Boom or Bust NBA – Dallas Mavericks
Welcome to the first article in the 30-part series, “Boom or Bust“, where I evaluate every prospect in the NBA. The word “prospect” is only loosely defined, but for the purpose of my evaluation, I will include most players under 25, and players with considerable potential who are currently in the NBA. I’m sure once you see who I’ve chosen to review it will make sense. For a full explanation of the goals and methodology of this column, please click here to read the introduction.
2011-2012 Record – 36-30
It’s hard to believe that only one year ago the Mavericks were the champions of the NBA. With most of their championship nucleus gone, the Mavericks have a solid mix of youth, talent, and experience, but can they survive in the Wild, Wild West with heavyweights Thunder, Spurs, and a completely reloaded Laker team.
Age – 24, Previous season stats – 8.9 PPG, 2.9 APG, 42.2 FG%
Frenchman Beaubois was once the darling of the Dallas Mavericks. In the fiasco leading up to ‘the Decision,’ I distinctly remember a few Mavs fans that were not willing to take LeBron James if it meant giving up Rodrigue Beaubois.
And what a difference a year makes. Beaubois started 26 of 28 games in the beginning of Mavs’ championship season, but an injury landed him on the sideline. He never found a place on the eventual championship guard rotation. And as weird as this may sound, maybe if Beaubois stayed healthy, chemistry issues could have cost the Mavs a championship. This applies to Caron Butler as well.
Rodrigue, or ‘Roddy Buckets’ to Mavs fans, has shown that he can be an effective scorer. He can create his own shot, has good range, can score off the dribble, and has a good touch around the rim. He is an unconventional point guard, but the Mavericks should feel comfortable with the ball in his hands as an additional option on offense. A good mold for him to work towards is a more athletic and explosive Jason Terry. This is his contract year, and he needs to improve his efficiency, as well as show that he can stay healthy for a whole season if he wants to have a decent chance in this league.
Even though Kidd and Terry are gone, the Mavericks have strengthened their backcourt, and Beaubois will be competing for major minutes with Darren Collison, OJ Mayo, as well as other guards such as Vince Carter, Delonte West and Dahntay Jones. Roddy might have an advantage as an incumbent guard, but not having played basketball in so long, it will be hard to see how much playing time he will be seeing.
- Prospect Score – 6/10
Speaking of Rodrigue Beaubois, have you EVER seen an interview with as much sexual tension as this one?
Age – 25, Previous season stats – 10.4 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 4.8 APG, 44.0 FG%
Darren had an incredible rookie season with the Hornets, and averaged 18.8 points and 9.1 assists a game in the ones he started. Recognizing the conflict in having two playmaking point guards, the Hornets dealt Collison to the Pacers, where he had a chance to run a team that featured Danny Granger and a still developing Roy Hibbert. Collison has not been able to match his production as a starter for the Hornets. Last season, he had an unimpressive finish to the regular season, and failed to make any noise in the playoffs, with the Pacers opting to play George Hill at the point down the stretch.
Collison is a very solid NBA point guard with no glaring deficiencies, and should benefit from being in a new scenario in Dallas. Although some of the key players on the Mavericks are no longer in the best shape of their basketball lives, many of these guys were once great scorers, and still show strong offensive instinct. As a point guard, there is no better situation than running a team where your teammates know how to put the ball in the basket.
- Prospect Score – 7/10
Age – 24, Previous Season Stats – 2.6 PPG, 1.6 RPG
As a Chinese person that enjoys rooting for other Asian players, I am sad to say that Yi does not seem to have a real place in the NBA. It took me by surprise that he’s already been on four teams in five seasons.
In the Olympics and other international basketball competitions, Yi plays like a more defensive-minded Dirk, but he is really nothing in the NBA. His game consists of draining long twos off pick-and-pop plays, and occasionally catching other 7 footers off guard and getting to the basket. He does not bring many intangibles to the table. He is above average on the defensive end, but nothing to be worried about.
He’s no stiff of a 7 footer – he has a soft touch on his jumpshot and is more skilled than most big men at putting the ball in the basket, but his game just does not translate that well to the NBA. He’s a career 40.4% shooter from the field, which is not terrible for a jumpshooter, but he is capable of a lot more if he can adapt his game better.
My suggestions? Extend that range out to the three point line. With Yi’s relatively slow release, his long twos are not only easy to close out on, but are also less effective in terms of spacing the floor.
- Prospect Score – 2/10
Age – 23, Previous Season Stats – 2.7 PPG, 1.4 RPG, 39.7 FG%
Playing only limited minutes, Dominique shows promise as a distributor, having the second highest assist rating on the Mavs behind Kidd last year. His rebounding is solid for a guard, and although his field goal percentage leaves much to be desired, he really is a natural scorer with a knack of getting into the paint. Sadly, in such a talent-rich league, his ability is not at a point where he is significantly better than any other young shooting guard in the league. Although athletic, he does not have the freak athleticism that many GMs lust over (and consequently give undeserved second, third, fourth, fifth, etc., chances to). Also considering that ‘DoJo’ will have to compete with so many other guards for minutes, he will likely be riding the bench this year, even if a major injury goes down.
The good news is that Dominique is still young. In his stints in the D-League, he dominated. You know which NBA prospect did not dominate the D-League? Hasheem Thabeet.
- Prospect Score – 4/10
Age – 24, Previous Season Stats – 12.6 PPG, 2.6 APG, 36.4 3P%
Orange Juice Mayonnaise. The hype train for OJ Mayo started the moment he left his mother’s womb. Mayo has done surprisingly well for receiving so much hype, but his pro career is not matching the extraordinary amounts of attention he received in high school. He is still a productive NBA player and could start on most NBA teams. At this point of his career, Mayo needs to innovate himself as a player. He has a good jumpshot and should be attempting closer to six or seven 3-pointers each game. OJ had his best seasons as a starter, but gradually became benched in favor of defensive stalwart Tony Allen. Just like with Collison, a change in scenery could be great for OJ’s career.
- Prospect Score – 6/10
Age – 24, Previous Season Stats – 6.9 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 1.3 BPG, 61.8 FG%
Even though PER is not a ‘be all, end all’ statistic for evaluating players, it is still a helpful tool in measuring player… efficiency. One thing I like doing with PER is to look for role players that have high PERs (anything over 20 is solid), and those role players are usually guys who every coach in the league would want on their team.
This year, the name that caught my eye was Brandan Wright. Wright posted a 21.6 PER this year. For reference, Kobe posted a 21.9 this year, and Dirk a 21.7. We can’t take these numbers out of context, but the PER tells us that Brandan Wright is playing some good ball.
When the Warriors drafted Brandan Wright back in 2007, they were looking for some length, rebounding, shot blocking, and interior scoring to bolster their thin frontline. Fast forward to 2012, and the Warriors are still looking for that (although they may have found their answer in Bogut). Wright failed to provide any of that consistently, and often looked lost on the court. His skinny frame prohibited him from being effective, and the nagging injuries did not help. I had as much optimism for Wright as I do for Yi right now – so not a lot. When the Warriors traded Wright away for nothing, no feelings were hurt.
Just by virtue of his impressive physique – 6’10, 7’5 wingspan and good athlete, Wright got another chance. His signing in Dallas went by unnoticed, and now he is one of the more underrated players in the NBA. Brandan runs the floor well, like he always has, tightened up his shot selection, and is now an effective shot blocker and defensive player. One might even compare him to Tyson Chandler. Many teams in the NBA would love to have his skills, whether they were aware of the new and improved Brandan Wright or not.
And the best part about Brandan Wright? The man is only 24 years old, and has a chance to become a serious role player in the NBA. Wright seems to have a Durant/Garnett/Prince type of body – long, skinny, and incapable of adding a lot of mass. As fans and critics of the NBA, we have to let that go. What Wright should focus on is continuing to get stronger, working on becoming a better rebounder, and starting to incorporate his post scoring back into his current game. He might never be a full-time starter, but he could become a highly coveted role player that many contenders would love to have.
- Prospect Score – 7/10
Feel free to leave your comments below and check back tomorrow for Part 2 of the 30-part series, “Boom or Bust”.