Ricky Ledo ready to prove himself
"We specifically grabbed that pick for Ricky Ledo and we feel pretty good about him," president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson said.
Ledo, 20, is considered to have big upside, but there is a reason he was available in the second round. He never played for Providence. After moving from high school to high school, the guard sat out his freshman year as a partial academic qualifier before declaring for this year's draft.
"Certainly, he needs to mature and needs time, but we really feel good about him," Nelson said.
It's a much different situation for him now compared to his time at Providence, when he wasn't able to travel with the team.
Mavs coach Rick Carlisle has been quick to note Ledo is still considered a project piece.
"Ledo is a very good prospect at the guard position. He's a very young kid and this is the beginning of a process for him," Carlisle said. "We know he has NBA ability and we like him as a person. We're going to work hard with him."
The team certainly has a decent foundation to work with in Ledo. He has a smooth shooting touch and is pretty steady in regard to his dribble penetration and ability to pass. There have been highs and lows with his performances in the summer league, but he's still trending in the right direction.
There were ups and downs through the summer league, as he averaged 7.3 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.3 assists, but Ledo continues to show promise.
"I like his progression over the last four or five days," Carlisle said. "Each day he was a little more confident, a little more poise, keeping things a little more simple.
"That's going to be the key for him."
It's a key for him because as a second-round pick, he doesn't have a single guarantee of making the roster. He will earn an invite to training camp, but that's all he is assured of.
As a byproduct of being a second-round pick, the 6-foot-6 Ledo says he is out to show the teams that passed on him what they're missing out on. Ledo says he's embracing the opportunity to prove people wrong.
"I'm definitely playing with a chip on my shoulder to show everyone that I belong here and that I'm here to stay," Ledo said. "That's how I'm looking at the situation."
Carlisle considers that to be a good thing.
"Nothing brings the best out of any athlete or competitor like being up against it and having the pressure to perform to earn a job and make a living," Carlisle said. "The margins between winning and losing are slim in this league.
"The margins between making rosters and not making rosters are very slim as well. That's what makes this a very interesting time of the year."
That approach certainly was beneficial for J.J. Barea, who went undrafted and eventually became an NBA champion. It also worked for former Mavs forward Eduardo Najera, who was a second-round pick and had a 12-year career.
Ledo might have to spend time with the team's D-League affiliate in Frisco, Texas. That's not a bad thing, as the rookie simply just needs to get time on the court. No matter where he goes, he has a simple goal.
"Just to show I belong," Ledo said. "To show a kid that just came out of high school was able to play in the NBA, that it wasn't a mistake to pick him."
Chip on his shoulder or not, Ledo has the opportunity to redefine his reputation.
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