Nicolas Brussino hasn’t played in an NBA regular-season game yet. But before he signed with the Dallas Mavericks as a free agent July 15, he already was rubbing shoulders with some of the game’s veteran players.
Brussino played on the Argentina Olympic team this past summer. His teammates included NBA players Manu Ginobili, Luis Scola, Andres Nocioni and Carlos Delfino.
Not bad company to be hanging around with while learning the subtle ins and outs of the NBA game.
I really believe that being on a team with Ginobili and Scola and Nocioni — legendary guys with a lot of NBA experience — was very valuable for him.
Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle, on the experience Nicolas Brussino gained with the Argentina Olympic team
“When you’re a 23-year-old guy and you make the Argentinian Olympic team, that’s got to give you a lot of confidence,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “And he played some meaningful minutes in a couple of their games, so I’m sure that whole experience was very valuable.
“I also really believe that being on a team with Ginobili and Scola and Nocioni — legendary guys with a lot of NBA experience — was very valuable for him as well.”
Brussino doesn’t speak English. But using Mavericks assistant coach Kaleb Canales as an interpreter, the 6-foot-8, 195-pound small forward acknowledged that he valued playing in the Olympics.
“It was just a wonderful experience for him just learning from the NBA players over the years on his team, on the national team of Argentina with Ginobili, Delfino,” Canales said, translating Brussino. “It’s just a great overall experience for him as a young player.
“That’s something he’ll never forget.”
Brussino is one of seven young players battling for the final two roster spots on the Mavericks’ 15-man squad. Right now, his biggest obstacle seems to be the language barrier, which center Salah Mejri struggled with last season as a Mavericks rookie.
“When I got here last year I was speaking English, but not American English and it was hard for me, so I can’t imagine how it is for him,” said Mejri, who is from Tunisia. “It’s different transitions, a different language, different everything for him, so it’s really hard, but I think basketball has one language.
“Whenever you’re out on the court, you know what to do. You have to hustle, you have to play hard and you have to do the right things.”
We have a great game that transcends the lingo problems, and he’s a smart kid. And we have a couple of guys here who are fluent in Spanish.
Carlisle, on Brussino’s language barrier
Brussino started taking English classes in North Dallas on Tuesday. The classes will be Monday through Friday for two hours a day.
“We have a great game that transcends the lingo problems, and he’s a smart kid,” Carlisle said. “And we have a couple of guys here who are fluent in Spanish.
“[J.J.] Barea and Kaleb Canales are both fluent in Spanish, and Salah speaks Spanish as well. So he’s got help and guys are helping him along.”
In the Mavericks’ first two preseason games, Brussino shot 5 of 9 from the field — 3 of 4 from 3-point range — for 18 points, five rebounds and four assists in 34 minutes.
“He’s a really motivated competitor and was unafraid, and he’s shown that so far,” Carlisle said. “He’s doing well and he’s got a chance here.”