kaleb Canales said of Ledo. “I think he has confidence in his game. As coaches, we’re trying to put him in good positions to succeed.”

Ledo has range, handles, can play with pace, space and flow. There are still limitations to his game, but there’s a lot to like with the forward who is just 21 years old. In terms of limitations, Ledo has all the offensive talent in the world you could hope for, but the level of effort he brings in terms of his defensive disposition will ultimately decide whether or not Coach Rick Carlisle plays him. Ledo has to look no farther than fellow forward Jae Crowder to see that.

The biggest word for the summer league team is improvement. Reducing his wasted dribbles, continuing to show a better floor game and continue to grow with his decision making will all be things Ledo will continue to work on over the next week.

“I think slowing [the game] down is what I need to do to continue to get better,” Ledo said. “It’s just about overall consistency, being able to build off of each game.”

Things remain very much up in the air in regards to Dallas’ situation on the wing. It would be an extreme situation for the Mavs to suddenly require Ledo to step in and play significant and consistent minutes within their rotation in his second season. While that’s the case, if Ledo can show that he should warrant the chance to compete for minutes, this will end up being a very successful summer for the young Mav.

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